When you arrive on your first day, the first thing you will do is check in at the front desk. Of course, we’ll be expecting you and the receptionist may have some paperwork for you to fill out. We’ll let your cancer care team know that you’ve arrived, making you feel at home in our comfortable lobby until you’ve been called. If you haven’t been called within 20 minutes of your scheduled appointment time, please tell the receptionist and we will work quickly to get your treatment started.
While you wait, free cancer resource and educational materials are available for you to take home. In addition, CARTI’s patient education video is available for viewing on a portable DVD player, or you can watch it here before your visit. The video explains what to expect at each point during radiation therapy treatment.
You’ll also be given a brochure titled “Introduction to Radiation Therapy” that you can view here if desired. The brochure walks you through your treatment. You also will receive a patient information packet that includes information about CARTI and the services we have available.
Arriving for your treatment
When you arrive in the chemo suite you will be greeted by our receptionist where you will sign in and be escorted to a private room, if available. If a private room is not available you will be seated in an area where a family member can remain with you during your first treatment. While family members can remain with you during your first treatment, on subsequent visits your family member may only remain with you until the nurse gets you started due to patient volume. Family members may check on you every hour or so until you are finished. We also ask that you not bring children under the age of 13 with you to your chemo appointments, as some of our patients are at greater risk for infection.
Going to the Lab
Before every visit, patients will go to the lab to get blood drawn to confirm that you are able to receive your treatment. First time patients sometimes have already had blood tests at their physician’s office and might skip this lab trip in the beginning. If you are receiving chemotherapy several days in a row, you will probably only go to the lab before your first treatment.
Learning about your treatment
The nurse assigned to you will then get your orders printed, look at your lab results and send the orders to our pharmacy where your chemotherapy is mixed. The nurse will then go over all of your chemo medications with you and your family, so you will know what side effects to expect. You will also be given printed information to take home with you on the drugs, as well as general information on chemotherapy and what to expect with your specific chemotherapy treatment. After this we will have you sign a consent that you wish to proceed with your prescribed treatment.
Receiving your treatment
Most of the chemo drugs we give in our area are intravenous so you will have an IV started. If you have a port, that is how the nurses will access for blood tests and how you will receive your medicine. You will then receive what we refer to as “pre-meds” which are medications we give before the chemotherapy to prevent side effects. After you receive your pre-meds your chemo will be delivered from pharmacy, and we will then begin the actual chemo. Because different drug regimens require different amounts of time to infuse, you may not know how long your treatment will actually take until the nurse reviews your orders when you get to the chemo suite.
What to bring to your treatment
Our goal is to help you feel as comfortable as possible while you are here. Feel free to bring snacks or a lunch , or you may have a family member bring you lunch. Also, bring any routine medications or pain medication you may need while you are here. You may also want to bring a blanket or throw and a book or magazines to help pass the time.