Monday, December 16, 2013


Disclaimer: These are my observations as a lay person. For a scientific explanation on chemotherapy, please consult an oncologist.

Chemotherapy is not radiation. The 2 are different and you shouldn't get confused by the movies.

Chemotherapy can be given as oral tablets, as an instant injection or through a slow drip.

The chemotherapy given as a drip is the most common and also the one that I have closely observed.

You check into the hospital with your prescription. When you check in, they begin preparing your chemotherapy drugs. Preparation has to be done in a sterile environment and the drugs must be used immediately and not stored.  This is why they will begin preparing your drugs only once you have checked in. It can take anywhere between 45 minutes to 2 hours for the lab to prepare the drugs that you need.

Dosage and types of drugs are different for each patient. There are more than 50 different types of chemotherapy drugs. So once you are checked in, the lab prepares the drugs for you in the exact concentration and dosage as has been prescribed by your doctor.

Once the chemotherapy drugs are ready, they are administered to you via a drip. You can spend anywhere between 5 - 8 hours in the hospital while you are on the drip. You can lie down or sit up. You can read, eat, watch TV or sleep. You can even ask the nurse to disconnect your drip if you need to take a bathroom break.

You will most likely feel nothing. Side effects only kick in over the next few days.

Depending on the dosage prescribed to you, you may need one or more drips. When they have finished giving you all your chemotherapy drips, they will give you a final saline drip.

Once they have finished giving you the saline drip, you can leave the hospital. Your chemotherapy session is over. Each session is called a "cycle". The frequency of your chemotherapy cycles are decided by your doctor.

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