What to ask the chemo nurses before your first chemo cycle
So you have been told that you need to have chemotherapy and you are off to visit the chemo ward in advance of your treatment commencing. It is scary. It is daunting. It is horrible. It is terrifying. It is not what you want to be doing. But maybe by taking back a little bit of control and preparing for it, you might feel less daunted. Take a pen and paper and make a list of all the questions that you have for the chemo nurses. Here are some suggestions, although a lot of these will be hopefully answered by the nurses before you even have a chance to ask:
1. Which chemotherapy drugs will I be given – what are their full names? (You can then look them up on the Cancer Research UK list of chemo drugs to see what sort of side effects to expect.)
2. What are the common side effects associated with those chemo drugs?
3. Do you have a list of which side effects I need to call you about?
4. What are the contact numbers for getting in touch with you if I have concerns about my side effects? Do you have numbers for day and night concerns?
5. What is the procedure and timing for taking my bloods? Do I have them done the day before and if there is a problem do you call me?
6. How will the chemo be given to me? PICC line? Port? Cannula? Should I apply EMLA cream to the site before coming in for my chemo?
7. What time should I arrive on the morning of my chemo?
8. Is there anything in particular that I should bring with me when I come for chemo?
9. How long will I be in hospital when I come for chemo and will it be the same length of time each visit?
10. Will I need to bring any food or drinks with me – should I bring my own lunch?
11. Will I be sitting in a room with other breast cancer patients, or a mix of patients?
12. Do you offer the cold cap?
13. If I decide I would like to try the cold cap do I need to bring anything with me such as conditioner, comb, scarf?
14. How often will I see the oncologist?
15. Will I be given any immunity boosting injections, and if so how will these be administered (by a nurse or at home by me)?
16. Do the immunity boosting injections have any side effects?
17. Can I take any over the counter medication? For example, hayfever medication, paracetamol, indigestion tablets and so on?
18. What pre-meds and post-meds will I be given?
19. If the treatment is likely to cause my hair to fall out, do you provide support for this and advice on purchasing wigs?
20. Does the hospital have any support groups or a counselling service?
All the best for your treatment.
p.s. take a look at the chemotherapy section on the website for more tips on planning to start chemo.