Starting chemotherapy

We will always have time to help and support you throughout your chemotherapy treatment.

Chemotherapy at Icon

Before starting chemotherapy, we understand that you may be feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Knowing what to expect can help you prepare for treatment and ease any stress you may be experiencing.

At Icon, we believe in a personal approach to chemotherapy that matches your needs. This means that not every treatment will look the same. However, there are parts of the chemotherapy process that many people may experience.

Watch the video below to learn more about your first day of chemotherapy at Icon from our care team and patients.

Your first visit

At your first appointment, you will meet with your medical oncologist or haematologist who will talk you through your diagnosis and treatment plan.

This will depend on your type of cancer, health and preferences.

You will then meet one of our experienced nurses to discuss possible treatment side effects and how to manage them.

Make sure to ask questions to help you gain a good understanding of your diagnosis and treatment. Our team will be here to address them anytime during your treatment.

Find out what types of questions you should ask your doctor.

We encourage you to bring a loved one to your appointment. They can be there for support and can also ask any questions you may not think of. It’s normal to feel some anxiety at this time, and we are here to help you and your family work through this.

Starting chemotherapy treatment

When it’s time to start your treatment, you may have a number of tests done, including:

  • Measuring your weight and height to find out the right dose of chemotherapy
  • A blood test to ensure your blood counts are at a satisfactory level
  • Measuring your blood pressure, pulse, breathing and temperature to make sure that you are ready for treatment

Our experienced team will seat you in one of our comfortable reclining chairs while you receive your treatment. In many cases, you will have an intravenous (IV) drip inserted into your vein to help you receive your chemotherapy treatment, or you may have a temporary small tube called a central venous access device (CVAD) inserted instead. This helps the chemotherapy travel into your body. Throughout your stay, you can move around, read a book, use the free Wi-Fi or do anything else that helps you feel comfortable.

Depending on your treatment, you might also be given anti-nausea medication that make you feel drowsy. If this happens it is important you have a family member, friend or carer take you home. If you need help with transport please speak to our administration team, who can arrange this on your behalf.

Chemotherapy is usually given in multiple courses (cycles) for a set amount of time, or for as long as the treatment is effective. Having the treatment in cycles allows time for the healthy cells in your body to recover between treatments.

What to bringWhat to bring

Having a few personal items can make you more comfortable during treatment. Here is a checklist of things you could bring with you:

Something to read - A favourite novel or light magazine can be a calming distraction.
Mobile phone and/or laptop/tablet - Free wireless internet is available throughout our centres to help you stay connected.
Warm clothing - Loose layers will help with access for treatment and let you take clothing off or put on depending on how you’re feeling.
Favourite food or snacks - We will have food and drink available, but you might want to bring your favourite snacks and drinks.
A family member or friend - All our treatment areas have room for your carer to come along for support and give you a ride home.

Some important essentials Some important essentials

Identity card or passport
Current medications including any creams, inhalers, patches or drops
Any medicines bought over-the-counter or at a supermarket
Any supplements or natural medicines you take

Frequently asked questionsFrequently asked questions

How does chemotherapy work?

Chemotherapy works by killing cells that are rapidly dividing, such as cancer cells. As well as killing cancer cells, chemotherapy also kills normal cells that are rapidly dividing. However, unlike cancer cells, normal cells can repair the damage and can recover.

Does it cause side effects?

Chemotherapy destroys cancer cells. However, some healthy cells are also damaged, and it is this damage that causes many of the more common side effects of chemotherapy. Side effects vary depending on the drugs used and the individual person. Most are temporary and can be treated or managed.

Will I lose or gain weight as a result of my treatment?

Each person responds differently to chemotherapy, and this also applies to weight. Some people may lose weight, while others may gain weight. Your cancer may also affect your weight. If you have any concerns about your weight during treatment, please raise them with your doctor.

Will I lose my hair as a result of my treatment?

Some people receiving chemotherapy will lose their hair, depending on the type of drugs you receive. Your doctor or nurse will be able to tell you whether your particular treatment will cause hair loss.

Am I able to take vitamins and complementary medicines?

Some vitamins and medicines can interfere with the effects of chemotherapy. Please provide your doctor with a list of the medicines you are currently taking, including over-the-counter medicines. If you start taking any new medicines during your treatment please let your doctor know.

Can I exercise during my treatment?

It’s recommended you do some light exercise, such as walking, to help manage fatigue and improve wellbeing. Studies have shown that exercising during your therapy is associated with an improved outcome.

Can I continue to work while I’m being treated?

Your ability to continue to work will depend on the nature of your work, your type of treatment and how well you feel during your treatment. Please discuss this with your doctor.

Are there certain activities I won’t be able to do during treatment?

There may be certain activities you won’t be able to participate in during your treatment. This will depend on the treatment you are having, your diagnosis and your blood counts at the time. If you are unsure about whether you should take part in a particular activity, please speak with your doctor or nurse.

Should I avoid people who are unwell while I’m being treated?

Chemotherapy can affect the production of blood cells in your body, including your white blood cells, which protect against infection. When your white blood cells are low, you are more at risk of developing a cold or infection. During this time, it’s important to avoid people who are unwell.


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