New Chemotherapy Orientation Class Offers Peace of Mind
When people hear that phrase, they associate it with positive milestones in life, such as heading off to college or starting a new job. But for patients with a cancer diagnosis, getting oriented to their upcoming treatment meets only the dictionary definition of the phrase: “To acquaint with the existing situation or environment.”
Understanding a life-altering diagnosis is made easier for patients of the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in clinical affiliation with South Shore Hospital. The Center offers an orientation class for patients undergoing chemotherapy, designed to complement the orientation with a physician and chairside infusion nurses. It is the first class of its kind in Massachusetts.
"When patients are initially diagnosed, absorbing the details of that alone can be overwhelming," said Meredith Faggan, MD, Medical Director of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in clinical affiliation with South Shore Hospital. "Putting some time and distance from initial diagnosis and the barrage of information that usually follows seems to be the best way to help prepare patients for chemotherapy with more clarity—making it easier for them to digest and absorb information relevant to this course of treatment."
The Chemotherapy Orientation Class is a pilot program created by a group of experienced oncology nurses at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center in clinical affiliation with South Shore Hospital to educate patients on what to expect during treatment. John Doney, a seasoned nurse practitioner at the Center, helped to develop the curriculum and leads the orientations.
“This class gives patients the ability to talk about the treatment. But most importantly, it shows them and their families that they’re not in their fight against cancer alone. Patients have a big team on their side here—from nutrition to nurses to the folks checking them in at the front desk. This is a great opportunity to meet them all,” John said.
Patients who are scheduled to receive their first chemotherapy treatment are invited to attend with an accompanying family member or friend.
Patients and their guests will get the facts on chemotherapy from our professionals, learning everything from how the treatment works to the many ways in which it can be administered. Participants will also learn the side-effects of chemotherapy and the best ways to manage them. The class wraps up with a discussion of how patients can plan for their treatment and an open question and answer period.
“The goal is not to overwhelm. We try to keep things general,” said John. “It’s another way to slowly take in the information, process what’s going on and give patients a renewed sense of control after their diagnosis.”
“Sometimes we see patients who’ve already started their treatment enroll in the class to learn more about how to manage their treatment as well as what to expect as they continue to receive care,” said Dr. Faggan.
Chemotherapy is difficult. But patients of the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in clinical affiliation with South Shore Hospital don’t have to go in unprepared for the journey ahead.