Oncology and Hematology - Louisville VA Medical Center
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Louisville VA Medical Center

 

Oncology and Hematology

Patient checking in

Questions and Answers

  1. What are Oncology and Hematology?
  2. Does everyone with cancer need chemotherapy and radiation?
  3. Where is radiation performed for the veterans?
  4. What is chemotherapy?
  5. Where is chemotherapy given to veterans?
  6. How is my cancer watched/monitored?
  7. Nutition and chemotherapy
  8. Can I take my regular medications before chemotherapy treatment?
  9. Where am I going to be when I receive my chemotherapy?
  10. Do I need to have someone with me when I get my chemo?
  11. Do I have to have a driver
  12. Am I going to be sick to my belly (nauseated or vomiting) with treatment?
  13. What should I wear when I come to get my chemo?
  14. Will I have to get a “port” for my chemotherapy?
  15. What do I need to eat or drink when I am on chemotherapy?
  16. Can I take herbal supplements while on chemotherapy?
  17. Am I going to be able to be around people while undergoing treatment?
  18. What side effects will I have with chemotherapy/Will I lose my hair?
  19. Who do I call if I experience a problem/side effect?
  20. How often will I get chemotherapy?
  21. Hematology/Oncology Treatment Unit Staff & Phone numbers
  22. Important questions to ask before letting people visit while undergoing cancer treatment
  23. Precautions to prevent illness while taking chemo (neutropenic precautions)
  24. Tips for going home with chemotherapy infusion pump
  25. Webpage to locate clinical trials
  26. Special instructions for chemotherpay pills (oral chemotherapy)
  27. Cancer survivorship
  28. Palliative Care
  29. Social work services
Oncology and Hematology staff
Some of the Oncology and Hematology staff.  Click to view larger image.

1. What are Oncology and Hematology?

They are the study of cancers and blood disorders.

 

2. Does everyone with cancer need chemotherapy and radiation?

Not everyone needs chemotherapy and radiation.

There are many types of cancer treatments that are TAILORED to individual’s needs. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are types of cancer treatment.

A treatment plan tailored to your cancer will be developed with you and your provider.

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Chemotherapy room
A chemotherapy room at the Robley Rex VA Medical Center, 3 South facility.  Click to view larger image.

3. Where is radiation performed for the veterans?

Radiation services are contracted to outside facility through the VA.

Resource: Radiation Therapy and You - National Cancer Institute

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4. What is chemotherapy?

Resource: Information and support - Macmillan Cancer
Video: Chemotherapy Basics (opens in new window)

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Staff at main check-in desk
Staff at the main check-in desk.  Click to view larger image.

5. Where is chemotherapy given to veterans?

At Robley Rex VA Medical Center, 3 South

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6. How is my cancer watched/monitored?

Many cancers are watched with scans periodically during treatment, there are also blood tests that monitor some cancers.

What is a Cat Scan?

What is a PET Scan?

What is a Mammogram?

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Provider with a chemotherapy patient
A Veteran with a provider.  Click to view larger image.

7. Nutrition and chemotherapy

Can I eat before chemotherapy?

Yes.

Can I bring food with me?

Yes. Light snacks like peanut butter crackers, chicken salad, puddings and juice are available for veterans.

There is a cafeteria located on the second floor in which food can be purchased.

There is a refrigerator available on chemotherapy unit where food can be placed, ask at the desk so name can be placed on food from home.

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8. Can I take my regular medications before chemotherapy treatment?

Yes.

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Doors to unit
The entrance to the unit.  Click to view larger image.

9. Where am I going to be when I receive my chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is given at Robley Rex VA Hematology/Oncology Treatment Unit (HOTU) located on 3 South, 800 Zorn Ave, Louisville KY 40206.

Veterans receiving chemotherapy will be either in a hospital room or in a large treatment room with reclining chairs.

There are restrooms in the hospital rooms and across from the elevators for people in the treatment room.

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10. Do I need to have someone with me when I get my chemo?

No.

It is usually recommended for the first treatment, so that you and your family can get more comfortable with the process.

It is OK to bring a family member/friend with you to treatment.

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11. Do I have to have a driver?

No.

You may want one for your first chemo until you see how well you do.

Sometimes medicines are given prior to chemo and may make you tired/drowsy

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12. Am I going to be sick to my belly (nauseated or vomiting) with treatment?

MOST PEOPLE DO NOT GET SICK ON THE DAY OF CHEMO

You could have some nausea with chemotherapy.

You will be given medications prior to most chemotherapies to prevent nausea/vomiting and be given medications for home.

NOT everyone gets nauseated/vomits with chemo.

Each chemo is different and some have a higher potential to cause nausea so more medications are given prior to chemo and even after chemotherapy to prevent this.

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13. What should I wear when I come to get my chemo?

Comfortable clothes.

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14. Will I have to get a “port” for my chemotherapy?

NOT all chemotherapies require ports (implanted devices under skin).

Some chemotherapies require a port placed under their skin for chemo to be given thru.

Some veterans need a port because their veins are not very good for chemo.

Resource: Your Implanted Port | Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

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15. What do I need to eat or drink when I am on chemotherapy?

You will meet with the oncology nutritionist on your first chemotherapy day who will help guide your food/drink requirements.

REMEMBER: You MUST keep eating even though foods may not taste the same and MUST keep drinking water to stay hydrated.

NOT A GOOD TIME FOR A DIET!!

Resources: Eating Hints: National Cancer Institute, Nutrition & Cancer

Getting proper nutrition during cancer treatment can help you fight infections, give you needed energy to tolerate cancer therapy, help your body heal, and give you a better chance at recovering from your cancer. Keep in mind that your nutritional needs may change during your treatment.

Both chemotherapy and radiation treatments may affect your nutritional status. The most common side effect is loss of appetite. You may also experience altered taste, nausea, diarrhea, dehydration, sore mouth and throat. There are things you can do to reduce or eliminate these. Consult with your dietitian for assistance with your specific needs and concerns.

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16. Can I take herbal supplements while on chemotherapy?

Please check with your oncology/hematology provider before taking ANY herbal supplements.

Some of these supplements may make chemotherapy less effective, so alert your provider of any herbal supplements so that they can be checked for any interactions.

Resource: Memorial Sloan Kettering Herbal webpage

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17. Am I going to be able to be around people while undergoing treatment?

Yes.

It will be important for you to stay away from people who are sick during treatment.

If you have an event to attend such as wedding/graduation-GO!

Just be careful and use strict handwashing!!

We can provide you with masks to wear for events if you need some.

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18. What side effects will I have with chemotherapy/Will I lose my hair?

Some side effects that a person CAN have with chemo are rash, infection, drop in blood counts, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, fatique, loss of appetite, weight loss and/or change in taste of foods.

EACH chemo has different side effects and EACH person has different side effects.

Some chemotherapies will cause HAIR LOSS until after treatment has completed, NOT ALL CAUSE HAIR LOSS.

Resources: Tips for Managing Chemotherapy Side Effects:

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19. Who do I call if I experience a problem/side effect?

Each veteran receiving chemo will be assigned an oncology/hematology nurse navigator to assist with any questions and will be given their contact numbers for questions.

The phone number to 3s is 502-287-5753 for more urgent questions/ message can be left for navigators.

PROCEED to the Emergency room for any emergent issues.

MyHealthevet can be used to send a secure message your provider or nurse navigator.

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20. How often will I get chemotherapy?

Every chemotherapy regimen is different.

Chemo regimens can be daily, weekly, every other week, every 3 weeks or monthly

Your provider will be able to give you this information.

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21. Hematology/Oncology Treatment Unit Staff & Phone numbers

  • Robin Szczapinski (Oncology Nurse Practitioner/Nurse Manager) 502-287-4051
  • Cheryl Booth (Hem/Onc Nurse Practitioner) 502-287-5650
  • Julie Brothers (Hematology Nurse Navigator) 502-287-5058
  • Kristen Sherrard (Onc Navigator/prostate/colon and GI cancer) 502-287-5868
  • Christy Threlkel (Onc Navigator/lung/breast cancer) 502-287-5102
  • Susan Thornton (Onc Navigator/head/neck, renal/bladder/esophageal) 502-287-5094
  • Lisa Evans (Hem/Onc Navigator/liver cancer and hematology) 502-287-4903
  • Bridgette Irvin (Hematology Nurse Navigator) 502-287-4904

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22. Important questions to ask before letting people visit while undergoing cancer treatment

(YES) (NO) Have you been sick lately?
(YES) (NO) Have your children/child been out of school for sickness in past week?
(YES) (NO) Have you recently received any LIVE VACCINATIONS such as SHINGLES VACCINE?

If NO to all 3 questions, people are OK to come to your home while receiving chemo

When undergoing chemotherapy, people can have their immune system weakened and are more apt to get sick.

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23. Precautions to prevent illness while taking chemo (neutropenic precautions)

  1. Strict Handwashing. If soap and water are not available, hand sanitizers can be used.
  2. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables
  3. Avoid crowds and crowded places
  4. Monitor self for signs/symptoms of infection:
    - Elevated temperature
    - Burning with urination
    - Cough
    - Redness/warmth on area of skin.

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24. Tips for going home with chemotherapy infusion pump

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25. Webpage to locate clinical trials (site opens in new window)

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26. Special instructions for chemotherpay pills (oral chemotherapy)

Watch this video series (opens in new window)


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27. Cancer survivorship

What is cancer survivorship? Living with, through and after cancer

Recommendations

  • Keep up to date with all cancer screenings
  • Live a healthy life, stay active
  • No Smoking or illicit drug use
  • Use moderation with alcohol

For More information about cancer survivorship and recommendations, see below link:

Click on links below for information about where and how to stay active, community resources:

Smoking Cessation at Robley Rex VA:
Coordinator: Patricia Weiter
Phone: 502-287-6442

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28. Palliative Care


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28. Social work services

Oncology/Hematology Social Worker:
Susan Marcum
Phone: 502-287-5266

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Contact Info

Location

  • Robley Rex VA Medical Center, 3 South

Contact Number(s)

  • 502-287-5752
  • 502-287-6882 Ext. Fax

Hours of Operation

  • 7:00am - 4:30pm Mon - Fri