Your cancer treatment will likely include at least a few new home medications. Some you may need to take before your chemotherapy but most you’ll need to take after chemotherapy to help manage side effects. If you’re already taking medications for other medical problems, keeping track of all of these medications can get confusing. It’s important that you’re familiar with each of your medications and know why you’re taking them. It will be helpful to have a plan to help organize and properly manage all of these medications.

Talk to Your Team

Before starting chemotherapy, make a list of all of your medications, with doses and frequency or directions. Along with the medications prescribed by your oncologist include anything you’re already taking for other health conditions. Don’t forget to include vitamins, herbal supplements, over the counter medications and even anything you take just now and then like Tylenol or aspirin. If your medical facility uses an electronic medical record they’ll be able to print an up to date copy of all your medications. Keep a copy of this list with you and update it regularly so that you can refer to it as you continue your treatment. Make sure you communicate any allergies to your medical team

Once treatment begins, tell your oncologist if you’re considering taking any new medications or supplements that aren’t on the list. It’s also a good idea to use just one pharmacy for all of your prescriptions. This way your pharmacy can have a complete record of all of your medications and will be alerted to any possible drug interactions.

Your pharmacist will go over all new medications, address any of your questions, and let you know of any special requirements. For example, certain foods and drinks, such as alcohol, can sometimes affect your medications. If you have to use multiple pharmacies or choose a mail-order pharmacy, be sure to share your medication list with each of them.

Stay on Schedule

Once your oncologist prescribes all of your cancer treatment medications, you’ll need to make sure to take them as directed along with any of your other medications or supplements.

Use these tips to help stay on schedule with your treatment and other medications:

  • Always take your medication at the same time every day, like first thing in the morning or before bedtime.
  • Keep a medication calendar and mark each day when you take your medication. This is especially helpful if you only take a certain medication once or twice a week.
  • Use a 7-day pill organizer so you can arrange your medications weekly and know if you’ve taken each day’s pills.
  • Set a daily alarm on your computer or smartphone to alert you when it’s time to take your medication.

Your home medications are an important part of your cancer treatment. Depending on how many medications you’re already taking, keeping track of them can get confusing Knowing and understanding your medications and developing a system to organize and remind yourself to take them can make the process less confusing. Most importantly, ask for help if you need it.