What Should You Do Before Beginning Chemotherapy?

If you've recently been diagnosed with cancer and are scheduled for chemotherapy or radiation within the next few weeks, you may be nervous and apprehensive about what to expect. While today's chemo drugs are much more targeted than previous ones, these treatments can still take a tremendous toll on your body, and it's important to begin these treatments in the best physical shape you can be.

Read on to learn more about a few things you may want to cross off your to-do list before starting chemo to increase your odds of successful treatment:

Visit the dentist

If at all possible, you may want to have your dentist squeeze you in for a last-minute checkup and cleaning before you begin the chemo treatment. Chemo can cause your salivary glands to stop producing as much saliva, which can increase the amount of potentially harmful bacteria in your mouth at any given time.

Chemo may also weaken the delicate blood vessels in your gums, causing them to bleed when you brush or floss vigorously. By having your teeth cleaned before your treatments begin, you'll be able to reduce the bacterial load in your mouth and avoid having this cleaning irritate your teeth when they're sensitive from chemo.

Think about your fertility

If you haven't yet had children, or if you still want to add to your family, talk to your oncologist about how these chemo treatments may potentially affect your fertility. If you'd like to freeze your eggs or sperm, you may be able to put your treatments off for a few weeks without greater risk to ensure that you'll be able to set aside healthy reproductive material. At a later date, you may be able to conceive a child following in-vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination with your partner's healthy egg or sperm.

Get your work affairs in order

Even if you're planning to work at least part-time through your treatments, you'll want a backup plan in place so that your employer isn't left in the lurch if you find yourself unable to come to work while your treatments leave you feeling your worst.

You'll also want to ensure that you fill out the necessary paperwork with your employer and your oncologist for your time off to qualify for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if you work for a covered employer. This will ensure that your job is protected for months until you return.

Contact a company such as Sturdy Memorial Hospital with any questions or concerns you have.