Chemotherapy at Chris O'Brien Lifehouse

Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. In combination chemotherapy a number of drugs may be given at the same time. Sometimes only one drug is used. Chemotherapy may be used before or after surgery or radiation therapy, or together with radiation therapy.

Day Therapy is located on Level 1. A wide range of treatments for cancer are given depending on the type of cancer, what stage that cancer is at and the individual person’s health in general. If you have any questions about chemotherapy, our day therapy receptionists will be able to help or you can pick up a day therapy pack.

Checking in to day therapy

Before you sit down in the day therapy waiting room, make sure you check in at reception first. When your treatment is ready a nurse will call your name or ring you on your mobile (if you have left your number).

What treatments are given in day therapy?

A wide range of treatments are given depending on the type of cancer, what stage it is at and your health in general. There are many types of cancer and many types of treatment. Treatment for cancer is no longer just “chemotherapy”, but can also include targeted therapy, immunotherapy or hormonal therapy. You may also come to day therapy for blood transfusions, blood products and other therapies to support you through side effects.

How is it given?

Some treatments are as short as one quick injection under the skin, other treatments use a “drip” through a vein or an implanted access device.. These “drips” may  consist of drugs to prevent nausea, drugs to prevent some side effects, and may be  between one to four chemotherapy drugs, depending on the “protocol” or order,  of that treatment.

How long will it take?

Treatment can take any where from half an hour to up to eight hours. Some treatments continue overnight in hospital or over a number of days, and some treatments are delivered through a take home pump.

Checking for your safety

There are many many factors which can influence the timeliness of the delivery of your treatment. We recommend that you don’t make any other appointments on your treatment day outside Lifehouse. It’s fine to make appointments with your doctors at Lifehouse or with the integrative medicine team.

Blood tests

You need to have your blood tested before every treatment. The results are checked and used to make treatment decisions. This takes care and time. It’s recommended that you have your blood tested the day before treatment. If you are travelling to Lifehouse from a distance, a day therapy nurse can give you a pathology request form that you can use closer to home.

Can I drive or take public transport?

Many people bring themselves to and from treatment, however it is recommended that you always have a backup plan and that on your first visit you bring someone with you for support. Day therapy nurses know this and are there to support you on your first day whether someone comes with you or not. There is parking underneath the building.

Preparing for day therapy treatment

Have a good night’s sleep. Turn off all screens an hour before bed and have a warm milk and honey or a herbal tea. Read, listen to relaxing music and know that you are in one of the best treatment centres in the world.

Start drinking fluids such as water, diluted fruit juice or cordial. This helps to plump up the veins and protect the kidneys which filter the therapies out of the body when finished. It is recommended that all people having day therapy drink  2 – 3 litres of fluid on the day of treatment, and for two days after to flush out the treatment, unless your doctor has told you something different.

Eat normally before treatment. Have breakfast and take your regular medication including any pre-medication  prescribed by your Medical Oncologist.

During Therapy

You may bring your own food with you, buy something at the Lifehouse Café or one of our volunteers will stop by your treatment chair with a selection of sandwiches. A volunteer will also provide you with a Sony entertainment tablet which has TV, radio and Wifi on it. We can draw the blinds, dim the lights, recline the lounge chair and give you a warm blanket so if you prefer to have a restful sleep, you can.

After treatment  in day therapy.

The pharmacist may give you some anti-nausea pills. If you are feeling sick, take your pill. You may prefer to have something light, like soup, for dinner. If you continue to feel sick, take the pills prescribed to you over the next few days. If they don’t relieve your nausea, if you feel unwell or if you can’t drink, call the day therapy nurse on 8514 0021 8:30am – 5:30pm, Monday to Friday.

When to come to hospital

  • If you have a temperature of  38° C or over,
  • You can’t drink fluids because of nausea or vomiting
  • You are losing too much fluid from diarrhoea
  • OR if you are receiving Immunotherapy treatment and have
    • Sudden extreme tiredness
    • Two episodes of diarrhoea
  • Or any of the above

Call the day therapy nurse (02) 8514 0021 Monday – Friday 8:30am – 5:30pm

After hours go immediately to your nearest emergency department.

Call the on-call oncology registrar (02) 8514 0000

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