Your First Treatment
Getting to Our Treatment Center
If you are getting chemotherapy on an outpatient basis, try to bring someone with you to your first appointment — both for moral support and to help you absorb all of the information you will receive. Many people feel anxious the first time, and having a support person helps.
It's also a good idea to have a light meal before treatment. Drinking plenty of water is important for all types of cancer treatments, including chemotherapy. You won't have to change into a gown during chemotherapy but it is a good idea to wear a loose shirt or top with sleeves that can easily be rolled up.
A nurse will talk with you about your first treatment, including what side effects may occur and how to deal with them. The nurses at the Swedish Cancer Institute's outpatient Medical Treatment Centers, as well as the SCI inpatient units, are all specially trained and certified in administering chemotherapy. Before your treatment begins, you may be given anti-nausea medications or other medications to help prevent or lessen side effects.
The time you spend at the center for each treatment depends on the type of medications you receive. Treatments can range from one to 12 hours. Keep in mind that in addition to the time needed to administer chemotherapy, extra time is also needed to prepare the chemotherapy medications, administer pre-treatment medications and get the treatment started. Your first treatment will give you a good idea of how long future treatments will take.In the outpatient Medical Treatment Centers, you will typically receive treatment in a comfortable chair in a private or semiprivate room. Many people bring books to read, videos to watch or letters to write during treatment. Movies, snacks and drinks are available at the centers.
During treatment, there is usually no discomfort. Some people feel a little sleepy as a result of anti-nausea medications. While receiving treatment, tell the nurse immediately if you feel anything of concern or have any questions.