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There’s no preparing for a cancer diagnosis. But when it comes to treatment, you can get yourself ready for what’s ahead. Even taking small steps can improve your sense of well-being and control, experts say.

Here are some things to do before your chemotherapy or radiation treatment begins.

Have a Clear Plan

“One of the single most important things you can do is to make sure you and your cancer care team are on the same page about exactly what your treatment involves,” says Dale R. Shepard, MD, PhD, of the Cleveland Clinic. “That includes what will happen during treatment, how long treatment will take, what the potential side effects are, and what the ultimate goal of your treatment is.”

Have a spouse or a friend take notes while you talk with your doctor. Also, get a second opinion if you feel you need one. “If you have any uncertainties, getting another opinion can help you make sure you’re on board with what your doctor’s recommending,” Shepard says.

Don’t worry about offending your doctor or surgeon -- you’re taking an active role in your own care.

Plan for What You Can

No matter what your treatment is, you won’t feel your best during recovery. So think about what you might need and plan ahead.

“A lot of frustration and anxiety before and during chemo or radiation isn’t actually about cancer, but about practical concerns: ‘How will I get back and forth to the hospital?’ or ‘Who will take care of my dog?’” says Wendy Griffith. She's a social worker at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Tap Into Your Network

  • Have friends and family help you figure out what you need -- and what you don’t. (For example, maybe you don’t need lots of extra food in your fridge.)
  • Ask people to take on specific jobs, like picking up the kids, walking the dog, or keeping up the housework.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Griffith says. “People are almost always happy to chip in; they’re just waiting for you to tell them what you need.”

Concerned About Infections During Strong Chemotherapy?

Is Your Immune System Ready for Chemotherapy?


Neulasta® is a prescription medicine used to help reduce the chance of infection due to a low white blood cell count, in people with certain types of cancer (non‐myeloid), who receive anti‐cancer medicines (chemotherapy) that can cause fever and low blood cell count.

It is not known if Neulasta® is safe and effective in children.

Important Safety Information
Who should not take Neulasta®?
Do not take Neulasta® if you have had a serious allergic reaction to Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim) or NEUPOGEN® (filgrastim).

What should I tell my health care provider before taking Neulasta®? Tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • Have sickle cell trait or sickle cell disease
  • Have had severe skin reactions to acrylic adhesives
  • Are allergic to latex
  • Have problems with your kidneys
  • Have any other medical problems
  • Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Neulasta® may harm your unborn baby.
  • Are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if Neulasta® passes into your breast milk.

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over‐the‐counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

What are possible serious side effects of Neulasta®?

  • Spleen Rupture. Your spleen may become enlarged and can rupture while taking Neulasta®. A ruptured spleen can cause death. Call your doctor right away if you have pain in the left upper stomach area or left shoulder tip area. This pain could mean your spleen is enlarged or ruptured.
  • A serious lung problem called Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Call your healthcare provider or get emergency medical help right away if you get any of these symptoms of ARDS: fever, shortness of breath, trouble breathing, or a fast rate of breathing.
  • Serious Allergic Reactions. Get emergency medical help right away if you get any of these symptoms of a serious allergic reaction with Neulasta®: shortness of breath, wheezing, dizziness, swelling around the mouth or eyes, fast pulse, sweating, and hives.

If you have an allergic reaction during the delivery of Neulasta®, remove the On-body Injector for Neulasta® by grabbing the edge of the adhesive pad and peeling off the On-body Injector. Get emergency medical help right away.

  • Sickle Cell Crises. Severe sickle cell crises, and sometimes death, can happen in people with sickle cell trait or disease who receive filgrastim, a medicine similar to Neulasta®.
  • Kidney injury (glomerulonephritis). Kidney injury has been seen in patients who received Neulasta®. You should notify your healthcare provider right away if you experience puffiness in your face or ankles, blood in your urine or brown colored urine or you notice you urinate less than usual.
  • Increased white blood cell count (leukocytosis). Your doctor will check your blood during treatment with Neulasta®.
  • Capillary Leak Syndrome. Neulasta® can cause fluid to leak from blood vessels into your body's tissues. This condition is called "Capillary Leak Syndrome" (CLS). CLS can quickly cause you to have symptoms that may become life-threatening. Get emergency medical help right away if you develop any of the following symptoms:
    • swelling or puffiness and are urinating less often
    • trouble breathing
    • swelling of your stomach-area (abdomen) and feeling of fullness
    • dizziness or feeling faint
    • a general feeling of tiredness

The most common side effect of Neulasta® is pain in the bones and in your arms and legs.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. These are not all the possible side effects of Neulasta®. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit, or call 1‐800‐FDA‐1088 (1-800-332-1088).

For more information about Neulasta®, talk with your healthcare provider or pharmacist; go to, or call 1-844-696-3852 (1-844-MYNEULASTA).

Please see accompanying Neulasta® Patient Information.