Receiving a diagnosis of mesothelioma can be an overwhelming experience, and the thought of starting chemotherapy can add to the anxiety and stress. However, it is important to remember that chemotherapy is a critical part of your mesothelioma treatment plan. 

Knowing what to expect on your first day of chemotherapy can help you feel more prepared and in control. The information will help guide you through the process and provide helpful tips for managing the day with confidence.


Preparing for Mesothelioma Chemotherapy

Preparing for mesothelioma chemotherapy starts with meeting with your oncologist prior to your first day of treatment. Your oncologist will discuss the treatment plan with you in detail. This includes the type of chemotherapy drugs you’ll receive, the treatment schedule, potential side effects, and other relevant information. Be sure to ask any questions and express any concerns you may have during this consultation.


Day of Treatment

On your first day of treatment, you may be asked to arrive a couple of hours early for your chemotherapy infusion. Arriving early allows time to get your blood drawn prior to starting chemotherapy. This blood work will be analyzed by the medical team to make sure you are safe to receive the chemotherapy drugs.

During your chemotherapy treatment session, you will likely have access to TV, internet, a bed or recliner and warm blankets to keep you comfortable. The infusion facility will also provide you with drinks, snacks and meals as needed throughout your treatment procedure.


Medical Assessment

Once your blood work is available and reviewed, the medical team will call you back to the infusion room and conduct a series of assessments to ensure you are ready for treatment. They will check your vital signs, ask about any recent symptoms or changes in your health, and review your medical history. If any issues or concerns arise, they will be addressed promptly to ensure your safety throughout the treatment process.


IV Access

Chemotherapy is administered through an intravenous (IV) access in your hand, arm or previously implanted port. The IV line allows medications to flow directly into the bloodstream, ensuring the chemotherapy drugs reach the cancer cells effectively. The nurse will carefully start the infusion of medications while closely monitoring for any complications, side effects or pain.


Receiving Chemotherapy Drugs

Your chemotherapy infusion will take several hours. The duration will depend on the type and dose of the medications you receive. The nurses will receive your specific chemotherapy cocktail and any pretreatment medications from the pharmacy. 

Pretreatment medications may include steroids, anti-nausea medications, and anxiety-reducing medication. You may also receive IV fluids to help prevent or treat dehydration and help alleviate side effects from the chemotherapy drugs. 


Side Effects and Managing Discomfort

While your medical team will make every effort to keep you comfortable, it’s important to be aware of potential chemotherapy side effects. Nausea, fatigue and changes in appetite are common when receiving chemotherapy. Your oncology team will provide you with medications and strategies to manage these side effects effectively.


Emotional Support

The first day of chemotherapy can be emotionally and physically taxing, which means it is a good idea to have a family member, caregiver or friend with you when you receive your treatment. Having the support of your treatment team and family can make a significant difference. Don’t hesitate to share your feelings and fears with them. Additionally, consider joining a support group where you can connect with others going through similar experiences.


Stay Hydrated and Nourished

Chemotherapy can often lead to dehydration and affect your appetite. It’s essential to stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water or other recommended fluids. If your appetite is diminished, try to consume small, nutritious meals and snacks to provide your body with essential nutrients.


Rest and Recovery

After your chemotherapy session, you may feel weak and tired. It is important to allow your body time to rest and recover. Try to avoid overexertion, and give your body the time it needs to cope with the treatment’s effects.

Starting mesothelioma chemotherapy is a significant step in your cancer treatment journey. While it may feel overwhelming, being informed and prepared can help you face the process with greater confidence. Remember that you have your medical team and loved ones by your side to help and support you throughout the process. Keep a positive outlook, and take it one step at a time. Together, you can work towards better health and improved quality of life.

For more information about mesothelioma, treatment options or what to expect from your mesothelioma chemotherapy treatment, contact our registered nurse and patient advocate, Karen Ritter, RN BSN. Email for help.

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About the Writer, Karen Ritter

Karen Ritter, a registered nurse, is the lead patient advocate for Mesothelioma Guide. She has a deep passion for patient care, which includes helping patients and their families search for treatment options at the top mesothelioma cancer centers. She finds the balance between encouraging patients to receive the best treatment possible while enjoying their time with loved ones and friends. Karen is a valuable asset for patients due to her knowledge of mesothelioma, compassion for the victims of this disease and dedication to guiding patients through their treatment journey.