Preparing for Chemotherapy in 11 Steps
Receiving a cancer diagnosis can drastically alter the course of your life. Not only does it signal the beginning of an incredibly difficult time and expensive recovery process, but the effort required to prepare yourself, and your family – as much as any person can prepare for chemotherapy – can make the struggle seem insurmountable. Don’t lose heart, though; there are a few things you can do to lessen the burdens of cancer and treatment and make your recovery that much less taxing in the long run. Below, the team from Chemo Mouthpiece™ offer suggestions for how to prepare for chemotherapy in 11 steps; continue reading to learn more.
11 Steps to Take Before Starting Chemo
The concerns of a cancer patient can quickly become overwhelming, but taking steps to get ready for your eventual hardship while you still have the energy to do so can make your life easier later on. Here are 11 steps to take before starting chemo that will help you prepare.
Step 1: Learn About the Disease
Knowledge is power; in the case of a cancer patient, knowledge of your disease and its treatment will give you the power to defeat it through planning and preparation. The nuances of cancer may not be obvious to someone without experience in the matter, but different forms of cancer behave in different ways, and the location of your cancer will determine how and where you are treated. After diagnosis, speak with your doctor or a specialist to learn all you can about what to expect. Ask all the questions you can think of! After that, use online resources – many of which are supplied by people who have battled cancer themselves – to arm yourself and your family with as much information as possible. There are so many professional, medical resources out there that can help, too.
Step 2: Establish a Support Network
There are a number of debilitating chemotherapy side effects that might put you out of commission for days at a time. When you’re wiped out by the treatment drugs and are in need of rest, it can be easy to let simple things fall through the cracks – things like cleaning your house, preparing meals, watching the kids, etc. Enlisting friends and family to help you out can reduce your burden and help you save your strength for recovering.
Step 3: Talk to Your Employer
As mentioned above, chemotherapy can make it difficult to perform even the most basic household chores, let alone the kinds of complex tasks you might have to handle at work. Speak with your boss, supervisor, or HR representative and work out an arrangement to accommodate your condition. Working part-time or from home can help you keep your strength up on days when you’re feeling too nauseous or fatigued to move around much. Also, many jobs allow a medical leave of absence during treatment, too!
Step 4: Clear Your Schedule
In the hours and days following each treatment, it’s likely that you won’t be up for much in the way of social gatherings. Clearing your schedule for those days can help give you the freedom to rest or relax without having to cancel plans or make excuses. At times like these, recovering your strength should be your top priority. And if you have prior obligations, don’t feel bad about cancelling plans! You need as much rest as possible and don’t need any other added stresses.
Step 5: Visit Your Dentist
Surprised? Unfortunately, most people don’t think of oral care during chemo as an important part of their road to recovery. However, one of the most debilitating side effects of chemotherapy for many patients is oral mucositis, a condition in which sores develop in the mouth. Because this ailment can be exacerbated by poor oral hygiene and leaves you at risk for a potentially serious infection, a trip to the dentist can help ensure that you – and your mouth – are prepared to face any side effects that may appear.
Step 6: Get a Chemo Mouthpiece™
Like the previous step, this tip is meant to help mitigate the effects of oral mucositis, as it is one of the few chemo side effects over which a patient has some measure of control. Cryotherapy – cold therapy – can limit the severity of mouth sores. The Chemo Mouthpiece™ is an advanced oral cryotherapy device specifically invented by a cancer survivor to address chemo-related oral mucositis. Getting one for yourself or your loved one can significantly improve their quality of life and help them avoid the worst of their mucositis symptoms.
Step 7: Get Some Comfortable Clothing
Patients undergoing chemotherapy are often left to sit for hours in a cold room while their medication is slowly administered through an IV. Getting yourself comfy pajamas or sweats and a nice, warm blanket can go a long way toward making you more comfortable in an otherwise bleak setting. Also, remember that hair loss is not uncommon with chemotherapy, so you may want to pick up a hat or scarf to keep your head warm as well.
Step 8: Invest in Entertainment
While sitting in the hospital in your comfy clothes, you’ll probably want a few options to keep yourself occupied as the hours pass. Patients bring everything from magazines to DVD players to stacks of paperback novels with them to their treatments; find something that works for you and keep it on hand during your visits to the hospital. Crossword puzzles or other word/number games are also a good way to keep your brain sharp all while passing time!
Step 9: Find a Reliable Water Bottle
This step may seem underwhelming compared to the others, but you’d be surprised how helpful a good water bottle can be, especially when you’re very sick. Dehydration is a common problem for cancer patients; those with mouth sores or severe nausea often don’t want to consume anything, even water, and patients in the depths of depression or fatigue may not have the energy to get up and fill a glass with water. Springing for a nice water bottle can help ensure that you always have a convenient source of water on hand, and many affordable bottles can keep your water cold for hours.
Step 10: Plan Your Meals
It can be next to impossible to say for certain how treatment will impact a specific person’s health or nutrition, but there are a few ways you can plan ahead. For starters, begin thinking about easy meals you can make on days when you have little to no energy. Consider the possibility that your sense of taste could change, and you may suddenly start to hate familiar foods. Look for recipes online, and consider stocking up on things like meal replacement shakes as a way to keep yourself nourished. Remember you might not have much energy for shopping once the treatments have begun, so foods that you can buy ahead of time and that will last for months are especially valuable: think canned soups and frozen meals. If you’re unsure of what to get, ask your doctor or nutritionist for advice. Pre-made meal services are also a good way to have nutritious food on hand!
Step 11: Stock Your Kitchen
Once you have some idea as to what you might be eating during your treatments, it’s time to stock up on food. Most people view grocery shopping as a tedious chore, even when they’re healthy; to someone battling cancer and the effects of chemotherapy, a trip to the supermarket or local grocer can be an almost unbearable experience. To make things easier on yourself and minimize trips to the store, fill your fridge, pantry, cabinets, and shelves with as many non-perishable goods as you can, with a focus on foods with greater nutritional value. Buying snacks to bring to treatment are always helpful too!
How to Prepare Your Home for Chemotherapy
Getting your living space ready to support you or a loved one struggling with chemotherapy is less complicated than it may seem. Much of the process simply involves completing common household chores well in advance of treatments, when you still have the energy to, say, do the laundry or stock up on groceries.
Keep Your Home Clean
One of the most important steps to take to prepare your home for chemotherapy is to clean it as well as you can. A patient’s living conditions often have a clear impact on their recovery; someone staying in a dirty or messy home tends to face additional stress over the state of their living situation, and they then must spend some of their very limited energy reserves tidying up. Taking the time to clean your home top to bottom before your first treatment can go a long way toward making your life easier during chemo, and it may even speed your recovery a bit. A clean home can give you a clear mind and make you feel more relaxed!
Consider Your Dietary Requirements
Another key consideration for patients is preparing to meet your nutritional requirements. Go food shopping before your first treatment and focus on buying products that are easy to prepare and nutritionally dense. Odds are you’ll have difficulty handling large meals – or even medium-sized ones – once the side effects of chemo start appearing, so aim for foods that offer a lot of calories and key macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbs) in small packages, things like:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Sources of whole grains
- Meal replacement shakes
- Plant proteins (nuts, beans, soy)
- Lean animal proteins
- Low-fat dairy products
The dietary requirements of a chemo patient can vary depending on the exact side effects they experience. Speak with your doctor and ask what symptoms you can reasonably expect, then plan around those. For instance, if a loss of appetite is likely, high-calorie foods and drinks – milkshakes, fast food, snacks – may help make eating more tolerable while giving your body the energy it needs. Nausea, however, will likely mean small portions of healthy foods throughout the day; you may not be able to tolerate high-calorie, high-fat foods if your stomach is upset.
A final thought for those about to undergo chemotherapy treatments: Even simple tasks are about to become much more draining. When just getting up to go to the bathroom can leave you feeling wiped out, it can be helpful to prioritize your own convenience, so make sure things you’ll need are close at hand. If you have a two-story home, plan to sleep on the couch some nights to avoid having to climb the stairs; to avoid trips to the store, stock up on necessities like toilet paper ahead of time. Essentially, your goal should be to minimize energy expenditure while you’re recovering so that your body can use its resources to heal. And finally, don’t forget to ask for help when you need it. There is nothing wrong with asking loved ones for help!
Fight Mouth Sores with Help from the Chemo Mouthpiece™
Chemo patients have 1,001 things to worry about before and during treatments. While the Chemo Mouthpiece™ can’t address all of them, this advanced oral cryotherapy device can help patients mitigate the worst of their mucositis symptoms. If you or someone you know is worried about getting mouth sores because of chemotherapy, the Chemo Mouthpiece™ might make all the difference. To learn more about our product, visit us online or call (866) 461-7518 today.