Norris Cotton Cancer CenterNorris Cotton Cancer Center
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What it is Like to be a Patient?

Having a bone marrow or stem cell transplant at Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Compassionate care for the whole person

We offer a relaxed, caring environment in a nurturing rural setting. We know that emotional and mental well-being are as important to healing as the treatment itself. Surrounded by rolling hills, shady walking paths, and soothing brooks, Norris Cotton Cancer Center is a place you can rest, relax, and recover.

A blood and marrow transplant requires an average of 21 consecutive days, but only 3 – 6 hours each day are spent in actual treatment. Rather than spending the rest of the time in the hospital, we encourage patients to stay at home if possible, or in one of several local hotels that make special arrangements for BMT patients. This provides increased privacy and quiet time and can make the treatment less unpleasant.

Healing inside and out after a bone marrow or stem cell transplant

You will have choices of how to spend time while in the hospital. We have an energizing activities program. There are also restaurants, shopping, and libraries to explore. Our ample grounds offer walking paths and gardens for outdoor enjoyment.

Our groups and classes—just for cancer patients and their family members—help reduce pain, stress, and worry. Many patients find them energizing. We believe they make it easier to handle a tough situation. We encourage you to try as many special services as you can:

Recovering from a blood and marrow transplant

Each day following the transplant has a routine. Your day can be adapted to your needs. An average daily routine includes:

Medical Care

  • Monitoring of vital signs and weight
  • Lab tests
  • Tracking of fluid intake and output
  • Management of any chemo side effects, such as nausea, headache, or diarrhea


  • Caring for your teeth, mouth, and gums. Rinsing with salt water four times a day
  • Taking daily showers. Skin checks for sores or rashes. Regular moisturizer use

Plan for comfortable clothing

You will be provided a hospital gown, pajama bottoms, and a robe. We encourage you to bring and wear your own comfortable clothes. Don’t forget eyeglasses, slippers, or socks from home. Also consider bringing a pair of sneakers for walking around. Here’s a suggested packing list.

Pass time with visitors

Immediate family members may visit at any time, and even stay the night in your room. We may, however, limit the number of visitors in your room at a time. Others can wait in the sunroom, cafeteria, or library. You will need a lot of rest. Visitors should be careful not to stay too long so you don’t get tired.

To protect you from infection, we take special precautions:

  • Visitors must wash their hands before entering your room
  • No sick visitors
  • No visitor use of your bathroom or shower
  • No diaper-changing in your room

Learn more by reading and watching patient stories.

Getting back to normal

As you strengthen your immune system in the weeks and months following your blood and marrow transplant, you will need to modify your normal activities slightly. Read our returning home tips to learn how you will manage pets, shellfish, sun exposure, exercise, and more. Also know when to call us (603-650-4628) with questions or concerns after discharge.

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