Daily life during treatment

Daily life during cancer treatment will probably have a different pattern from what you are used to. Depending on your treatment plan, having treatment may take up a lot of your time. You’ll have scheduled appointments for treatment and tests. If you have to travel for your appointments, you may be away from home. You may no longer be going to work, or you may be working less or changing your work time around your treatment appointments. And you’ll be dealing with the side effects of treatment.

Getting to your treatment

You may be wondering if it’s safe for you to drive to your treatment and home again. Talk to your healthcare team about this, because it will depend on the type of treatment and how you feel after it.

If you can, arrange for someone to drive you home after your first couple of appointments. This will allow you to see if you have any side effects that might affect your driving. Side effects like fatigue, nausea and vomiting can make it hard for you to concentrate or be alert, and they can affect your desire to drive as well.

Ask family members or friends to give you a ride to and from your appointments. If enough people are willing to help, you can set up a driving schedule so that the driving is shared.

While at treatment

Chemotherapy and other drug therapy treatments may take several hours, depending on the drugs used. It can help to take along something to do while you are in the chemotherapy ward.

Many drugs used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy can make you sleepy, so you may nap for a time during your treatment. You may want to bring a favourite blanket and pillow for comfort or warmth. Fuzzy socks or slippers can help keep your feet warm.

With radiation treatment, you are often in and out of the treatment room in about 10 minutes.

After your treatment appointment

You may want to go home right after your chemotherapy treatment is finished to rest and relax. You may still be very tired from the drugs given for nausea and vomiting, or you may not feel very good.

Some people want to continue with their usual daily routine – you may find that this is possible if you have radiation therapy, at least at the start. But radiation therapy can cause fatigue, which usually starts about 2 weeks after the start of treatment. So you may want to have a nap or rest for a while after radiation therapy.

The main thing is to listen to your body, and give it the rest that it needs.

Coping with treatment side effects

Side effects can happen with any type of treatment for cancer, but everyone’s experience is different. Some people have many side effects. Other people have few or none at all.

If you develop side effects, they can happen any time during, immediately after or a few days or weeks after cancer treatment. Most side effects go away on their own or can be treated, but some side effects may last a long time or become permanent.

Side effects of cancer treatment will depend mainly on the type of treatment, the doses used, and if you are getting more than one treatment.

Some side effects aren’t always obvious. Your healthcare team might not know that you find it hard to sleep or that you’re having trouble remembering things. Tell them about any side effects that you think are caused by your treatment and how you feel about them. The sooner you tell them of any problems, the sooner your healthcare team can help you cope with them.

Learn about managing treatment side effects.

Expert review and references

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

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