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Chemotherapy Preparation Tips

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

What to Expect on Your First Day of Chemotherapy

Being diagnosed with cancer is a scary time and can bring feelings of uncertainty, frustration, anger and fear. Chemotherapy and immunotherapy are two of several modalities to treat cancer today. These medications can be given intravenously, as an injection, and some are available as a pill. Before you start treatment, you will most likely have an education session with a nurse to discuss your treatment

regimen, potential side effects, symptom management, and who to call for urgent issues and support.

Below are a few questions I’ve been asked by patients starting chemotherapy:

1. Can I eat before and during my treatment? Yes. Eat a small meal or a snack before your

appointment. Having a little food in your stomach is preferable to prevent your blood sugar from

dropping. No need to fast unless instructed by your doctor. Depending on your length of

treatment, feel free to bring a snack or even lunch. Infusion centers may offer small snacks (i.e.

pretzels or peanut butter crackers) and beverages to patients.

2. What type of clothing should I wear? Comfortable, loose fitting clothing. If you have a port, it’s

best to wear a “v-neck” or button-down shirt so that the nurse can easily access it for bloodwork

and/or treatment. Port shirts have recently become popular. They can be purchased online (i.e.

Amazon, Etsy, CareandWear). Also, dress in layers. The infusion room may be chilly. Many places

offer blankets to patients while they’re receiving treatment. Feel free to bring your own comfy

blanket as well.

3. What can I bring to pass the time? Bring earbuds, a book, ipad, etc for activity. Some infusion

centers have TVs in each room. Noise-canceling headphones are also great to bring if you prefer

quiet or would like to rest during your treatment.

4. Can I drive myself? Have a friend or family member drive you to your first appointment.

Depending on your treatment, you may feel too tired to drive yourself home. If you don’t have

someone to drive you, a rideshare program offered by the cancer treatment centers can help with


Starting treatment for cancer is overwhelming. Keep a journal or notebook of questions and concerns

that may arise and bring to your next appointment. Keep track of side effects that you may experience at

home. For instance, if you feel nauseated three days afterward, write it down. The doctor or nurse

practitioner will want to know how you felt after your last infusion so that they can better manage any

symptoms and effectively assist you through treatment. You are not alone. We are here for you.

Editor; Maryanne Fiorella, BSN, RN, OCN


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