Will It Be Helpful To Have A Companion With Me At Treatment Sessions?

Anna Ferrari M.D., B.S., NYU Langone Medical Center

March 16, 2009 -- Question: Will it be helpful to have a companion with me at treatment sessions?

Answer: With regards to the companion, I believe it is essential that you bring someone with you when you're going to start chemotherapy and have never experienced the side effects of chemotherapy. Sometimes we have to use pre-medication that will make you somewhat sleepy and drowsy so you certainly may not be as perky as you would like to -- you know, go drive a car, or go by bus, whichever means you use to get to the treatment center. However I have to say that in my own experience, my own practice in New York City, many men, once they know and they've gone through the first cycle of chemotherapy just never really even bring a companion. They just get their chemotherapy go back home. They don't, you don't have very unlikely will have immediate side effects such as nausea or vomiting that would prevent you from going back home by your own, and in general is they're quite well tolerated.

So it depends also on your baseline performance status. If you're a very active person. I've known and I have patients of my own that sometimes go back to work the same day. They come in the morning, get their chemotherapy and they're back to work in the afternoon, or vice versa. They come at the end of the day, and then they go home and then the next day we start all over.

So it really varies with your circumstances and your experience with chemotherapy in the past and certainly I've seen the whole gamut of variation with regards to companion versus no companion. Some people will not show up without a companion, and others definitely do not want a companion because a companion is too concerned about them and they're just feeling fine. So I've seen it both ways and I think you have to make that decision again with the help of the oncology nurse and the oncologist that will advise you in that regard.