How to prepare for Cancer Journey

Beginning treatment is a daunting and anxious time. It can take several days or weeks until you meet with a specialist to learn more about your diagnosis and this time can be filled with anxiety and fear. To help you cope during this time you should plan and learn the following:

  • How to prepare for treatment.
  • What to expect during treatment.
  • Learning how to cope and control anxiety and depression.
  • How will you take care of yourself?
  • Practice healthy habits.

Know exactly what your treatment involves

You may feel like you have no control but through some simple steps you can feel stronger and more prepared. One of the single most important things you can do is to make sure you and your cancer care team are on the same page about exactly what your treatment involves. Not knowing can worsen stress, so it's important to know how treatment will work, what options you have and what help you can get. 

Discuss the following points

  • What will happen during treatment?
  • How long will the treatment take?
  • What are the potential side effects?
  • What is the ultimate goal of your treatment? 

Practice Healthy Habits

Waiting for treatment to start is a very anxious time. How you feel going into treatment can affect how you feel while it’s underway. This can affect the length of your recovery and even worsen side effects. To help you feel your best before treatment starts you should take note of your mental and physical health. 

Consider changing a few things in your daily life 

Eat Healthy  Treatment can kill healthy cells, so it's important to go into treatment with a strong and healthy body to help you be able to cope better with the side effects. 
Exercise Treatment will reduce how much you can exercise. Being fit and healthy will help you be able to regain your strength quicker after you finish treatment. 
Mental Health  Learn different de-stress techniques like meditation or yoga. Or you may want to try talking to a therapist.

 

Practical Concerns

Undoubtedly, not all frustration and anxiety before and during treatment is actually about cancer, but about the practical concerns. It can become hard to come to terms that you might not be able to do everything, but always remember it is okay to ask for help!

To make life easier and a lot more comfortable, think about how you will take care of yourself at home. What are the things you might need help with? By doing this, you will be able to plan around your day to day life to make things easier.

Plan Ahead 

 Housework 
  • Plan ahead and prioritise things that need doing most.
  • After treatment, pace yourself and take breaks. Don't over do it, as side effects can become worse. 
  • Spread tasks out over the week. 
Shopping 
  • Ask family or a friend to help with the food shop. They can do it online for you, if you are not able to look at food due to nausea. 
  • Make a list before, so you do not waste energy or time.
  • Ask shop staff for help pack and carry groceries to the car.
Preparing Meals 
  • Sit when preparing food. Create a space where you can do this. 
  • Prepare extra dishes or double portions of food and freeze them for when you need them.
Washing & Dressing
  • Have a bath, if you don't have the energy to stand.
  • Ask your doctor if they can give you a shower chair. 
  • Buy clothes that are easy to take on and off.
  • Sit down when getting dressed or ironing. 
Ask for Help 
  • You might need to ask people to help with specific jobs, like picking up the kids, walking the dog or cutting the grass. 
  • You might need someone to drive you to and from treatments. You might feel fine after a session but this can change at any time. The other benefit of bringing someone with you is for emotional support. 
Speak to Someone 

If you need to ease uncertainty, anxiety, or fear, connect with other people who have cancer. This can be through a charity, fb groups or any other social media.

 

Things to prepare before treatment starts

Before treatment starts there are some things you need to know. For instance, if you are having chemo the first 48 hours after treatment, small amounts of chemotherapy drugs will leave your body through urine, vomit and other body fluids.

It is important to keep these chemicals away from yourself and others in your home. Ask your doctor if you have any questions or check out our 'Chemotherapy Safety at Home' blog post for more info. 

Consider these things below 

See a Dentist
 
  • If you haven’t seen your dentist in the past 6 months, it’s a good idea to have a checkup before starting chemotherapy. 
  • Treating any infections before you begin chemotherapy can help lower the risk of complications during treatment, as well as delays in treatment.
Expect Changes in Your Appearance
  • Chemo and radiation may cause hair loss, weight loss, or skin rashes as side effects. Prepare yourself for these possibilities.
  • Ask your doctor what changes to expect, this will make it less shocking when it happens. 
  • A top tip for people with long hair, is to get it cut short. This helps the hair loss stage seem less aggressive and your hair will look fuller. 
Create Recovery Space

Think about where you might need to recover, like your living room or bedroom. 

  • Can you get to water easily?
  • Are there outlets nearby for laptop and phone chargers?
  • Drawers to keep medications nearby?
  • Do you like what you see? Decorate with things that make you feel good, like plants and pictures of your family.

 

For tips read - 'How to Create a Chemo Kit' or  'How a PICC Line is Fitted'