Who is part of my care team?

Your care team is made up of your physician, Advance Practice Nurses (APNs), the nursing team, Medical Office Assistants, and Schedulers. You will be scheduled with your physician or an Advanced Practice Nurse prior to your chemotherapy each cycle. The nursing team is who you will communicate with during the week if you have questions and call the office during business hours. Each physician also has a dedicated Medical Records Technician who will ensure your providers have all the needed records prior to each of your appointments.

Illinois CancerCare also has a Social Services Coordinator, Clinical Counselor, and Registered Dietician available to all patients. Our staff is prepared to support you through your treatment and assist in making decisions that work best for you and your goals. We are here for you.

At your first visit, you will meet with your physician to go over your diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options. You will also have time to ask questions. We suggest bringing a family member or friend with you to support, help listen, and take notes. Write down and bring questions for your physician to the appointment. Your physician may order lab work to be drawn, as well as possible imaging such as CT scans or PET scans. Your physician may also order procedures, such as a biopsy, if necessary.

The length of visit will vary per patient and will depend on the treatment program. You will most likely need labs drawn each time you are here. You will be asked to arrive one hour prior to your appointment time to allow for the labs to be developed. Labs can be drawn the day before treatment if that is convenient for you. Then you would need to arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled provider visit. The length of time to plan will be discussed with you at your appointments.

Your treatment schedule, or “cycle”, depends on the type of cancer you have and what treatment regimen is ordered. While some regimens only require you to get treatment once per month, others may require daily or weekly treatments and office visits. This will be discussed with you prior to your first treatment appointment so you are prepared.

Here at Illinois CancerCare we work with our patients to optimize your health and to ensure you can continue with normal activities, such as working. However, if there comes a point when you’re not able to fulfill your duties at work we have a specialized team that will work with you and your employer to ensure proper documentation is filled out.

We encourage you to eat healthy and to have a high protein diet. Protein helps repair the body and promote new cell growth. There may be other dietary suggestions based on your individual chemotherapy treatment. We have a registered dietitian on staff that can work with you to develop an individualized dietary plan, free of charge.

Absolutely, we do not restrict your physical limitations, we encourage you to listen to your body. You may notice the need to group your activities together to allow for rest periods, but we encourage you to take care of your body with regular physical activity.

Here at Illinois Cancer Care our specialized team of providers work with you to optimize your quality of life. You may experience side effects depending on your treatment regimen, however, we have many options to help provide relief. Always share with your care team if you are experiencing any side effects. Each patient’s experience is different and there may be something we can do to help.

Hair loss depends on the type and dose of chemotherapy you are receiving. The reason hair loss happens is because chemotherapy cannot tell the difference between cancer cells and healthy cells; this results in healthy hair cells being affected by the chemotherapy, resulting in hair loss throughout the body. Hair grows back at a different pace for everyone, usually between 3-12 months. When your hair does grow, it may be a different color or texture than before. Your provider can tell you if you can expect hair loss once your treatment regimen is decided upon. Hair loss associated with chemotherapy is temporary and the hair WILL grow back. In the meantime, these tips may help cope with hair loss:

  • You may wish to cut your hair before it starts falling out. The experience of losing hair is sometimes worse than dealing with it once it’s gone. If you expect to lose all or a lot of your hair, cutting it first may be easier to cope with.
  • Plan ahead; shop for a wig before your hair is gone, especially if you wish to match your natural color. Or, take this opportunity to try something different.
  • Try hats or head scarves; these are good alternatives or a complement to a wig.
  • Remember to cover your head or use sunscreen on your scalp. Skin that has been covered with hair may be particularly sensitive to UV rays of the sun.
  • Ask your insurance company if they cover the cost of the wig.
  • Treat your new hair gently once it grows back. Avoid chemicals, bleach, peroxide, or colors.

At Illinois CancerCare we do our best to not only treat your cancer, but to optimize your quality of life. We will have these discussions on an individual basis, but we are able to lower the amount of medication you receive or switch your type of treatment should the need arise.