We asked Debby Roisen, a nurse educator who heads the Skills Lab, for her best advice for families who are dealing with outpatient chemotherapy. Here's a round-up of her suggestions.
Buy a good thermometer.It's important to take your temperature. If it ever goes above 101 degrees Fahrenheit, call your doctor.
Buy anti-bacterial body wash.Don't use bar soaps that can harbor bacteria.
Keep hand sanitizer nearby.You want to keep germs at bay, but you might not feel up to going to the sink frequently to wash your hands. Hand sanitizer can be a good alternative for times when your hands aren't visibly dirty.
Eat well.It's important to maintain your weight during treatment. Eat before appointments, but avoid spicy or greasy foods that may cause indigestion. If you're having trouble with your appetite, consider consulting with a Cancer Center dietitian.
Opt for gentle dental care.Buy a new, soft toothbrush.
Drink plenty of fluids.This is especially important before appointments. It'll make it easier for nurses to find veins for treatment. Remember to drink extra water if you have coffee, which can cause you to lose fluids.
Use paper towels to dry hands.Communal hand towels should be avoided.
Step back and ask for help.If you're feeling overwhelmed, the Cancer Center has many options to help. Ask your doctor for a referral to the Skills Lab if you need a refresher course on something. Or, if you're feeling stressed, consider an appointment in our PsychOncology Clinic. Our therapists are trained specifically to help families cope with the strain of cancer and its treatment.
See also: Caring for Your Own