Now that you have a cancer treatment or infusion appointment scheduled, preparing for the visit and how you might feel in the days following your treatment is an important next step. Whether this is your first treatment, or last, getting support, knowing what to expect, and planning can help you manage side effects and better cope with the experience. Here we provide recommendations to help you feel prepared for this next step.
Knowledge is power
Knowing what to expect from treatment before it starts helps many patients prepare for treatment and feel empowered. It is best to ask your doctor how you might feel specifically, since many things can affect your experience during or after a treatment. They might recommend medicines or other tips to prevent or treat symptoms. Writing down your questions ahead of time can help ensure you get all the answers you are looking for. Specific questions you might want to ask:
- What medicines will I receive to treat my cancer? How do they work?
- How often will I receive my treatment?
- Am I getting any other medicines with treatment to prevent side effects?
- Where will I receive my treatment(s)?
- How long will my entire appointment take?
- How will I feel during the infusion? How will I feel after?
- How long will I feel unwell?
- What symptoms and side effects should I be tracking?
- Are there things I can do to make myself feel better?
- Should I avoid anything while receiving treatment? Such as other medicines, vitamins, foods, beauty routines, etc.?
- Will any of my body fluid or waste be dangerous to others after my treatment? Do I need to be careful touching anyone or anything?
- What side effects are abnormal that I should call to report? Who do I call?
- Should I take off work during any days of my treatment?
Adjust your calendar
For many reasons, some treatment or infusion appointments can be long — half a day or more in some cases — and filled with waiting, tests, and infusion times. Be sure to plan ahead and adjust your schedule to minimize any time pressure on treatment days. You may also want to talk to your employer to let them know — in no more detail than you are comfortable with — that you have medical appointments coming up and might need to take time off.
Pack a bag
Bringing a few things from home can keep you busy during down time on treatment days, ensure you have your favorite snacks and fluids, and arm you with some quick remedies if you start to feel sick. Things you might want to include in your treatment bag:
- Extra layers of clothing and a blanket – many clinics are set to cool temperatures
- A comfortable pillow
- Headphones to listen to music or podcasts
- Earplugs, to block out noise from other people or loud machines
- An eye mask to dim the lights for rest
- A journal, novel or activity book
- Chargers for your phone or computer
- Water or other fluids to stay hydrated
- Snacks and flavored candies –
- Tips from Iris Peer Mentors:
- Do you get an unpleasant, metallic taste in your mouth when a nurse pushes saline through your IV line or port? Patients report lemon or citrus flavored candy help get rid of this.
- Have you ever felt queasy or sick to your stomach during treatment appointments or infusions? Research shows that ginger flavor candies and foods can help with this.*
It is common that clinics or hospitals allow you to bring a support person with you to these appointments to make the experience easier to endure — though not all hospitals are like this, so you might want to check ahead of time. This might be a family member, friend, or other caregiver you enjoy being around who could help transport you, keep you company, or help make you comfortable if you start feeling sick. In addition to having a support person with you during your appointment, you might find it helpful to ask for help to take care of all the other things on your to do list while your body uses extra energy to heal and recover.
Prepare your home
Treatment might leave you feeling run down and unable to keep up with grocery shopping, errands, cleaning, and other household chores. Making a plan for household chores, pet or child care, shopping, and or meal preparation in advance can help you enter a comfortable and restful environment after a treatment appointment.
Iris is here to support you through treatment. For help preparing for an appointment, or for support with side effects or concerns afterwards, chat with an Iris nurse anytime, any day.
- Viljoen E, Visser J, Koen N, Musekiwa A, A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting. Nutr J. 2014;13:20. Epub 2014 Mar 19.
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Reviewed by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board
This article meets Iris standards for medical accuracy. It has been fact-checked by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board, our team of oncology experts who ensure that the content is evidence based and up to date. The Iris Clinical Editorial Board includes board-certified oncologists and pharmacists, psychologists, advanced practice providers, licensed clinical social workers, oncology-certified nurses, and dietitians.