If you have been told you need to receive chemotherapy to treat your cancer, knowing what to expect with chemo is an important first step in your treatment. Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers provides the most advanced chemotherapy treatments to thousands of patients every year throughout Colorado.
Continue reading below to learn more about what to expect during your chemotherapy treatment or jump directly to the section that interests you the most by clicking on one of the questions:
- What can I expect at my first chemotherapy treatment appointment?
- How should I prepare for my first chemotherapy appointment?
- What side effects can I expect after chemotherapy?
- What is unique about receiving chemotherapy at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers?
After the initial meeting with your Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers’ team to discuss your treatment plan and answer any questions you have, you will then be scheduled to attend a chemotherapy education class. The class will cover what you can expect when you come in for treatments, including how long you’ll be here, what will happen at each appointment, and what to do if you have questions or need help with side effects after hours.
At this class, you’ll also meet with one of our dedicated Patient Financial Counselors about treatment costs, pre-authorization, and insurance. Once your insurance company authorizes treatment, you’ll be contacted by office staff to schedule your first chemotherapy session.
Your care team will give you specific instructions at your chemotherapy education class about what to do leading up to your first treatment, but in most cases, preparation is minimal. You’ll be encouraged to drink plenty of water the day before a treatment, and it’s a good idea to eat a light meal prior to your appointment and to pack a snack to help with nausea. Have someone drive you to your first appointment or be available to pick you up if necessary, in case you are fatigued or nauseated afterward.
For dosing purposes, you will be weighed at the start of each appointment, and your vital signs will be checked to ensure it’s safe to administer the chemotherapy. Once your drugs are ready, your oncology nurse will insert an IV into your hand or arm or will connect an IV line to your port, if you had one previously implanted for treatment. Then, the drugs will be delivered through the line in a slow, continuous manner. While you receive treatment, you can relax in one of our spacious, light-filled treatment bays with reclining chairs, WiFi access, and beautiful views like the Arapahoe Glacier basin in Boulder , the Healing Garden in Lakewood , or Hale Park at our Rose location.
You can expect to be at the cancer center for several hours for each treatment, so you may want to bring something with you to read or watch. Water and snacks are permitted, and you can use the bathroom as needed throughout treatment. Visitors over the age of 16 are allowed, but you’ll want to ask how many people can accompany you at a time as some clinics have larger chemo treatment rooms than others.
After all your chemotherapy medication has been delivered, your oncology nurse will remove your IV and you’ll be free to go home. How you’ll feel immediately following chemotherapy will depend on the type of drug administered and your individual reaction. Some patients report feeling a little tired after treatment while others experience fatigue and nausea. Tell your care team if your symptoms are severe.
Plan to rest for at least the remainder of the day, as well as the day after your treatment. It’s common for chemo side effects to build with each treatment, so if you are scheduled for several treatments in a row, you’ll want to plan for adequate rest and assistance with tasks such as cooking and childcare as your treatments progress.
Your doctor will prescribe medication to help with the effects of chemotherapy, but there are also some steps you can take to reduce your symptoms, including maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in light physical activity when you feel up to it.
To help prevent chemotherapy-related hair loss, Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers offers the hair-preserving Paxman Scalp Cooling System . The system works by cooling the scalp, which causes blood vessels to constrict, reducing, blood flow. When that happens during chemotherapy, it means less of the chemotherapy drug reaches the hair follicles, which can make them less vulnerable to damage from chemo.
If you are a patient and are experiencing worsening symptoms from your treatment, such as those listed below, our medical professionals are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help. We can assess signs and symptoms, schedule you for an in-office, same or next day appointment and help you avoid a trip to the Urgent Care, ER or unplanned hospitalization. In the event of a life-threatening emergency always call 911. Call us if you are experiencing:
- Chills or fever greater than 100.4
- Burning with urination, frequency, urgency, lower back pain (UTI)
- Productive cough with green, yellow, red, brown sputum
- Unmanaged diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting
- Unmanaged pain
- Swelling, redness and pain on extremities
- Shortness of breath/chest pain
- Dizziness with changing position or lightheadedness
- Dark urine, less urine than normal, thirst, dry mouth (dehydration)
- Mouth sores, difficulty swallowing, frequent or sever heartburn
- Severe fatigue
Learn more about chemotherapy side effects and how to treat them.
As one of the largest community-based cancer treatment provider in Colorado, Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers specializes in treating patients with the most current technology and treatment practices that are supported by medical research. We care for patients who are diagnosed throughout Colorado in many different health systems and are referred to us for treatment. If you have been diagnosed or even started treatment at another facility, we can coordinate with your referring physician — whether your primary care physician or surgeon — to create a treatment plan for you and keep them in the loop every step of the way.
When you receive chemotherapy for cancer at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, you will be in the hands of a highly skilled medical oncology team that is headed by board-certified medical oncologists who have many years of experience. In addition, your team will include the most highly trained technicians, nurses, licensed oncology clinical social workers, and Patient Financial Counselors who specialize in dealing with chemotherapy patients.
For patients who have been prescribed oral chemotherapy, Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers’ in-house pharmacy makes getting your prescription filled easy and convenient. Receiving your oral chemotherapy at the point of care also allows our dedicated nurses and pharmacy team members to provide you with on-site education and answer any questions you might have.