Planning for Your Treatment
By improving your baseline health before cancer treatment, you could decrease
the chance of having difficult or severe post-treatment side effects like
muscle weakness, pain, fatigue, dry mouth, appetite changes, sensitive
gums and emotional stress.
Some suggestions to order to prepare yourself for cancer treatment are to:
Build strength — Increasing your fitness level prior to cancer surgery or treatment
may reduce the length of time you need to recover and minimize complications.
Stop smoking — Smoking can put you at a higher risk for many surgical and treatment
complications, such as infections, wound healing and cardiovascular health.
Be proactive with dental health –– Cancer and treatments can weaken your immune system, sometimes
causing mouth infections and delaying treatments. Make sure your mouth
is as healthy as possible before you start treatment, especially with
a dentist who’s familiar with cancer patients.
Improve your diet — Nutrition plays an important role in recovery. Do your best to
increase intake of healthy proteins (lean meats, fish, nuts and legumes),
fruits and vegetables, and reduce the amount of sugar, fat and salt in
Manage stress — Explore stress management skills that work for you. This will
help you cope with anxiety during surgery and/or treatment and recovery.
Techniques such as deep breathing, guided imagery, gentle yoga and tai
chi all may help.
In the days leading up to your treatment, consider getting some extra rest
and seeking emotional support. When your treatment plan is determined,
be sure to talk to your patient navigator about specific things you can
do to make the appointments easier on your body. For instance, if you
have radiation therapy, you may benefit from minimizing time in the sun
and using lotions your healthcare team approves to treat your skin.
Your particular treatment plan will depend on the type of cancer you have,
its location, its growth or stage of development, and what
type of treatment you have.
Most cancer treatments don’t require overnight hospital stays, so
both you and your caregiver may find these tips helpful:
- Making arrangements to get to and from appointments
Packing some essentials for both you and your caregiver to make the day
of treatment more comfortable:
- Something for entertainment, like a book or your phone, during the appointment
if the type of treatment allows
- Headphones if needed
- Tablet/laptop/phone chargers if needed
- Water and health team-approved snacks
- Travel-sized pillow to restExtra sweater or blanket in case you get chilly
caregiver may be your spouse, partner, parent, adult child, close friend, co-worker,
or neighbor – someone who is reliable and can offer physical and
emotional support. They often serve as home health aides and companions
and may help feed, dress, and bathe you at times.
Cancer Basics class is designed to answer questions that you and your caregiver will have
at the beginning of this journey, and to provide you with information
about what to expect. It’s an ideal setting to ask experts any questions
you may have. We hold these sessions several times a month and encourage
patients, family members and caregivers to attend.