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Preparing for the first day of chemotherapy

The first day of chemotherapy can seem like a daunting prospect.

Here are some simple tips:

1. Forget about the negative stories and misconceptions that are associated with chemotherapy.

Oncologists have more tools at their disposal in the modern era to manage common chemotherapy side effects like nausea and low blood counts.

Chemotherapy is a dynamic journey and, in as much as we want to take the fight to cancer, we will also attempt to preserve the quality of life. This balancing act can be achieved by tweaking the chemotherapy dose or changing the drug regimen if the treatment is poorly tolerated.

It’s important to keep open lines of communication with your healthcare provider and remember, there is no such thing as a silly question.

2. There is no magic diet during chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is often associated with altered taste and poor appetite. The best way to adapt is to try and create a new normal with your food. This requires experimentation in the kitchen until you find the foods that work for you.

Spices, herbs, marinades and sauces can help enhance the flavour of your food. Another simple principle is to have small, frequent meals. Nutritional supplements are widely available and may also be incorporated into your diet. You’re welcome to chat to our in-house dietician for more advice.

Be sure to discuss everything you are taking with your oncologist. Many herbal supplements (including cannabis), antioxidants and vitamins can harmfully interfere with chemotherapy treatments.
It’s important to have a light meal on the morning of treatment.

3. A positive attitude is a key weapon in the fight against cancer.

Chemotherapy is often an unpredictable journey. Treatment response and side effects vary from person to person. Walking the journey with hope, having strong faith, and living in the moment, will certainly help.

Many people find it useful to join a support group or seek counselling. Working through your emotions can assist with feeling more optimistic.

4. We recommend someone drop you off and pick you up after treatment.

The results of the blood work will influence whether you can have treatment on the specified day. Sometimes, treatment will be delayed if the blood counts are suboptimal.

Chemotherapy infusion times vary. Carry a book or an electronic device to keep yourself entertained. Better yet, strike up a light-hearted conversation with the jovial chemotherapy nurses or other patients in the chemotherapy suite. It may also be useful to carry a blanket with you.

Once you are back home after treatment, it’s important to follow any instructions given to you. Take your medications on time, rest, hydrate, and eat. Keep track of any side effects to report back to your doctor.

Feel free to phone the chemotherapy nurses during working hours if you’re experiencing unmanageable side effects. You may also call the after-hours emergency line for advice from any one of our oncologists.


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