You may be required to take several medicines during the course of your cancer treatment – some to treat the disease, and others to bring relief for its harsh side effects. It is important that you take the medicines exactly as suggested by your doctor.
Common mistakes that patients make while taking medicines
The most common mistake that a patient makes is to not follow the instructions of the doctor.
Why does this happen? There could be several reasons.
- After taking the medicines for a few days, you start feeling better. So you decide that you don’t really need to take all those medicines since you’re feeling better already.
- Or it might just be that because you have to take so many different medicines at different times of the day and week, you find it difficult to keep track of the complex schedule.
- After taking the medication for a while, you don’t notice the improvements that you had hoped for, so you get disheartened and stop it altogether.
- You miss a few doses, and then you’re not sure whether you should discontinue the medicines, start again, or carry on as usual.
- You may also try to save money by skipping some doses if you find that the medicines are expensive, which they are.
Some tips to help adhere to the schedule
- Check the label of your medicine so you know the correct dosage. If in doubt, verify it with your doctor. Take the same dose every time you take that medicine.
- Make a pill chart or a pill organizer so you know the exact time and dosage of all medicines. You could tape this chart to your fridge or pin it on your bulletin board.
- Save the schedule on your mobile phone and set reminders so that you don’t miss any medicines. Make the most of modern technology.
- You can also ask your friends, family members and caregivers to remind you about taking your medicines.
- If you are going out for a few hours, and you need to take any medicine during that time, carry it with you. If you are going out of town for a few days, consult your doctor before leaving and carry all medicines in a pill box.
- If the cost is of concern, don’t hesitate to discuss it with your doctor and your health care team. Someone will definitely be able to connect you to financial aid-providing groups in your locality.
Discuss with your healthcare team about these things
There are certain important things that you need to discuss with your healthcare team.
Find out which foods you need to avoid. This is because certain foods might interfere with medication, especially if you also have some other health problem like diabetes, high blood pressure, or a heart condition. These foods could cause or aggravate side effects of treatment.
You must also inform your doctor about any allergies that you have to any particular medicines. Find out which medicines must be taken on an empty stomach, and which ones need to be taken before or after meals.
Method of taking medicines
If you have a pronounced gag reflex or you just don’t feel like swallowing too many medicines at once, check with your healthcare team if you can crush the pills.
The medicines may be too many, or too expensive, or even make you feel uneasy and sleepy, but remember, you are fighting cancer. It is imperative that you follow the schedule to derive full benefits. If particular medicine makes you particularly uncomfortable, speak to your doctor and have it changed if possible.