Frequently Asked Questions
How often will I see the doctor?
You will meet with an oncologist during your first visit. He will review your diagnosis with you and talk with you about a treatment plan. Your number of doctor visits will depend on your individualized treatment plan. There is no set number of visits for everyone.
Will I see the same doctor each time I visit?
You will see both of the medical oncologists throughout your treatment. You may also meet with the radiation oncologist if your treatment includes radiation. Not every appointment requires meeting with the doctor.
How long will my chemotherapy treatment take?
Each person and each cancer is different. There are multiple chemo agents for treating different cancers. Some chemo drugs do not take long to infuse while others may take close to eight hours because of the combination given. Some chemo treatments are given daily, some weekly, some monthly and other chemo drugs are in the form of an oral pill.
If I need chemotherapy, will I get a port? Where and when does that happen?
ALMOST everyone in Sarah Bush Lincoln’s Regional Cancer Center who receives chemotherapy also has a port placed. Most ports are placed in the chest, which is preferable. Ports are placed just prior to the start of treatment.
Does everyone who has chemo also have radiation therapy?
Not necessarily. It really depends on the type of cancer. Additionally, some people may just have radiation therapy, but not chemotherapy.
What can I bring with me?
Many people bring books, electronics, personal earphones and small craft projects like knitting, crocheting or cross-stitching projects. You have your own dedicated space equipped with a television, electric outlets and comfortable chairs. You may sleep if you like. The Regional Cancer Center has free Wi-Fi for your use.
Can I have a tour of the Regional Cancer Center?
Yes. We welcome new patients to tour the center in an effort to feel more comfortable when treatments being.
If I am receiving treatment over lunch, do I bring my own food?
You are welcome to bring your own nourishments, but your lunch is provided by Food & Nutrition Services per your personal requests. The Regional Cancer Center has hard candies available for your use, which helps curb dry mouth, as well as vending machines for you or your guest's use.
Can I talk with other patients during treatment?
Most definitely! You can choose which area you wish to sit. Some people like to sit in small groups to talk with others, while other patients enjoy their time alone.
Can I have visitors during my treatments?
Yes. After the nurse begins your treatment, you are welcome to have visitors. Some people make a visitor schedule so people come at various times throughout your treatment.
Will I have a PET scan?
Depending on your type of cancer and the stage of cancer, your doctor MAY order a PET scan. A PET scan is a non-invasive diagnostic imaging tool used to determine if cancer is in other places in the body. You may have additional PET scans following treatment. Keep in mind that a PET scan is not a helpful staging tool for ALL cancers. Your doctor may choose a different type of test for you (i.e. blood work for leukemia) depending on your diagnosis and stage.
Can I request a pastor visit?
Yes. You can ask your pastor to visit you, or you may ask one of our volunteer pastors to visit with you.
Can I skip a treatment?
If you skip a radiation treatment, that treatment will be added on to your treatment schedule. You MUST complete all of your radiation treatments for the radiation to have the best chance of eradicating your cancer. Think of radiation like taking antibiotics. You must take all of your antibiotics in order to kill your infection, or the infection can come back and may be even worse. Radiation works like that. If your side effects from radiation are severe enough, our radiation oncologist will hold your treatments until you can tolerate them again. In the end, you must reach the fully prescribed radiation dose for the best results.
If you skip a chemo treatment, the doctor will determine what you need to do in order to make up that dose. Some cancers require chemo and radiation to be given concurrently. There are chemo drugs that are radiosensitizers. This means the chemo makes the radiation more effective on killing the cancer cells. Our medical oncologists and radiation oncologist work very closely to ensure you are given a full course of treatment even if you need to skip or delay your some treatments.
Will chemo or radiation make me really sick?
Each person reacts to chemo and radiation in their own way. Your doctors cannot determine how sick you will feel after having chemo until you are given your first course. For example, two patients are getting the same chemo drug and the same dose. One patient feels great, while the other patient has severe nausea and vomiting. The medical oncologists can adjust your treatment based upon how your body handled your first treatment. The doctor can change your regimen to make your next treatment more or less aggressive. Together, you and your doctor will be a team in the fight against your cancer. The doctors can prescribe medications to help you deal with your side effects.
Radiation affects just the area it is treating. If you are getting radiation to your abdomen, that can cause you to have nausea and not feel well. However, if you are getting radiation for skin cancer, you will typically have a skin reaction and nothing else. Again, the radiation oncologist and radiation therapists will be able to determine ways to manage your side effects of radiation.
Will chemo or radiation make my hair fall out?
Hair loss is a side effect of certain chemo drugs. Not all chemo agents make your hair fall out. Radiation is site specific in the body, meaning it only affects the area that is being treated. If you are receiving radiation to the scalp or face, you will lose your hair, beard, mustache, etc. There are resources available for wigs, turbans and scarves for those that are interested in these products.
Can I drive to my appointments or do I need someone to drive me?
It is always a good idea to have someone with you when you see the doctor. It is also good to have a driver for your first chemo treatment. Sometimes the pre-meds that are given can cause drowsiness and dizziness. Until you know how your body will react to the drugs you are given, it is a good idea to have someone there to drive you home.
Some radiation treatments require a mask to be made which covers the head and face. If you are claustrophobic, you may require some calming mediation. In these cases, you must have a driver in order to leave the facility.
Also, your oncologist may tell you not to drive if you have a cancer that affects your brain or cognitive skills.
Can I leave my treatment area and can I go out in the Healing Garden?
You may leave your treatment area to use the restroom. Your chemotherapy is provided through an IV and to move, the IV pole will need to be moved as well. Unfortunately, you cannot go into the Healing Garden during your treatment. At all times, the nurses need to be able to see you to monitor you for reactions to medications.
How much will my treatment cost?
Treatment costs vary between patients and their treatments. Sarah Bush Lincoln accepts most insurance plans, and it also provides financial assistance for those without sufficient means. The staff can help you connect with Patient Financial Services, which is happy to help you navigate the financial side of your care. Sarah Bush Lincoln never turns anyone away for care for an inability to pay.