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How should I prepare for chemotherapy?

There are some things you should take care of before you start chemotherapy:

  • Get your teeth cleaned and a dental check-up. Chemotherapy weakens your immune system so you may be more vulnerable to infections caused by bacteria that are dislodged during teeth cleaning.
  • Get any heart tests (like an electrocardiogram) that your doctor recommends.
  • If you’re a woman, get a Pap smear if you’re due for one;  chemotherapy can alter the results.
  • Organize your rides to treatment. Ask a friend or family member to take you.
  • Chemotherapy can drain most of your energy, so line up someone to help around the house with chores. You'll also need someone to help with grocery shopping and cooking.
  • Join a cancer support group or talk to a cancer survivor.
  • Consult a registered dietitian about making the best food choices before and during treatment.
  • Tell your doctor all the vitamins, supplements, over-the-counter and prescription medicines you take.
  • Pack a bag to take with you on treatment days. Include books, cards, music players, a journal and pens, or anything else to pass the time. Choose some healthy snacks. You may also want to take a blanket, jacket or warm socks.
  • Talk to your doctor about hair loss. If you plan to wear a wig, go ahead and get it so you can match it to your hair color and style. You may also want to stock up on scarves and hats to keep your head warm.
  • Buy unscented soap, shampoo and detergent. Chemotherapy can make you sensitive to some smells.

You can prepare for chemotherapy by creating a binder that will help you to organize all of the paperwork you’ll receive. I would also suggest that you bring a calendar to keep track of all of your appointments. Lastly, bring healthy snacks, wear comfortable clothes and maybe even pack your favorite book or movie to keep you entertained during longer sessions.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.