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Voices: A Special Member of my Team

Chemotherapygynecologic cancer care teamgynecologic oncology
Jul 11, 2013

A Special Member of My Team | Dee Sparacio

The first day I went for chemotherapy I really didn’t know what to expect. Two weeks earlier I had surgery and learned I had ovarian cancer. I hadn’t had time for a tour of the treatment area so I was a bit nervous.

I was led to my seat in the bright sunny treatment area of my cancer center. My oncology nurse instantly made me feel at ease. She explained step by step what would happen that day, patiently answering my questions, bringing me a glass of water, a pillow and a blanket. She told me how long the infusions would take and which premeds I would be given. Then she accessed my port, drawing blood for some tests. When the results of my blood work came back normal, she explained that she was sending the chemotherapy orders my doctor wrote to the pharmacy. That is when I learned that my chemotherapy drugs were not sitting on a shelf premade but were made just for me right down the hall in the pharmacy.

As the infusion continued I wondered how I would keep straight the daily medications I took along with the medications I would need to take after chemotherapy such as anti-nausea pills. When I mentioned this to my nurse she told me she would have a pharmacist stop by to answer my questions. That is the first time I met Mike. He answered my questions and provided me a chart listing all the medications I was taking and the time of day I should take them. He explained which drugs could be taken together and which must be taken alone or with food.

When I recurred a few years later Mike once again stopped by on my first day of chemo with a new sheet listing the medications I was prescribed and when to take them. Three weeks later when I had an allergic reaction to my chemotherapy Mike was the pharmacist they called. It was calming to see a familiar face ready to get me through a tough time.

Mike is not just a licensed pharmacist but he has gone the next step and become a board certified oncology pharmacist. I didn’t know a certification of that type was given but I am happy that Mike and his experience as an oncology pharmacist is a member of my health care team.

Watch this SGO video “On Your Side: The Gynecologic Cancer Care Team” to learn more about other members of a gynecologic cancer survivor’s health care team.