How chemotherapy may affect your everyday life

Some people may be able to lead an almost normal life during treatment. But this depends on the type of chemotherapy you’re having and your general health.

You may be able to take time off work for treatment and work shorter hours. You can plan ahead, so you can enjoy a social life during the times when you feel well by resting during the day. You can take anti-sickness tablets before you go for a meal. Drinking alcohol occasionally is usually fine, but check with your doctor or nurse first. If you have an important event you would like to attend it may be possible to change your treatment date.

If you are going abroad on holiday, it’s very important not to have any ‘live’ vaccines. Ask your doctor if you need any vaccines and whether it's safe for you to have them.

It can also be difficult to get travel insurance if you have cancer. We can suggest some travel insurance companies who offer insurance to people with medical conditions.

Everyday life during chemotherapy

Even though chemotherapy treatment can cause unpleasant side effects, some people still manage to lead an almost normal life during treatment. But this depends on the type of chemotherapy you’re having.

Even if you feel unwell after chemotherapy, you may recover quickly and have time to do the things you usually do before your next cycle. If the cancer is causing symptoms, your chemotherapy may make you feel better by relieving these.

Some people are able to go to work with time off and shorter working hours.


Social life

You may not be able to do some of the things we usually take for granted. But, depending on how you feel, there’s no reason to stop going out or visiting friends, if you plan ahead.

If you’re going out for the evening, try to rest during the day so you have more energy at night. If you’re going out for a meal, take anti-sickness tablets (if you need to) before you go.

If you have an important social event coming up ask your doctor if your treatment date can be changed so that you feel as well as possible for the occasion.


Alcohol

For most people, having the occasional alcoholic drink shouldn’t affect your chemotherapy treatment. But it’s best to check with your doctor or nurse first.


Holidays and vaccinations

If you're going abroad on holiday, it's important to remember that you should not have any ‘live' vaccines while you're having chemotherapy. These include:

  • MMR (the triple vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella)
  • BCG (tuberculosis)
  • yellow fever
  • oral typhoid.

There are some vaccines that you can have if necessary. If you're travelling abroad, ask your doctor if you need any vaccines and whether it's safe for you to have them.

Sometimes people who have, or have had, cancer can find it difficult to get travel insurance.

We have information about travel and cancer and have a list of travel insurance companies who offer insurance to people with medical conditions including cancer.


Back to Side effects of chemotherapy

Possible side effects

There are many possible side effects to chemotherapy treatment, but they can be reduced. There are practical ways to manage them.

Chemo brain

Chemo brain describes changes in memory, concentration and the ability to think clearly. These changes can sometimes happen during or after cancer treatment.

Possible effects on sex life

Chemotherapy can affect your sex life. There are different things that may be able to help.

Possible effects on fertility

Chemotherapy can affect your fertility. If this is a concern for you, it’s very important to discuss it with your doctor before treatment.