THE ADVOCATE 401
VOL. 77 PART 3 MAY 2019
No one should go to this meeting on their own. And the person accompanying
the patient should take a pen and pad of paper and record as much
as they can of what the doctor says. Taking a tape recorder isn’t a bad idea—
there will be a lot of information. It will all seem a blur to the patient when
they walk out the door, but once the fog lifts, they will probably want to
know everything the oncologist said. Recording what took place is vital.
How You Can Help with Chemo
Most patients who receive chemo do so by intravenous injection, but some
take pills. Intravenous chemo is almost always received at the cancer clinic in
a big room with other patients present. Sometimes this takes one or two hours,
but sometimes it can take up to eight. Some patients receive chemo once a
week, others less frequently. The number of chemo treatments varies from
patient to patient, as do the types of side effects and their severity.
Going to the first treatment is scary. The fact is that your friend is going
into uncharted territory in which they never expected to find themselves.
For most people it helps to have someone familiar, positive and upbeat
After the first treatment, the day before scheduled chemo or the morning
of chemo, your friend must have a blood test to make sure they can tolerate
chemo. The doctor must be sure that their white blood count has recovered
sufficiently from the last chemo in order to take the next one. This is very
stressful and can be a strangely conflicted time for a patient. Because it is
unpleasant, there may be some irrational sense of hope of not requiring
chemo. But at the same time, the diagnosee really does want to be able to take
every treatment on schedule so that they can get the whole thing over with.
If you want to be a support, it really helps to know when the patient will
be going for the blood test. If it turns out that your friend cannot have the
treatment, there is tremendous disappointment that things are delayed.
Being available to go for coffee, being a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on,
or just a source of distraction, is really valuable.
If chemo is going ahead, company in the chemo room is often really
appreciated. Waiting can be boring. Offering to come along with playing
cards, or with lunch or just to talk may be very welcome. If you suspect your
friend is declining your offer to accompany them because they feel badly
about taking up your time, drop by the chemo room to say hi about a half
hour after the time for chemo is scheduled to start, and see how they feel
then. If they seem uncomfortable to see you, just stay for a minute or two
to say hello, and leave.
However, your friend might be really glad to see you. Perhaps they just
felt too proud or uncomfortable to accept your offer (and, after all, most of
us in the legal profession are an especially proud lot!). One of the most