- What is chemotherapy?
This is where you are getting the medications to treat cancer. You will see the doctor first and then come back into a comfortable large seating area with lazy-boy recliners and cable TV. The nurses will welcome you and get your intravenous line started. They will administer your medications in a normal saline or dextrose solution and monitor you for the entire treatment.
- Is chemotherapy the same as radiation treatment?
NO. Chemotherapy are the medications used to treat the cancer. Radiation therapy is where the high beam waves are transmitted externally to treat the cancer. Depending on your treatment plan, chemotherapy may precede radiation treatment, run concurrently, or be used without radiation treatment.
- What will happen to me during chemotherapy?
Usually, nothing. Most patients tolerate treatment very well without any side effects. Side effects that may occur typically present as allergic type reactions with itching, rash, watery eyes and coughing. The doctor orders “pre-medications” to decrease the chances of these side effects. If side effects do take place, they are temporary and reversible.
- What are the side effects of chemotherapy?
Side effects usually don’t happen until the third or fourth day after treatment. Sometimes these side effects delay until the third or fourth treatment. Some patients experience fatigue that may last 4-7 days. Others may have diarrhea or constipation. Some patients experience a decrease in appetite with nausea and vomiting. The immune system can also be decreased which places patients at an increased risk for infection including upper respiratory from cold and flu virus.
- Can I eat while I am getting chemotherapy?
Yes. Many patients bring their own food and snacks to eat during treatment. Eating during treatment is sometimes best for patients since they may feel tired later. Eating at every opportunity is good way to optimize caloric intake and avoid weight loss.
- What is the chemotherapy experience like?
It is a time where patients get a chance to know each other through sharing their stories and experiences. Many patients look forward to this time as they can also get a chance to take a nice needed nap. Staying well rested is an important part of the treatment plan in addition to staying positive. Social relationships are built during chemotherapy that increase moral and positive outcomes.
- What should I bring to chemotherapy?
Home comfort items like a blanket, pillow, tablet, lab-top, devices, headphones, food and drinks are items that many patients like to bring. Bringing family members or support people are always encouraged. Other arrangements should be made for children in order to protect them and the other patients from infection.