We know that chemotherapy can be daunting, whether you’re going for your first treatment or you’ve experienced it before. We asked women from our In Touch group to share what helped them during their chemotherapy treatment.
1. “I can’t do without my iPad and Kindle for passing the time.” Lynn, Burton-on-Trent.
Chemotherapy days can be very long so it is helpful to take something to pass the time while you are on treatment. You might want to take a couple of magazines and a good book or perhaps ask a relative or friend to keep you company.
2. “Cold Coca-Cola – which I don’t drink normally.” Jayne, Tillicoultry.
Some women find that cold fizzy drinks help to alleviate feelings of nausea or perhaps “it is the caffeine just giving you an extra energy boost”! Nourishing drinks such as fruit smoothies and milkshakes can also help you to maintain your weight if you are finding it difficult to eat.
3. “Keep a simple diary of how you’re feeling and any side effects you’re experiencing through the first couple of rounds.” Sarah, Buxton.
Knowing the times when you feel better or worse and keeping track of any side effects can help you to plan around your treatment. If you are concerned about any side effects or how you are feeling you can contact your Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) for advice.
4. “Make plans for when you’re at your best between rounds of treatment and plan a big event when it’s all over.” Maureen, West Kilbride.
Knowing that you have something to look forward to can make coping with difficult chemotherapy treatment a little easier. Remember that “you are allowed to feel rubbish” sometimes, but making the most of the days when you feel good can give you a huge boost.
5. “Get talking to other people who are having chemotherapy alongside you. Chances are that you’ll see them the next time you have treatment and it can be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Carol, Belfast.
Talking to someone who understands what you are going through and how you are feeling can be a huge comfort at times. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with others who are having chemotherapy might help you to feel that you are not alone in your experience.
6. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help or use the oncology helpline. They are there to help and reassure.” Rosanna, Peterborough.
Your hospital should give you a 24-hour helpline to ring if you are feeling ill at any time during your chemotherapy and in the weeks after treatment. You can also contact your Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) if you are feeling unwell or unsure.
7. “Going for a short walk even when your brain says no. You feel so much better afterwards.” Amanda, Biggleswade.
Being more active can help you cope with side effects of treatment including fatigue and can improve your emotional wellbeing too. Try to go outside and walk whenever you can, even if you just go down the road or into the garden.
8. “Using ingredients such as garlic, fresh chilli and turmeric can spice up even the simplest Bolognese sauce and can make a huge difference to your enjoyment of eating.” Ingrid, Rickmansworth.
You might find that your appetite and taste buds change during treatment. Experimenting with different spices and flavours can help make food taste less bland and eating small frequent meals and snacks rather than three large meals might help if your appetite is poor. You may also find that cold foods help to reduce cooking smells and therefore help to limit nausea.
9. “See if there is a local support group. It really helps to have contact with other women who are going through or have been through the same as you.” Agnes, Wirral.
Having a local face-to-face support network can be helpful at all stages of your treatment, but especially when your chemotherapy ends. Find your local support group or other sources of support on our website.
10. “Now that I have to dedicate time to drawing on eyebrows and using eyeliner to define my eyes, I’ve treated myself to some “good” makeup to make the daily ritual more bearable.” Ingrid, Rickmansworth.
Your chemotherapy treatment might mean that you have to make changes to your daily routine that you find challenging or uncomfortable. Treating yourself to something nice or spending time doing things that make you feel good might help you regain a sense of control and feel more like you.
Find out more
- Join our In Touch private Facebook group
- Read Hilary’s blog about using the cold cap during chemotherapy