“As soon as I met the doctors I knew I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I absolutely love the doctors and the care.”
– Nan

Chemotherapy

Your medical oncologist (a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with drugs) will create a personalized treatment plan for you based on national guidelines and his or her expertise and experience. Many different chemo drugs are available and are designed to treat specific cancers. Not all chemotherapy is the same, nor is 1 chemotherapy used to treat all cancers. Depending on the drug(s) your doctor prescribes, you may receive your chemo through an IV (intravenous), a pill, injections or a combination. Chemo may be used alone or with other treatments such as radiation or surgery.

Chemotherapy, or chemo, is a type of drugs that kills fast growing and dividing cells in your body, typically cancerous cells. It is used to kill cancer cells, relieve pain associated with the tumor or to slow growth of the tumor and extend your life. Many advances have been made in chemotherapy drugs that result in better cure rates and fewer side effects. Some side effects are mild and manageable; others can cause serious complications. Your doctor will explain the risks and benefits of your specific chemotherapy. Sign up for My Healing Plan to learn more about the chemotherapy and the treatment plan your doctor has prescribed for you.

What to expect
If you are going to receive your chemo through an IV (intravenous or IV infusion), you may have a small surgery to put a port in so you won’t have to have an IV needle inserted into a vein every time you have a treatment. A port is a small metal disk about the size of a quarter that sits just under your skin. The port has a tiny tube that is inserted into a large vessel in your body to administer your chemotherapy and your supportive medications. Your port can be used to receive IV fluids, medications and also to draw your labs. Your healthcare team in the chemo infusion suite will discuss your port with you. The port will stay in until you finish treatments or until your doctor determines you no longer need the port, typically this occurs within six months to one year after the end of your treatment. Not all patients will receive a port and some patients may be encouraged to have a port placed in order to help maintain the quality of their veins.
When you arrive for chemo infusions, you will come to the chemo (or infusion) room. The room is designed to be warm and welcoming. We have comfortable recliners, blankets, snacks and drinks.
Chemo treatments can take as little as a few minutes and up to hours and can continue over the course of a few days. Most patients receive their treatments in 2-4 hours. If your treatment takes days, you will be taking a portable pump home with you. Your doctor and your healthcare team will educate you on the pump and help you to feel comfortable at all times.
Chemo is given in cycles of active drug treatment followed by a resting period to give healthy tissue time to recover. The resting period may last as long as 2-3 weeks. Once a cycle is completed, it may be repeated a number of times based on your specific diagnosis and national guidelines for treating your cancer.
You will get drugs and fluids to help prevent side effects. Side effects from chemo may include fatigue, hair loss, nausea and vomiting, suppressed immune system, and mouth or throat sores. Your healthcare team will discuss these side effects with you, so you know what is expected and what is more urgent. If you ever have any question or concern about what is normal, please call our office. We want to be your partner in this journey to help your healing.

“They make sure I’m doing well mentally as well as physically. It’s almost like a second family.”
– Ryan