16 Jun How to prepare for cancer treatment
How to prepare for cancer treatment once you’ve been diagnosed with cancer? You surely felt like you’d been kicked in the stomach. Having cancer changes everything, not just in your life but for everyone around you, whether close friends or family.
Every one is different, and cancer treatments can affect each person differently: physical changes, how you feel and your emotional reaction.
Tips on how to prepare for cancer treatment
In this article, we want to give you some tips on how to prepare for cancer treatment and to tackle this challenging time ahead.
Bring someone with you for your tests and treatments
Many people feel calmer with someone to talk to, or who is simply there for support. If you prefer to go alone, of course that’s fine, too.
Express your fears and doubts about cancer treatment
It is totally normal to be concerned, especially at the beginning of treatment. At this time, it’s important to identify your feelings and share them to feel better.
Ask your oncologist anything you need to
Don’t believe everything you read or hear; it’s best to ask your doctor. The anticipation of a situation often makes us imagine it much worse than it actually is. Knowing precisely the procedures, side effects and possible sensations you may experience will help dissipate often-unfounded fears.
Take notes on your symptoms
Keeping track of them will help you share with your doctor and choose the best cancer treatment.
Use relaxation techniques before and during tests
Meditation, yoga or other relaxation techniques may help you before cancer treatment.
Side effects of cancer treatment are temporary
Plus, they don’t affect everyone the same, so don’t pay too much attention to other people’s experiences. Remember that, along the way, you’ll have good and bad days. If you feel really poorly, remember that it will pass and try to set short-term goals for yourself. Live one day at a time.
Keep up your appearance
The better you look and feel, the more strength you’ll have to face all the challenges ahead. Keeping up your appearance, although it takes a bit more effort, will help you feel much better.
Don’t get obsessed with monitoring your symptoms
As we’ve noted, it’s important to keep track of them, but don’t let it worry you too much. Thinking too much about your body can make you over-sensitive to any changes and that leads to a lot of anxiety.
Ask for help
At times, it may be hard to do everything you did before. Ask those around you to help and don’t force your body.
Spend time doing things you like. This is a time to put yourself first and pamper yourself.
If you’re very nervous, tell your doctor. They may be able to give you some medication to help lower your anxiety levels.
How to prepare for cancer surgery
A cancer operation is normally major surgery, so you will have to be in the hospital for some time. It depends on the patient but generally between one and two weeks.
If it is minor surgery, like a biopsy or removing a polyp, you will only have to spend a few hours in the hospital.
Before cancer surgery, doctors normally run tests that includes blood and coagulation labs, an EKG and a chest x-ray.
Then the patient is called in for an appointment with the anaesthetist, who after assessing their general physical state and the results of the tests, will determine the best type of anaesthesia for the operation and the patient’s risk resulting from that anaesthesia.
Before surgery, you will receive all the information on the surgical technique to be used, the risks and complications involved in this type of surgery, the side effects you may experience and recommendations for minimising complications.
Nowadays it is common for doctors to ask you to read and sign a document with all this information. By doing so, you are saying you have received and understood the information and consent to undergo that treatment.
Types of anaesthesia
Anaesthesia makes you numb to pain for a certain period of time. Depending on the type and location of the operation, you will need a certain type of anaesthesia. Anaesthesia can be local, regional or general.
Generally used for small surgeries like taking a skin biopsy. The drug is administered in one or several injections to the affected area. The patient is totally awake but the area is numb.
A whole section of the body is numb but the patient is still conscious. In general, the patient is also given a sedative, however, to keep them calm during the surgery. An epidural is one example of this type of anaesthesia. The anaesthetic is injected into the epidural space between two vertebrae in the lumbar region, the lower back, to block the pain impulses from travelling between the nerve roots. The patient loses sensation in the lower half of their body.
The patient is unconscious throughout the surgery and doesn’t feel any sort of pain. Generally, this state is induced using an intravenous anaesthetic. During surgery, the anaesthetist monitors the patient’s vital signs.