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Mesothelioma Patients Should Plan Ahead for Chemotherapy Treatments to Help Ease the Stress


Mesothelioma is a serious and rare cancer that occurs in individuals who have been exposed to airborne asbestos fibers. Often called asbestos cancer, close to 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with the cancer yearly. Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, it can be treated with varying degrees of success. Chemotherapy is one of the primary modes of mesothelioma treatment, and although undergoing chemotherapy can be daunting, proper planning can help make the treatments less stressful.

The time spent receiving chemotherapy treatments can vary from patient to patient, and can vary between each visit. Not only are patients administered the appropriate chemotherapy treatments, but they may also be given additional drugs to treat iron deficiency, vitamin deficiencies and dehydration. Your time there could be as short as two hours or it could be all day. Before heading to the oncology center, check with your oncologist to get a better idea of the amount of time you will be there.

Planning for Your Day in the Oncology Center

  • Food and Drinks. Although most oncology centers are stocked with food and drinks, having a bottle of water and the food you know you can tolerate with you can make your visit more pleasant. If you are there over the lunch hour, more than likely the hospital will supply a lunch, but again, bringing your own comfort food may be a good idea. Don Smitley, a mesothelioma survivor, said he always took “water, fruit and a sandwich” with him to help him get through his chemotherapy treatments. If you have a guest with you, they should bring their own food.
  • Blanket. Oncology centers are cold, and when the chemotherapy begins running through your veins, you will feel even colder. Oncology centers provide heated blankets that feel great and help stop the chill, however, it may sometimes take several blankets to ward off the cold the entire time you are there. Consider taking your own blanket that can be folded or rolled and easily carried to the center. A small fleece blanket can make the difference in keeping you warm.
  • Comfortable Clothes. You will be sitting or lounging in a chair during your treatment, and it is important that the clothes you wear are comfortable and practical. You may have a port inserted and the shirt you wear should allow easy access for connecting the IV. If you do not have a port, the oncology nurse will need to connect the IV through a vein in your arm, so a short sleeved shirt, or one with sleeves that can be easily rolled up, is important. You may want to take your shoes off for added comfort, so bringing some booties or non-skid slippers is also a good idea.
  • Entertainment. Much of your time at the oncology center may be spent sleeping, but make sure to bring a book, magazine or notebook to occupy yourself while awake. Most centers have TVs at each station so you may be able to watch your favorite TV show or the news. Also, check with the center to find out if they have Wi-Fi available. You may be able to bring your laptop or iPad and surf the internet while there.

With a little planning, the time you spend at the oncology center can be relaxing and may even afford you time to read a book or catch up on the news. Work with your medical team to find out if any foods are off limits and if there is anything else they recommend you bring for your treatment. With a little planning, your mesothelioma treatments can be a little less intimidating.

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