What is chemotherapy?
In general, chemotherapy is medicine that attacks dividing cells. Cancer cells usually grow more rapidly than our body’s normal cells, so chemotherapies usually kill cancer cells while hoping to preserve our own normal cells. There are many different types of chemotherapy that have unique side effects. Most chemotherapy is IV, although there are some chemotherapies that we give as shots or pills instead. We have an infusion suite at our office to give these medicines.
Will chemotherapy make me sick?
Nausea and vomiting is something that many people associate with chemotherapy. Not all chemotherapy drugs will cause nausea or vomiting, but if yours does we will work closely with you to manage this. There are many medications available to relieve nausea caused by chemotherapy. We are aggressive in our management of nausea and vomiting and will help find an individualized regimen that works best for you.
Do I need to follow a special diet or eliminate any activities?
Each situation is unique, but many patients do not have any restrictions while receiving chemotherapy. Your level of activity will be based on how you feel and patients are encouraged to stay active. There are usually no dietary modifications needed. Your provider will discuss any specific restrictions with your based on your individualized plan of care.
I’ve heard chemotherapy is expensive. Will I be able to afford it?
Chemotherapy can be expensive, but we will work with you to minimize your out of pocket. We have a full-time Patient Financial Advocate who will work with you and your insurance to significantly reduce the out of pocket responsibility for many patients to help improve the financial stress that can often accompany a diagnosis of cancer. There are many foundations available to help minimize the financial strain of chemotherapy and she will help determine the best assistance network for you. After this process is complete, we will let you know your remaining responsibility prior to your first treatment. By utilizing all available resources, we are able to significantly reduce the out of pocket responsibility for many patients.
What can I expect on treatment day?
On the first day of treatment you may want to have a loved one with you for support. Your actual treatment (chemotherapy) is administered in a special room that is different from the regular exam room. For your first treatment you are usually able to have a loved one sit with you. Our goal is to make you as comfortable as possible so feel free to bring a personal blanket, a book or electronic device with headphones. There are televisions and magazines in the treatment room, wifi is available and we have blankets available too. Depending on the type of treatment you receive you may be here for as little as one hour or up to 8 hours. Refreshments and beverages are available but you may also bring a refreshment of your choice. It’s great if a loved one can drive you on your first treatment as some of the medications may make you drowsy. However, after the first treatment you may have a better idea if you could safely drive yourself or not. This depends on your individual need and comfort level.
Can family come with me?
Family is more than welcome to come with you to your MD/NP appointment at any time and when you receive your first chemotherapy treatment. However, after the first chemotherapy treatment, family may wait in the waiting room or leave the clinic and come back at a designated time. Our nurses are happy to give you an approximate finish time for your treatment. Our goal is to keep our patients comfortable and safe. In order to do so, we must limit the amount of persons who can be in the room so that our nurses and staff can effectively meet your needs.
Can I go out or be around family and friends?
Most of the time it is safe to be around family and friends. There are some times when you may be at an increased risk of getting an infection. However, we will be monitoring your lab values and symptoms closely and would let you know should you need to avoid family and friends. The most important thing you can do is practice good handwashing. Also, if your family and friends know they are sick, it is ok to ask them to refrain from visiting you until they are better.
Who or what number do I call if I have questions or don’t feel well?
Someone in our office is available to meet your needs 24 hours a day 365 days a year. If you call (205) 502-4700 during regular office hours between 8-5 one of our staff members will direct you to the appropriate person to meet your needs. If you are a patient you will most likely be directed to our triage nurses line where you may have to leave a message. Your call will be promptly returned. If it is after hours, one of our MDs or NPs is available to assist you. Simply call our after-hours answering service at (205) 930-4254 and your call will be returned. If you have questions or concerns that aren’t necessarily urgent, our staff is also available by email and through the patient portal on our website. In case of absolute emergency be sure to call 911 first.
Where can I get my prescriptions filled?
HOAA has our own pharmacy, HOAA Pharmacy
, located in suite 65 of the lower level of the Brookwood Medical Plaza, medication can be picked up in person or shipped directly with one of our couriers. Please call today to start your service or to enroll in our portal.