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For Everyone Touched By Cancer

How To Prepare For Chemotherapy Treatment | 6 Easy Steps

Written by Cancer Care Parcel on 
7th February, 2023
Updated: 3rd March, 2024
Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Preparation for chemotherapy treatment is important to ensure a smoother and less stressful experience. By preparing, you can gain a better understanding of chemo and what to expect during treatment, including chemo side effects and how to manage them. This will help you arrange for support, transportation, and work arrangements, making the treatment process smoother and less stressful. Preparation can also help you maintain overall physical and mental health during treatment. It's important to remember that everyone's experience with chemotherapy is unique, but here are some guidelines to help you prepare yourself or your loved-one for the treatment to come.

1. Talk to your doctor about your cancer treatment

Discuss your treatment plan and any questions or concerns you have with your doctor. This can help ensure that you are fully informed and prepared for what to expect during chemotherapy.

Here are some questions you may want to ask your treatment team about your chemo:

  • What is my specific treatment plan and what chemotherapy drug or drugs will I be receiving?
  • How often and for how long will I be receiving treatments?
  • What are the potential side effects and how can they be managed?
  • Will I have hair loss?
  • What precautions should I take during and after treatment to minimize risk of infection?
  • What can I do to manage fatigue, nausea and other side effects of treatment?
  • What should I do if I experience a new symptom or change in my condition?
  • Are there any specific dietary restrictions or recommendations during treatment?
  • Are there any activities or substances I should avoid during treatment?
  • Can you provide any resources, such as support services or financial assistance programs, to help me cope with treatment?
  • How will my treatment affect my daily life and work schedule?

It's important to ask any questions you have about your treatment before treatment starts and to communicate any concerns or worries you may have to your treatment team, so they can help you manage your chemotherapy experience as effectively as possible.

2. Get your home ready before your chemotherapy treatment

Make changes around your home, before treatment starts, to make it easier for you to get around and rest comfortably, such as clearing clutter and arranging for household help if needed.

  1. Clean and disinfect: Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as countertops, doorknobs, and light switches, to reduce the risk of infection.
  2. Make your home safe: Remove tripping hazards, such as rugs or electrical cords, and ensure that your home is well-lit for safety.
  3. Create a comfortable environment: Ensure that your home is at a comfortable temperature and that you have plenty of pillows, blankets, and soft lighting to create a comfortable environment.
  4. Plan meals in advance: Consider preparing meals in advance, or having friends or family help with meal preparation, so that you have healthy and easy-to-eat foods available during treatment.
  5. Plan for quiet time: Set aside time for rest and relaxation, and consider having family or friends help care for children or pets during this time.

3. Stock up on essentials

Before chemotherapy begins make sure you have plenty of healthy foods, drinks, and other essentials on hand, such as over-the-counter pain relievers, tissues, and personal care items.

Here are some essentials you may want to consider stocking up on before starting your cancer treatment:

Personal hygiene items

Hand sanitizer, tissues, and lip balm can help you stay comfortable and germ-free during treatment.

Hydrating fluids

  • Water: Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated.
  • Electrolyte-rich drinks: Sports drinks, coconut water, and electrolyte-infused water can help replace lost electrolytes and minerals.
  • Clear broths: Broths such as chicken or vegetable broth can help replenish fluids and provide important nutrients.
  • Frozen fruit juice or fruit popsicles: These can help increase fluid intake and provide important vitamins and minerals.
  • Herbal tea: Herbal teas, such as chamomile or peppermint, can help soothe the digestive system and increase fluid intake.
  • Milk: Milk and milk-based products, such as smoothies, can provide fluids and important nutrients, such as calcium and protein.

It's important to note that some chemotherapy treatments can cause changes in taste or smell, so it's important to choose fluids that are well-tolerated.

Nutritious foods

After a cancer diagnosis, many people find that following a healthy, balanced diet gives them back a sense of control and when undergoing chemo this can be even more important. Stock up on healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, to help boost your immune system, energy levels and mental health. This is especially important as good nutrition has been shown to help reduce some of the side effects of chemotherapy.

Medications

Make sure you have a sufficient supply of any medications you take on a regular basis before your chemotherapy begins, as well as over the counter medicines or remedies for common side effects, such as nausea and constipation.

Comforts of home

Consider bringing items to your treatment sessions that make you feel more comfortable, such as a blanket, a book, healthy snacks, and/or a tablet for entertainment.

A notebook or journal

Keeping track of your thoughts, feelings, and symptoms can be helpful during chemotherapy sessions and after, as well as providing a way to remember important information.

And finally, for this section, add chemo essentials to your chemo bag, so you are always ready to take your important items to sessions. More tips on how to pack a chemo bag can be found here and some of our bags are shown below.

4. Plan for transportation

Planning transportation for chemotherapy treatments is an important aspect of preparation. You should arrange for a reliable means of transportation to and from your treatment sessions. You can consider enlisting the help of a friend, family member, or transportation service. If you are unable to find someone to help, you may want to discuss transportation options with your healthcare team, who may be able to provide information about local resources. It's important to plan transportation in advance to avoid any last-minute stress or inconvenience. Having a reliable transportation plan in place will give you peace of mind and ensure that you can get to your appointments on time.

5. Get your financial affairs in order before your treatment sessions

Consider the financial impact of treatment and make arrangements for health insurance, bills, and any necessary time off work. It's important to have these financial matters in order to reduce stress and allow you to focus on your health during chemotherapy.

Steps you can take to get your financial affairs in order before starting chemotherapy:

Review your budget and expenses

Make a list of your monthly expenses and compare them to your income. Identify any unnecessary expenses you can cut back on to help manage your finances during treatment.

Review insurance coverage

Check your health insurance coverage to see what it covers, including chemotherapy treatments. If you don't have insurance, consider enrolling in a plan.

Consider disability insurance

If you are unable to work during treatment, consider enrolling in disability insurance to replace some of your lost income.

Make arrangements for bill payments

Consider setting up automatic bill payments or arranging for someone you trust to manage your finances if you are unable to do so during treatment.

Seek financial assistance

Look into financial assistance programs, such as charitable organizations, that may be able to help you pay for medical expenses.

Consider a power of attorney

Consider granting a trusted friend or family member power of attorney to manage your finances and make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so during treatment.

6. Make arrangements for support

You may need help with tasks such as household chores, and taking care of other responsibilities during treatment. Consider enlisting the help of friends, family, or a caregiver during this time. You can also reach out to local support services such as a visiting nurse or home health aide, or a support group for people with cancer.

It's important to have a support system in place to help you manage the physical and emotional challenges that may arise during treatment. You will need to and balance rest and physical activity. Having a support network can help with this and provide a sense of comfort and reduce stress, helping you focus on your recovery. Don't be afraid to ask for help, and remember that many people are willing and able to support you during this time.

Remember to reach out to your health care team if you have any questions or concerns. They are there to help you throughout your journey and can provide additional guidance on preparing for chemo sessions.

Going into more detail

Here are some more articles answering some FAQ regarding preparing for chemo

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We strongly advise you to talk with a health care professional about specific medical conditions and treatments. The information on our site is meant to be helpful and educational but is not a substitute for medical advice.

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