Zometa From a Caregiver’s Point of View

There comes a time every 3 months when my partner, Steph, receives an infusion of a drug called Zometa. Zoledronic acid (brand name Zometa) is a medication delivered via an IV over a small amount of time. It's not chemotherapy; instead, it treats bone damage and prevents bone weakness in people with advanced breast cancer.1

Zometa has been effective

We are incredibly grateful for the access to this medication and the fact that it has been effective. Here's the part that's not so great, though. Zometa's side effects include pain, fever, and general flu-like symptoms for up to 3 days after administration, sometimes longer. Like many cancer treatments, you are exchanging 1 thing for another...healthy bones to feel like crud for 3 days; just because it's a good thing doesn't make it easier.

Difficult side effects after infusions

Steph and I have come to dread Zometa infusions a bit. No one likes knowing when they are going to feel like crap. It means long nights and early mornings for me as I help manage their side effects, dispense medication, and keep my partner comfortable while running a house with a 6-year-old who has more energy than I'd care to think about.

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As a caregiver and a mom, this leaves me incredibly exhausted by the end of it all. By the time my partner feels more like themselves, I might even be so tired that I end up with a migraine. Learning to protect my peace and honor my energy levels while also caregiving is a lesson I'm still adjusting to.

Our whole family is impacted

For all of us, it brings a small glimpse into days when my partner might not be able to be as active as they are now and may not feel well. We all respond to this differently; I struggle to sleep, returning to checking my partner's breathing multiple times a night as I did when they were initially diagnosed.

Our daughter will become clingy and nervous, and Steph will hate feeling like they must ask for help. Illness affects everyone differently, even in our home, where cancer is present every day.

Remedies for Zometa side effects

We've been dealing with this medication for 2 years now and have found some remedies that help minimize some of the more difficult side effects. As always, double-check with your medical team; what works for us and our journey may not work or be appropriate for yours.

Communicating with providers

We ask the nurse administering the infusion to set the injection slower. Zometa is typically given over 15 minutes. However, you can request it be administered over 30 minutes or even an hour. We've found 30 minutes to be the sweet spot that helps reduce the severity of the side effects.

Hydration and over-the-counter pain relief

The more that Steph hydrates, the better they feel, and faster. Steph also takes acetaminophen and ibuprofen 24 hours before the infusion and continuously until 3 days post-infusion.

Planning and preparation

To plan for infusions and the next few days, we follow certain protocols to help the post-infusion period go smoothly:

  • Meal planning: Ahead of infusion day, I cook and freeze our meals or buy groceries to craft quick meals. I prepare large portions of well-loved recipes so I don't have to think about what we eat on any given day.
  • Babysitting: We plan for a babysitter or friend to take our daughter to the park or to enjoy a fun activity after the infusion.
  • Saving up: We put money aside for food delivery and take-out orders. Food delivery can be expensive, but budgeting for it can be a nice treat for us.

As a caregiver, what other tips have worked for you and your loved one? Share with us in the comments!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AdvancedBreastCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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