Stay on Schedule With Chemo

By Health Monitor Staff
Reviewed by John D. Hainsworth, MD, and Roy Weiner, MD

To get the best long-term results from chemotherapy, it’s best not to skip or delay treatment. Chemo’s goal is to kill the maximum possible number of cancer cells. If you miss treatments, it could create a gap that allows cancer cells to regroup and make a comeback.

In addition to making your treatment as effective as possible, staying on schedule can help with daily and weekly planning. Over time, you should be able to predict when you’ll need to rest and when you’ll feel well enough to schedule fun activities.

Follow these tips to help you stay on schedule.

Before chemo begins

  • Get routine tests and checkups. Visit the dentist and have any routine screening tests, such as a mammogram or colonoscopy.
  • Ask your doctor about having a port implanted. Needles are inserted more easily through a port than directly through your skin.
  • Stock up on feel-good essentials: face and body lotion; lip balm and nasal gel to avoid dryness; and gum and hard candies, which prevent dry mouth.
  • Decide how you’ll take care of yourself. Work with your doctor to come up with a healthy eating and exercise plan.

Before each session

  • Drink about 10 8-oz. glasses of water the day before each treatment. It will be easier for the infusion nurse to find your veins.
  • If you have a port, ask your infusion nurse to recommend a numbing cream. It will make infusions more comfortable.

During each session

  • Imagine your chemo drugs searching for and destroying the cancer cells in your body. Studies show that visualization may help ease anxiety, lift your spirits and even boost your immune system temporarily.

Before you leave

  • Get post-infusion medication instructions. The day after chemo, you may need an injection of a colony-stimulating factor medication to help boost your white blood cell count and reduce your risk of infection. Make sure you get a prescription.
  • Ask about any side effects you might experience, such as mouth sores, severe nausea, flushing and fever. Call your doctor if you experience any.
  • Confirm your next appointment.

Before your next appointment

  • Watch for signs of infection.
  • Keep a log. Record any symptoms, then mention them to your doctor.
Published March 2014


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