Below are frequently asked questions by cancer patients and their families. This information is covered in our 20 page document entitled, “Frequently asked Questions by Patients and Their Families.”
Will I get sick?
Today, we have powerful medicines for nausea that work so well many people have no difficulties with nausea or vomiting. You will be given anti-nausea medicine before your chemotherapy treatment and you will be instructed for home use.
Will I lose my hair?
Hair loss depends on the type of chemotherapy you receive.If your treatment has the potential to cause hair loss the doctors and nurses will advise you of this. We can recommend various businesses in town that deal with wigs and their care.
What side effects will I have from my chemotherapy?
Each chemotherapy treatment has different side effects and you will be taught the main problems to watch for. Chemotherapy has changed over the years and many of the severe problems that it caused are now much more manageable. We will give you a calendar book and symptom management information to help you. The doctors and nurses will work with you to help make your chemotherapy experience the best one possible. We encourage you to call the staff with any concerns.
When should I call the doctor?
Anytime you feel ill or just have a question you are encouraged to call the office and speak with the nurses. They relay your concerns to either Dr. Matthews or Dr. Bettag. Our philosophy on patient care is to help someone with a concern while it is a small problem. It is easier for us to help you “sooner than later”, so we encourage you to call early. Examples of problems to call for are pain, fevers, chills, areas of redness or sites of swelling. Please call ahead if you feel the need to come to the office for care when not scheduled. This allows us to plan for your needs and facilitate your care. The nurses will usually ask to speak directly with the patient when you call with a problem. If you become ill when the office is closed, the nurses will show you how to reach your doctor when necessary. The after hours phone number (877) 470-7745, is on every appointment card.
Can I see the doctor if I am suddenly sick?
Yes. If you suddenly have a problem and are not feeling well, call the office first. The nurses will ask you questions and help arrange for a visit with either the doctor or the nurse practitioner. If you are urgently ill, you may be directed to the Emergency Room of your choice. Your care may be delayed if you come in without calling first.
What should I do if I have a fever?
If you feel that you have a fever, take your temperature. Patients on chemotherapy need to watch for signs of infection. Fevers are important clues for the doctor and nurses. Call the office and update the nursing staff on your symptoms. They will help advise you of what to do. If you develop a fever on the weekend or when the office is closed, call the after-hours phone number to speak with a physician for instructions or go to the emergency room.
Can I change my appointments or blood tests?
Chemotherapy is given on a schedule. The scheduled appointments and blood tests are important for monitoring your care. It is recommended that you stick to the dates you are scheduled for. Review your schedule when you get your treatment and ask for adjustments if needed. If you need to change or cancel appointments, please call the office and speak with the nurses.
Can I go to the dentist?
When you are on chemotherapy you can go to the dentist but it is important to coordinate the visit with your chemotherapy schedule. There may be certain days in your cycles that you should not have any invasive procedures done. Let the nurses know if and when you want to make an appointment with the dentist so they can confer with the doctor and guide your decision.
Can I go to a tanning booth or can I be out in the sun?
Patients need to be very careful about sun exposure while receiving chemotherapy. Chemotherapy makes your skin more sensitive to the sun and you can experience significant sunburns. Tanning booths are not allowed while on treatment.
Can I exercise?
Yes, but cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, cause fatigue. You need to exercise in moderation. A daily walk is a terrific form of exercise but you will need to listen to your body. It will tell you when you need to rest and when your energy level is good. You may need to prioritize your activities. Exercise is often helpful in reducing fatigue from treatment. Remember that moderation is the key.
Can I drink alcohol?
Talk to your doctor about having a cocktail. Most of the time alcohol is permitted if taken in moderation. Many patients note that their sense of taste can change when on treatment and alcohol may not appeal. Alcohol is NOT permitted on the days of treatment or for 24 hours after chemotherapy.
What should I do if my family or friends get sick?
Hand washing is the best way to protect yourself from infections and viruses. Call the office to speak with the chemotherapy nurses when family issues of illness arise.
May I go on vacation?
Yes. Discuss the exact dates with your doctor at your appointment. Trips and vacations are very important and we work hard to fit them into your chemotherapy schedule. If you need blood work while you are out of town, the nurses will assist you in making the arrangements.
Can my family call for information about me?
Families may call when they have concerns about a family member – but due to new privacy laws, patients must give written permission for us to discuss their care with family members. When you are seen at the office, the nurses will talk with you about gaining your written permission to discuss your health affairs with the people of your choice. To reach either Dr. Matthews or Dr. Bettag call (920) 458-7433. Our answering service is available after hours, or on the weekend at (877) 470-7745. The on-call physician will assist you.