Mobility changes

Some treatments can affect how well you can walk and move around. For example, this could be if you have had surgery and now have a false (prosthetic) limb.

It can be hard to adapt to any changes, but there are lots of things to help you. You may find joining an online forum helpful, to get support from other people in a similar situation.

You may need to make some changes to your accommodation to help you be as independent as possible.

You should still be able to get into school or university buildings. They have to make sure anyone can have access. Employers also need to make reasonable adjustments if you have had cancer.

If you drive, it may be possible to adapt your vehicle for any needs you have. You can also get help when using public transport. You will need to check what help is available before you travel.

It can take some time for you to adapt and you may need to plan ahead. But you should be able to do most things you did before.

Changes to walking and moving around

This section might help if you can’t walk or move around as well as you used to. For example, you may use a wheelchair or have a false (prosthetic) limb as a result of your cancer treatment. It can be hard to adjust to any change like this, especially if it’s permanent. It is important that you get the support you need. This may include support from a local limb-fitting centre if you have had an amputation. Or you might need regular physiotherapy support.

You should be able to do most of the things you could do before your treatment. But it may take you a bit of time to adjust. There might be some things you cannot do now, or that you find harder than before. You can still be independent and do things like learning to drive and travelling abroad if you want to. Things just might need more planning than they did before.

It can help to talk to someone else in the same situation. Online forums are helpful for this. You can find people to chat to in our Online Community group for people aged 16-24. Or you can ask your cancer doctor or nurse to put you in contact with someone who can help.


Living independently

How much support you need at home will depend on what you are able to do yourself. You may be able to make changes to your home to make it easier.

Some examples of these changes include:

  • wheelchair ramps
  • ‘grab rails’ for the bath or shower
  • lowered kitchen surfaces.

If you live on your own, you might be able to get some help at home. We have information on benefits, and you can talk to one of our advisers for advice. 

Disability Rights UK also have good information. Your family and friends will usually want to help you as much as possible. It’s okay to let them. You need to find a balance between living as independently as possible and accepting help when you need it.


Education and employment

Mobility changes should not stop you attending school, college or uni, or doing the job you did before. If you are still in education, it’s against the law for an education provider to discriminate against you. Discrimination includes not providing access for someone to get into the school or college building. They also need to provide extra support and aids if you need them. Universities and colleges should have someone you can talk to about this. They might be called a well-being officer or disability advisor.

If you have a job and want to return to it, ask your employer about adjustments they can make to help. People who have been affected by cancer have rights that protect them in their workplace.

If you are applying for jobs, the employer can only ask limited questions about your disability. These must be relevant to the job you applied for. We have information about your rights at work, or you can contact your local Citizens Advice.


Driving

Driving is a great way to be independent. It is possible to adapt cars in different ways to suit different needs. For example, you may need a hand-controlled accelerator and steering aids. You might be able to access a car through the Motability scheme. If you live in England, you need to contact the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency). If you live in Northern Ireland, you should contact the DVA Northern Ireland. You need to be honest with them about your change in circumstances. They might want to write to your cancer doctor, with your permission. You need to make sure you have the right insurance.

If you’re learning to drive, many driving schools have cars to suit your needs. If they do not, you can often learn in your own car. You should also tell your test centre about your needs. This means they can arrange the access you need when it comes to having your test.

You might also be able to get a blue badge, to make parking easier when you’re out and about. You can see if you are eligible for this and if so, you can apply for it online.

Your local Driving Assessment Centre might also be able to help.


Travel

You can still travel at home and abroad despite any mobility changes. It’s the law for buses, coach companies and taxis in the UK to make their vehicles accessible to everyone. Most train stations now have step-free access and some London tube stations do too.

You should still check your route before you travel. You can also ask for help when you are travelling by train. A person from the rail company can help with your bags or help you on and off the train. If you want more information about rail travel for disabled passengers, have a look at the National Rail Enquiries website.

Airports also have people who can help you on and off the plane. Most airports also have mobility aids, to help you get to the airport departure gates if needed. You usually need to book ahead to get assistance. You can look at the airport website and let your airline know too.


Exercising


Other people's reactions

It’s natural to worry about how your family and friends will react to your new situation. You may be concerned that they will leave you out of plans. But they will want to support you. Try to be open with them about how you feel. 

Coming to terms with your mobility changes can be very hard. But over time, most people adjust well to their situation. If you feel you need help, it’s fine to ask your cancer doctor or nurse. They can refer you for more support.