Tips to help with chemotherapy

20 Aug 2021

Chemotherapy can cause different side effects in different people. Your chemotherapy treatment may change the way you feel about yourself. Below are some tips to help you feel better during chemotherapy. Remember to check with your doctor what is best for you. Pink Hope members who have undergone chemotherapy provided the content of this blog.

Depending on the type of chemotherapy you are having, you may be there for quite a while. Bring some snacks with you, as well as a drink bottle. Water is important to flush away the chemotherapy out of your system. Ensure that you wear a loose-fitting jumper in winter so that the nurse can access your veins. Veins tend to disappear when you start treatment and when nurses try to find your veins, it can be quite painful, so have a chat with your oncologist about potentially getting an access port put in. There are different types of ports so it’s worth doing some research to find out the best option for you. 

Keep a list of symptoms after your chemotherapy and share these with your oncologist. They will try their best to give helpful suggestions or scripts for medicines you can take. It is recommended that you exercise before chemotherapy to help lower the side effects. 

Having your hair fall out can be very traumatic. You may decide to shave it off which for me was the best option. I didn’t want too many people there though. I just had my husband and family friend who is a hairdresser. You may like to try a cold cap to prevent hair loss during chemotherapy. It is not 100% guaranteed that you will keep your hair, but this is a great option for some patients. Get addicted to hats and scarfs! It can be very fun to go shopping for different hats and scarfs. Stock up before you start chemotherapy. Check with your private health insurer as they may cover part of the cost of a wig.

You may go back to work or you may decide to stay home during chemotherapy. If you choose to stay at home, keep yourself busy. If you are feeling well enough, go out for coffee with friends! Otherwise, buy some good books and invest in Netflix! You may feel major stress or anxiety post-surgery and during your chemotherapy. There are many tools for stress-relief that can be beneficial such as listening to motivational music, keeping a journal, deep breathing, inspirational reading and mindfulness.

If you decide to continue working or studying throughout your treatment, ensure that your manager is on the same page with you and they have a full understanding of what it’s going to be like. You might feel fine and work throughout the entire treatment or you might decide that it’s not working as well as you’d hoped. Ensure that that you’re actively communicating with your employer/teacher about what’s going on.