Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the most common questions we hear from patients. If your cancer-related question is not addressed here, please feel free to contact us.
Q. What do I do if I need to get in touch with my physician after office hours or on the weekends?
A. Any time you have a medical emergency, call 911. If you simply have a concern or question for the physician that can’t wait until office hours, please call our office. Our answering service takes calls during non-office hours, and our on-call physician will return your call as soon as possible. Even if the person who calls you back is not your regular physician, he/she works with your doctor and will be able to help you. If your problem is not cancer related, please call your primary care physician and that office will assist you.
Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion
Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Lacks Cancer Center
The Johnson Family Cancer Center (Muskegon)
Cancer & Hematology East
Q: Will I lose my hair?
A: It depends on your treatment. Chemotherapy may cause your hair to thin or completely fall out, depending on the kind of drugs you receive. You may also lose hair from other parts of your body, but hair will grow back after your treatment is complete. Sometimes the color or texture is slightly different.
Q: What type of treatment will I receive?
A: Your treatment plan depends on several factors, such as your cancer, its location and stage, your general health, age and more. Your team will review your history thoroughly in order to recommend a course of treatment. All options, including benefits and risks, will be reviewed with you and any family members or friends you wish to include.
Q: May I bring a family member or friend to my appointments?
A: It’s helpful if a friend or family member can accompany you, and we encourage it. Patients are often naturally anxious about their condition and may not be feeling their best. You’ll receive a lot of new information during your visit. You may find that having another person there to act as an extra pair of “ears,” to take notes, to ask questions you might not think of at that moment—and to provide emotional support—is helpful.
Q: What should I tell my children?
A: It depends on the age of your children. If you might lose your hair, it’s important to let them know beforehand so they won’t be frightened. Our experience has been that it’s good to be as honest as you can with children.
Q: What if I think I may be pregnant?
A: Let your physician know immediately. Chemotherapy can be dangerous to the fetus.
Q: Do I have the option to be treated by a female doctor?
A: At CHCWM, each specialist is unique in specializing in certain cancer. If a female physician specializing in your cancer is available, we will try our best to schedule you with a physician of your preference.
Q: Am I going to be in pain?
A: Not necessarily. Process and treatment vary from cancer to cancer. There are many medications used to control pain and keep you comfortable. If you do experience pain, let your nurse know so we can resolve it quickly.
Q: I know that chemotherapy can make me more likely to get infections. How can I help prevent infections?
A: Wash your hands often throughout the day, but especially before eating, after using the bathroom and after touching animals. Stay away from people who have a cold or flu. Avoid crowds. Stay away from children who just received a “live virus” injection, such as chicken pox or polio vaccines.
Q: How does my physician feel about me seeking a “second opinion”?
A: Our physicians encourage you to do what you feel is right for you. We will even make suggestions.
Q: What type of clothing should I wear when I come for my treatments?
A: Comfortable, loosely fitting clothing that can be layered. We have a blanket warmer so you can cover up if you get chilly.
Q: Is there any food served at your facility?
A: We have vending machines with snacks and cold drinks and juices. We also have a kitchen with a microwave and small refrigerator so you can bring a meal to warm up. Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are provided free of charge.
Q: Can I eat breakfast before my treatment?
A: Yes, whatever is normal for you in the morning.
Q: When should I call the doctor?
A: If you experience any of the following, please call us:
- fever, chills or temperature of 100.5 or greater
- vomiting or uncontrolled nausea
- diarrhea not controlled by Imodium AD
- shortness of breath
- feeling dizzy, unsteady or lightheaded
- mouth sores
Q: Will you accept my insurance?
A: Financial Counselors and Insurance Specialists are available at each location to help you determine the scope of your coverage and to provide financial advice. To learn more about insurance and financing, click here. <link: CHCWM financial information>
Q: How many types of cancer are there?
A: So far, more than 100 different types of cancer have been identified. But all forms of cancer start because of out-of-control growth of abnormal cells. To learn more, click here.
Q: Can cancer be prevented?
A: Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent cancer, people can reduce their risk of developing cancer by:
- not using tobacco products
- choosing foods with less fat and eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
- exercising regularly and maintaining a lean weight
- avoiding the harmful rays of the sun, using sunscreen, and wearing clothing that protects the skin
- talking with a doctor about the possible benefits of drugs proven to reduce the risk of certain cancers
Q: What are some of the common signs and symptoms of cancer?
A: Cancer can cause a number of symptoms. Possible signs of cancer include the following:
- new thickening or lump in the breast or any other part of the body
- new mole or an obvious change in the appearance of an existing wart or mole
- a sore that does not heal
- nagging cough or hoarseness
- changes in bowel or bladder habits
- persistent indigestion or difficulty swallowing
- unexplained changes in weight
- unusual bleeding or discharge