Preparing for Your First Radiation Treatment

alabama radiation treatment

Preparing for Your First Radiation Treatment

Preparing for your first radiation treatment can be incredibly nerve-racking. In addition to the shock of discovering your cancer diagnosis, beginning a cancer treatment can be challenging to wrap your mind around. 

At Alabama Cancer Care, we treat each patient like family. Our qualified doctors and our team of experts have walked many people through the treatment process, and we’re happy to answer your questions. 


How to Prepare for Your First Radiation Treatment


Your cancer treatment team can help you prepare for your individual needs, but you can take some simple steps on your own to help you feel more comfortable and secure when approaching your first appointment. Our health experts have outlined six steps to alleviate the stress and worry surrounding your first radiation treatment. 


1. Talk With Your Doctor

Begin the process with a thorough conversation with your doctor. This first step allows you to ask any questions and learn what to expect from your radiation treatment. It’s a good idea to bring a loved one to this appointment so that you can be sure not to forget anything.

Typical questions and concerns include fertility preservation, smoking habits, possible metal implants, and any fears or anxiety. This appointment is also a great time to ask your doctor about the possibility of side effects and what healthy coping mechanisms you should pursue.


2. Get Your Support System Involved

Transitioning from your usual routine to a full load of radiation treatment is difficult. You should plan for extra rest in case of fatigue or emotional exhaustion. Accepting help from your loved ones may feel humbling, but it is a wonderful way for you and your family to feel supported. 

Your support system can also help by running errands, picking up groceries, light housework, or babysitting. Allowing your children to carpool with your neighbors to school or letting your friends bring you pre-made meals can ease the burdens of your new everyday routine. Your friends will love an opportunity to help you. By taking some things off your plate, you, your friends, and family can be more present when you are home


3. Arrange Your Ride

At first, you may feel confident taking yourself to your appointments. However, as time goes on, you should try and find someone to drive you to your radiation treatment. Fatigue will likely increase as your treatment continues. 

Regardless, it’s often more comforting to have someone there with you. Patients can typically find a family member, friend, or volunteer to drive them to and from their appointments. Find a trusted loved one to arrange your transportation and speak with your doctor about the treatment center’s parking and travel assistance options. 


4. Prep a Cancer Treatment Bag

Many cancer patients have a special tote bag or backpack that they bring along to their appointments. These bags can provide both comfort and activities during your drive, wait time, and even during your radiation treatment session

You’ll want to pack some things to keep you warm and comfortable, such as a cozy sweater, blanket and pillow, and fuzzy socks. Besides clothing, consider items such as chapstick, body lotion, a stress ball, and snacks. Finally, bring items that will keep your mind occupied, such as your iPhone, headphones, reading materials, crossword puzzles, a deck of cards, or a notebook. Bringing this bag will help you alleviate your anxiety and keep you relaxed during your radiation. 


5. Keep a Journal


While your radiation therapy is essential, you will likely have significant side effects after your treatments. Keeping track of your daily habits, meals, and side effects will help you understand how your radiation treatment affects your mind and body. Additionally, journaling has been shown to improve mental health.

A simple journal entry not only helps you remember your side effects but also your emotions and concerns. It can also be a great place to write down any questions that may arise throughout your day. Writing these things down will help you relay them accurately to your doctor at your next appointment. 


6. Take Things One Day at a Time


When it comes to preparing for your radiation treatment, take it one day at a time. And if that’s too much, then just take it hour by hour or moment by moment! At Alabama Cancer Care, we know that it’s extremely difficult to cope with a cancer diagnosis. You need a moment to pause and process your new normal, what you need, and how you feel. 

Take things one day at a time by dealing with what you need for that day. Don’t worry about getting too ahead of yourself. Your doctors can recommend excellent tools that will help you stay organized and comfortable with your new routine.  


Alabama Cancer Care: Alabama’s Premier Radiation Treatment Centers

If you or a loved one needs radiation therapy, our team at Alabama Cancer Care is here to support you. Alabama Cancer Care is an oncology and hematology practice, offering understanding and skilled treatment for a wide range of illnesses. For more information, give us a call at the Alabama Cancer Care center nearest you.