What happens at pre chemo assessment and how to prepare
What happens at pre chemo appointments
Normally before each chemo session you will have a pre chemo assessment with a member of your oncology team. This is a meeting to see how you are, checking treatment check side effects, ask questions and sometimes discuss results.
This is what happens at my pre chemo assessments for breast cancer so I presume its similar for each hospital.
A few days before chemotherapy I need to attend clinic to meet with my consultant. Nearly every time I have met my consultant but due to sickness or holidays it could vary and I might have to meet another member of his team I hate this as I have built up a relationship with my oncologist and feel he knows me so I prefer to see him.
Before meeting I am weighed this is to see if I have gained or lost weight as treatment dosage might need to be changed if there is a big change. It will also highlight other concerns if I have dramatically lost weight. I have gone up and down a few kilos before but nothing major.
My oncologist will ask how I have got on with last chemotherapy and what side effects I have had. If there are any major side effects he might reduce dose or offer a medication or advise on how to deal with it.
On a few occasions he has examined me by feeling my breast lump or my lymph nodes but this was at early stages, this rarely happens now I am being treated for secondary breast cancer.
The pre chemotherapy appointment is a chance for me to ask any questions.
After my meeting I will have my bloods taken which they need as a final go ahead to give me chemotherapy this needs to be done within 96 hours of chemotherapy so if my appointment is too far in advance I will have to visit hospital or go for bloods.
I also used to have line care when I have a picc line which I needed weekly so at other times a district nurse would do the line care.
If I have had scans this is the meeting I will get the results. I am always anxious going to these pre chemo appointments but more so if I am getting scan results. If the news is bad and the scans show progression we will discuss the next stage. Twice this has happened and chemotherapy has been cancelled whilst more tests and a new treatment plan is put in place.
How to prepare for pre chemo assessment
Make a note of symptoms you have been experiencing
With chemo your mind is foggy, all days roll into one so I keep a note on my phone of symptoms I am experiencing and when.
My phone is normally by my side so just put down headache, felt sick, was sick then tally it up and you will see a pattern side effect might be a one off or it might be something that needs address. At the meeting oncologist will ask how you got on so your can discuss, and they might be able to recommend something to help.
If they don’t make any suggestions and you want something do ask I felt with my oncologist I had to be direct and say can I have some cream for these spots etc
Make a note of questions
Things might pop into your head when you are at home and I can guarantee when you sit in that consultation room your mind will be blank.
Again I made a note on my phone and worked my way through I also made notes of replies I was getting especially if oncologist was recommending something for example one day he gave me a list of foods that could help with my constipation so I wrote these down.
It will feel like you are forever having appointments so either get a diary or use your phone. As soon as a letter arrives with an appointment date I put it into my phone as I would put the letter down something would get put on top of it or it would be moved and then I would forget about the appointment.
Also if you dont have a date and you know you are due an appointment, contact the appointment centre as there were a few occasions I didnt get notification not sure if it wasn’t sent or got lost in the post but I had to contact them.
This especially happens after chemo and you’re having say 3 monthly check ups when one is due and you have not got a date ring them which is annoying for my booking team as its hard to get through on the phone.
Health Disclaimer : I am not a medical professional this post is based on my personal experience and is written as a guide. Always seeks professional advice from your medical team.