St. Joseph’s Health Centre is committed to providing you with the best care as you journey through treatment for a cancer diagnosis. Our systemic therapy department is located on the sixth floor of the East wing.
We are a specialized cancer care unit where you will receive treatment from expert staff and attend scheduled visits with your cancer doctor. One of the most common types of treatment is chemotherapy. You will receive information on the specific drugs prescribed for you, as well as how to manage any side effects associated with treatment.
A specialized team dedicated to quality cancer care will follow you through diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up visits. Our team includes the following professionals you will meet and the role they will play in your care:
Medical oncologists are doctors who specialize in cancer care. They will determine what type of drugs you will get and how often you will come for your appointments. You will have regularly scheduled visits with your doctor to assess how you are doing on treatment. This is a good time to ask questions about your future, treatment, and side effects.
A specially-trained nurse will start your IV and administer your cancer treatment. Your nurse will give you information on the type of drug you are receiving and what kind of side effects to expect. As your progress through treatment your nurse will help you to manage side effects, address your concerns, and support your overall wellness.
A pharmacist is responsible for reviewing the chemotherapy order to ensure the safety of medications given on the unit. If you have any questions about medications you are taking, ask to speak with one of our pharmacists.
Our pharmacy technicians are responsible for mixing your chemotherapy drugs. They will prepare and any other medications you may receive prior to your treatment (i.e. anti-nausea medication).
Specially-trained spiritual care workers can meet with you to discuss your feelings and concerns in a way that honours your particular values and beliefs. You do not have to be religious to benefit from spiritual care. Facilitation of many forms of spiritual expression and religious rituals are offered in order to best meet your personal needs.
Registered dietitians can offer counselling for food and nutritional support during and after your treatment. They can help you to manage symptoms that affect nutrition as well as manage weight loss or weight gain.
Patient care manager
If you have any compliments or concerns about the care you are receiving, a patient care manager is available to speak with you to ensure your safety is put first.
How to find us:
Come up to the sixth floor and follow the signs for the Oncology/haematology unit. Check in at the reception desk. You will be shown to a waiting room where you will be called in for your appointment. You will also be asked to complete an assessment sheet of your signs
What should I bring with me to my chemotherapy appointment?
- Your government-issued health card and blue hospital card: You will need these two pieces of identification to check in at reception.
- Medications: Bring a list of all your current medications for your first appointment. For all other appointments, just bring any medications that you have to take while in the hospital (i.e. pain, anti-nausea and other regular scheduled medications).
- One family member or friend: There is room in the treatment area for one person to stay with you while you receive treatment.
- Snacks: We serve lunch while you are with us on the unit. You are welcome to bring your own snacks or food if you have specific dietary restrictions.
Everyone responds to chemotherapy differently, and some of the side effects can be unpleasant. It is good for you to know which side effects require the help of a health care professional. Call your doctor or go to the nearest emergency department if you have:
- A fever above 38° C or 100.5° F and/or you feel chills (Do NOT take Tylenol. Make sure you tell the staff in emergency that you are taking chemotherapy)
- Vomiting or diarrhea for more than 24 hours after chemotherapy and you are losing a lot of fluids
- No bowel movements for three days
- Pains or cramps in your stomach
- Blood in your vomit or black stool
- Bleeding gums, a bleeding nose of if you’re bruising for no reason
- Dizziness, extreme tiredness or shortness of breath
- A congested chest, non-stop cough or yellow, green or rusty-coloured mucous
- A painful throat or mouth
- A burning feeling when you urinate, blood in your urine or less urine than usual
Call a member of your healthcare team if you have any other health problem that is unusual and worries you.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. We understand that a lot of the information you are hearing is unfamiliar. Because of this, many trusted organizations have created resources to help you through your journey. Here are a few links to assist you as you move through treatment.
Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) (https://www.cancercare.on.ca/) is a trusted organization that advises the Ontario government on cancer care. They offer great resources for patients:
- How to manage your symptoms: https://www.cancercare.on.ca/toolbox/symptools/patient_symptom_management_guides
- Drug dnformation for patients: Type the name of the drug you are getting and select either ‘Drug Info,’ ‘Chemo Regimen Info,’ or ‘Symptom Management Info’ to get more information. https://www.cancercare.on.ca/toolbox/patientdruginfo/
The BC Cancer Agency (http://www.bccancer.bc.ca/) is British Columbia’s cancer agency, and has excellent resources for patients:
- Health information: This link provides trusted information on all types of cancer and resources on coping with cancer. http://www.bccancer.bc.ca/health-info
Cancer.net (http://www.cancer.net/) is an oncologist-approved resource from the American Society of Clinical Oncology: