How to Prepare For Your First Cancer Treatment

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Have you recently been diagnosed with cancer? Are you scheduled to start outpatient cancer treatment soon? Being diagnosed with cancer can be scary, especially when you don't know what to expect. No matter what type of treatment you'll be receiving, there are still some things you can do to make your appointments more comfortable. These things include:

Pack a bag: Whether you're a man or a woman, having a small bag packed to take along with you to your cancer treatment can be extremely important. A small messenger-type bag or purse can hold everything that you'll need. Each session may take several hours to complete, so you should consider bringing either a couple of books, a computer tablet, or an e-reader to pass the time. If you decide to bring any electronics with you, make sure to bring along the appropriate charging equipment as well. 

Bring along a sleeping mask: A cancer treatment session can sometimes wear a person out, even though all you're doing is sitting there. If your treatment is scheduled to last for several hours, why not take advantage of this fact and take a nap? Your oncologist's treatment area should have many comfortable chairs that are suitable for napping. If you do decide to take a nap, you may want to use a luggage lock on your bag to make sure nobody, accidentally or on purpose, is able to access or walk away with your things. While the majority of people that you meet in your doctor's office should be reasonable and trustworthy, it's usually better to play it safe anyway just in case.

Pack a snack and something to drink: You've probably heard that chemotherapy will make you lose your appetite or make you nauseated. While this can be true of cancer treatment, this side-effect may not appear for weeks, if at all. In the meantime, you'll be sitting at the doctor's office for hours, perhaps even through what would normally be your lunch time. Your doctor may provide small snacks or drinks for your appointment time, but you'll have no control over these things and whether or not they are actually something that you would like. Add several bottles of chilled water or sports drink to your bag, in case you get thirsty during your appointment. If you do decide to bring snacks or a lunch item, make sure that you bring nothing with a strong smell. Other people who are getting their cancer treatment at the same time may be experiencing a heightened sense of smell that can trigger nausea or other symptoms. A couple of sandwiches or a salad is a good idea—tuna salad or egg salad are not.

For more tip on how to prepare for your first cancer treatment, talk to an oncologist at a medical center like Southwest Oncology Centers.