When you've been diagnosed with cancer, your family doctor will probably refer you to a cancer specialist so you can begin treatments at a cancer center. Going to a cancer treatment center for the first time can be a little scary since there are so many stories about how bad chemotherapy can be to undergo. Here are some things you might want to know about starting treatment at a cancer center.
Choosing Your Treatment Center
Some cancer centers specialize in certain types of cancers and their treatments. These centers may have equipment not available everywhere or they may even offer new treatments in clinical trials. Talk to your doctor if such a treatment center is right for you if it involves lengthy travel. In many cases, it is worth finding an appropriate local cancer treatment center that is easy to get to since you will probably be exhausted and ready to get home as quickly as possible after treatment.
Preparing For Your First Treatment
Your first chemotherapy treatment will probably be the most nerve-wracking simply because you don't know what to expect and everything is new and different. You'll share the waiting room and treatment room with other people in various stages of their cancer treatment. You may even form strong bonds with some of them and support each other through the process. However, if you prefer privacy, you can have that too as you might snooze on and off through the process that usually takes several hours.
Before you actually begin your chemotherapy, you'll probably have blood drawn and tested to be sure you're in condition to proceed. This can cause a lengthy wait until your blood results are read by the doctor and you're approved for treatment. The chemotherapy infusion room is made as comfortable as possible for you. You'll stretch out on a comfortable recliner and you can watch TV, work online, or read a book. Everything you need will be supplied including drinks, snacks, and warm blankets.
However, nothing is as good as the comforts you bring from home, so you may want some of your favorite snacks along with your favorite blanket and fuzzy slippers. You'll probably be allowed to bring along one family member or friend to keep you company too. You might have a port put in so you won't have to have an IV started each time, but if you don't, the nurse will put in an IV every visit. Your drugs are brought up from the pharmacy and delivered through the IV which can make you chilly during the treatment and you might feel nauseated, exhausted, or hyped up depending on your reaction to the cocktail of drugs you receive.
Everyone reacts to chemotherapy a little differently, but one common side effect is hair loss. Your cancer treatment center might offer cold caps to help save your hair if they are appropriate for your type of cancer.