Preparing for Treatment

Once diagnosed with cancer, a whirlwind feeling of being overwhelmed is not uncommon, as well as emotions of grief and loss.  However, with so very much that needs to be done, there is seldom time to work through the emotional turmoil.  Once diagnosed, we find everything moves very quickly.  Actually, that’s a good thing.  It doesn’t give us a lot of time to engage in negative thought and activity.


For a more rapid and comfortable recovery, a number of us have found advance planning dramatically helps to alleviate later anxiety and worry over what hasn’t been done or what needs to be done, especially during recovery or during treatment.  Not having these nagging concerns allows us to fully focus and concentrate on ourselves, in order to recover much more easily and to fully participate in treatment to annihilate the cancer.


Every one of us sees things through different eyes and the view in which we choose to see life and what occurs in life is often how we choose life to be, within our own realities.  In example, if we view ourselves as alone and lonely, then we ARE alone and lonely and life isn’t very happy or comfortable.


However, if we view being alone as our choice to indulge in peace and solitude, it then becomes a very comfortable and pleasant experience. Reality is subjective and the manner in which it exists is dependent upon how we view it to be and react to circumstances which may affect us.


Some people cherish antiques and view them as rich, heritage items.  Others view them as used furniture.  Some view spectator sports as a waste of time and others consider it to be pure pleasure.  Some people view obstacles as “problems” and others view them as opportunities, making it easier to find a solution.


Cancer is definitely an obstacle and a challenge.  It isn’t for the weak of heart.  It confronts us with a bold defiance in its desire to overpower and to conquer.  How we choose to view it as well as view ourselves, is a very strong factor in how we choose whether or not to survive.


The same holds true of healing. The way we view ourselves and our health ailment is an important part of how we heal.   When ill and while trying to recover, it is self defeating to over burden ourselves by allowing ourselves to be concerned over whether or not the house needs paint or the carpets need cleaning or the lawn needs mowing, especially if there is very little we are physically able to do about the situation.


That time could better be spent resting and revitalizing our strength following chemotherapy or spent engaging in visual imagery to obliterate the tumors or even spent reflecting upon the lives of our ancestors–considering what they endured and how they overcame almost impossible odds against them in a time when life was very difficult…and drawing from their strength.


It could be spent listening to music and allowing our bodies to heal, or catching up on reading that one book that caught our eye, or going through photo scrapbooks and thinking and sharing those important moments with those we love and those who love us.  When we are ill, if at all possible, apart from medical treatment, our activities should be those for which we hold a passion, not those to which we are obligated.  Positive activities and thoughts promote happiness. Happier people heal faster.


Finally, advance planning and removing potential problems and obstacles from our lives provides resolution and balance, allows us to relax and to listen to our bodies, thus giving us the psychological and physical strength required to fight cancer.

Below is a quick check list of things we felt may be helpful to complete prior to surgery and treatment.  Think about them, consider them, delete some, add others…allow yourself to be fully prepared for concentrating solely upon RECOVERY!  Therefore:

  • Spend a short period of time digesting the diagnosis and grieving–its normal, natural and necessary

  • Stand up and take action.  Its empowering and strengthening.

  • Meet with your family and discuss the cancer and impending surgery.

  • Meet with the surgeon. Its your body and its your life.  Ask him anything and everything you wish!

  • Submit to  laboratory tests and collect your own blood if desired for surgery

  • Prepare legal documents including will and final directives (should always be done prior to ANY  hospitalization)

  • Conduct a “spring cleaning” of home since surgery and chemotherapy may last six to eight months – wash those curtains, bedspreads, get the carpets cleaned and get the house smelling fresh, clean and welcoming for when you arrive home from surgery.

  • Perform necessary home maintenance to last until recovery and treatment is completed

  • Arrange for housekeeping

  • Stock home with food provisions

  • Arrange for home grocery delivery

  • Arrange for yard and garden service

  • Arrange for transportation to follow-up medical appointments and treatment.

  • Prepare room to be warm and comfortable for recovery.

Nothing makes healing more comfortable than a well prepared room. Items you may wish to consider:

  1. MP3 player or radio for music – music is soothing and healing.

  2. Television with remote features.

  3. Laptop with wireless capability.

  4. Lots of comfortable pillows.

  5. Telephone with intercom capability or mobile radios to summon assistance (so much easier than calling out for assistance and much less labor intensive for those who care for us.)

  6. Microwave

  7. Small refrigerator

  8. Corner shower seat (invaluable and wonderful for long, relaxing showers)

  9. Rugs on tiled floor (to alleviate from cold if neuropathy occurs)

  10. Night shirts (more comfortable to wear than pajamas or nightgowns)

  11. Reading material and glasses

  12. A good moisturizer hands, feet and dry body

  13. Baby powder to alleviate irritation from linens.

  14. Bed away from draft of window, but providing view of outdoors and sunshine

  15. Beautiful, indoor, flowering plant

  16. Warm slippers

  17. Warm Robe

  18. Bed pads to protect linens

  19. Night lights to allow vision when getting up at night.

  20. Ice Pack and Hot Pad…ice pack to reduce inflammation, hot pad to relax muscle contraction.


The final steps are to visit the anesthesiologist and, finally, prepare the day before surgery for the next morning.


Prior to surgery, it is important to stay clear of children and individuals who have been exposed to colds and viruses.  With cancer, our immune systems are compromised and we have to be in the best condition possible, both emotionally and physically, at the time of surgery.  A simple cold or virus affects us in the same manner it affects the elderly…and can quickly become a life threatening malady by developing into more severe complications such as pneumonia.


You may wish to dine at outdoor restaurants and watch DVDs rather than going to movie theaters and avoid crowded places before surgeries and while undergoing chemotherapy.


When entering areas with sick children and persons (labs, radiology clinics, hospital waiting rooms) its best to wear a mask.  You may wish to keep one on you, when entering medical or other crowded areas, in order to protect yourself.