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How to Prepare for Treatment


Straight Talk about Mesothelioma, a blog series created by Michael T. Milano, M.D., Ph.D., a radiation oncology specialist, as a resource for mesothelioma patients and their loved ones.

While it can be reassuring to know that you and your care team have designed a solid course of treatment for your mesothelioma, the days leading up to the first treatments can be a little unsettling. Fortunately, there are steps you can take, both practical and holistic, that will ease any anxiety you may be feeling, and will help ensure that your treatments will be as effective as possible.

Eat a Nutritious Diet

This is important for everyone, of course, and especially so for cancer patients. Eating a healthy diet well in advance of treatment is one thing you can proactively due to help retain your strength and help your body ward off infection. There is even some evidence that some cancer treatments are more effective in patients who are well nourished, with sufficient calories and protein in their diet.

Plan Ahead for Your Needs Once Treatment Begins

Once treatment begins, all of your attention and energy should be on resting and doing whatever your doctors recommend to promote your healing. To that end, ask for assistance from family and friends to fill your pantry with non-perishable foods such as peanut butter, tuna fish, and nuts. Fill the freezer with prepared foods such as lasagnas and casseroles. You may not have much of an appetite at first, but as your body adjusts to the treatments your appetite should return. Your specialist is likely to have a dietitian or nutritionist as part of his or her medical team who can suggest a grocery shopping list and can recommend healthy meals and supplements to counteract some of the treatment side effects, which can include nausea and constipation.

Pack a Bag for the Hospital Stay

Some treatments can be done on an outpatient basis, while others will require you to stay in the hospital overnight or longer. Pack a small suitcase or duffel that includes items that will bring you comfort, such as slippers or warm socks, a favorite pillow, comfortable bedtime clothing, personal toiletries including toothbrush and toothpaste, a hair brush, and any cosmetics. Don’t forget music, books, books on tape, and reading glasses.

Gather all Your Medical Documents

You will find that you’ll be asked time and time again to present all forms of identification and medical documents. It helps to keep all your important documents in one folder that you can bring with you to all your appointments. That folder should include: insurance card, photo I.D., copies of all medical reports showing prior treatments, tests, and results, a list of all current and former medications, and the phone numbers of closest relatives, friends, and physicians.

Once you’ve done all of this, the most important thing you can do to prepare for your treatment is to relax, and take comfort knowing that you are in good hands with your
medical team.

Next article in this series: “How Mesothelioma Treatment May Affect Quality of Life”

Dr. Milano is a sponsored contributor to Mesothelioma Help Now.