First, I just want to say how sorry I am that your mom has to go through this again. I'll be thinking all good things for her. My husband had a different kind of cancer, and so I don't know if your mom will experience the same kind of responses, but here's what we learned:
1)Different chemotherapy drugs have different side effects. Your mother's oncologist will probably have handouts about each drug, and the internet is great for gathering information about side-effects specific to each drug.
2)Each person's body chemistry is different, so each person experiences chemotherapy differently. My husband was young and strong and we were told his treatment regimen was not one of the harder ones to tolerate, but in his case, unfortunately, this proved to be untrue. He had a hard time, especially with nausea. There are usually several drugs the oncologist can give to combat every side-effect. If the one your mother's doctor prescribes doesn't work, advocate for her immediately to get one that does. There is no reason for your mother to suffer unnecessarily.
3)Dehydration can be a real problem. If your mother doesn't feel like drinking anything, encourage her to take at least a sip of something every 10 minutes or so. My husband's favorite thing at this time was watered down orange Gatorade. If your mother doesn't feel like eating, don't push it. If she doesn't feel like drinking, stay on top of her. If you can't get her to drink enough, take her to the hospital for an IV. If your mother doesn't want to go to the hospital and you feel like she needs to, don't defer to her, take her in. A cancer patient isn't always the best determiner of what he or she needs in the moment. That being said, give her her dignity at all times.
4)Handle any insurance issues for her. The last thing a person who is fighting for her life needs to be doing is arguing with her insurance company, and it does happen, believe me. If her insurance company says no to a drug that is going to make your mother's treatment easier in any way, get on the horn, sister. I once made someone call a supervisor at home after hours to get my husband his anti-nausea medication.
5)Strong odors and flavors can really be hard for a person undergoing chemo to take. Also, ask your mom's doctor before you give her any over-the counter stuff. My husband was told not to take anti-oxidant vitamins because they interfered with his chemo drugs.
6)Ask your mom's chemo nurses anything and everything. The doctor prescribes, but the nurses tend to know the real nitty-gritty stuff. They are fountains of practical information.
7)Be flexible. Cancer doesn't have a schedule, and there are times when you think you're gonna be somewhere for an hour and you end up staying the night. Since you have small children, make sure you have someone you can count on to help in these situations.
8)Respect that this is a delicate balance, here. You'll have to really tune in to your mom to know what the right thing to do is sometimes. If you are ever in doubt, call the Dr. Don't hesitate to call because you're afraid to be a nuisance-call whenever you feel you need to.
9)If you are her primary caregiver, you'll be encouraged to "take care of yourself." It's almost impossible to do. Be patient with yourself and ask for help from your friends and husband without hesitation. Do the best you can, understanding that you are a human being with needs, too, even if it seems hard to meet your needs during this process. You will feel angry and helpless and hopeless and frightened and less-than, but you will still be a champion for your mother. You can do what you must do because you must do it.
There are probably about 10,000 other things I could write to you, but I am going to stop now. If you should feel like you would like to contact me for any reason, please don't hesitate. Oh, and get in touch with the Wellness Center. They are fantastic support for patients and caregivers.
All the best to you and your mother,