We count on pharmacists, nurses and other staff to make sure our drugs and chemo are dispensed exactly as ordered. Theirs are tough jobs. They’re in contact with countless patients, doctors and co-workers all day long.  Things can go wrong, and they sometimes do.

Stem Cells
Stem Cells

A few years ago I learned how necessary it is to read the label. After I sat down for an IV infusion of Zometa, I happened to glance at the bag hanging there and noticed that someone else’s name was on it! I alerted a nurse immediately and the IV was stopped. A closer examination of the label indicated that it was meant for another patient, but that it was the same drug I was to have received. It was a wake up call.

When you pick up your meds or sit down in the chair to get chemo, know what it is you’re supposed to be receiving and check the labels.  Don’t be afraid to ask, “What is that?” and get up to inspect the label if you have to.  Maybe a caregiver would take care of it for you. Nobody’s feelings will be hurt and you’ll have peace of mind.

Know as much about your treatments as possible. You’d be surprised at the number of cancer patients I’ve met who couldn’t tell me what medication they were on or what chemo they’ve had!  It’s a good idea to have an advocate who goes along with you to appointments.

January 28th, 2009 will mark the 6th anniversary since I learned I had multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer of the plasma cell. Since then, I’ve learned that being what some would call a “difficult” patient possibly means a better outcome. Learning more about your condition is of the utmost importance. I found out that other patients and their caregivers were a tremendous source of information. This is one of the reasons HealthBlogs now exists.

Beth Morgan