7 Tips for Preparing for Chemotherapy and Radiation

Breast Cancer Team Drafting Your Teams, Doing Your Research and Organizing Your Medical Records

By Margot Malin, Founder, CEO and President of Lots To Live For, Inc.

Preparing for chemotherapy and radiation is complicated and confusing. Organization can help you become more comfortable with the journey ahead.  Read these 7 tips to help you identify your teams and learn about hard facts relating to your treatment protocol.

  1. Draft your medical and support teams.  Figure out who will be your “go to” person or persons for different questions and issues.  Your “medical team” members can include: your surgeon, your oncologist, your oncology nurses, your nurse navigator, and a cancer coach.  Your “support team” can include friends, family and individuals you meet through support organizations such as a local Gilda’s Club or hospital or church sponsored support group. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and don’t be embarrassed to accept help when offered. Click to learn more about nurse navigators and cancer coaches.
  2. Do your research so that you thoroughly understand your treatment protocol. Be active in selecting your course of treatment if you are given a series of choices or options. Having some control and “buying in” will help your frame of mind and some might even argue, can even enhance your outcome. Do as much research as you feel comfortable with. If you are not a scientist, don’t try to become one. Focus on the important facts. The book The Web-Savvy Patient: An Insider’s Guide to Navigating the Internet When Facing Medical Crisis is a helpful resource.
  3. Understand what your treatment side effects might be. As you do your research, be sure to review the potential physical side effects that might result from your treatment. Different chemotherapy regimens cause different side effects. Being aware of these issues can help you to prepare in advance and purchase products which can help reduce these side effects. To view products to help relieve cancer treatment side effects visit the on line store: http://www.lotstolivefor.com/.
  4. Organize your medical records.  An important way to take control of your health is to take control of your medical records. Be sure you have them organized and in one easily accessible location. You will be visiting a number of doctors and facilities and receiving a variety of treatments and tests.  It is unlikely that they will all be coordinated at the practitioner level.  Electronic medical records do not mean that all of your records are coordinated; it just means that each provider keeps your records electronically. Unfortunately, coordination and organization is still the patient’s responsibility. Options for organization are digital, such as personal health record software; or to use analog files which include manila folders, printed x-rays and a loose-leaf notebook. The Minerva Health Manager helps you organize your health records in a single coordinated location and it is portable and can be carried with you to doctor appointments and treatments.
  5. Locate resources of all types to help you.  In addition to your “teams” there are many support organizations that can help.  A good starting point is to look at the “Collection of Cancer Resources” that we have compiled on the Lots To Live For website. Your nurses, nurse navigator or cancer coach can make additional recommendations. Your treatment facility might also recommend or have list of support groups. You might also find comfort through a religious sponsored support organization.
  6. Eat right and read about nutrition for cancer patients.  The right food can make your body stronger.  Unfortunately the converse is also true. Eat nutrient dense foods high in fiber and packed with vitamins and minerals. Avoid processed and refined sugars.  Carefully selected nutritional supplements can be a valuable tool in rebuilding your body’s immune system. You might also want to consult a nutritionist who specializes in cancer nutrition.  Two books of interest include: American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Nutrition for Cancer Survivors: Eating Well, Staying Well During and After Cancer and The Whole-Food Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors: A Nutritional Approach to Preventing Recurrence Continue healthy eating during treatment and after treatment is complete.
  7. Prepare your body through careful exercise and stretching. Optimize your mobility, strength and conditioning before your surgery or other treatment protocol. This can help reduce your recovery time. For example, after consulting with your medical team (for guidelines and prohibitions), start stretching to open up your chest and shoulder muscles before beginning if you are having breast surgery, so that you enter treatment with the best mobility possible.

Although you probably feel overwhelmed right now you can create positive energy by embracing these 7 tips. They can help empower you as you start your journey.  The key takeaways are to: take control and be proactive, be organized, create support networks using the numerous resources available and make educated choices.

Related Article:

About Margot Malin: Intellectually cMargot Malinurious and fiercely independent, Margot Malin has a passion for knowledge.  After receiving her MBA from The Wharton School, she launched her career by analyzing and evaluating businesses.  In 2002 she embarked on the “creative reinvention” phase of her career with the intention of “giving back”. Margot founded Lots To Live For, Inc., an internet retailer that sells carefully selected products to reduce and relieve the uncomfortable and unpleasant side effects caused by chemotherapy and radiation.

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