During chemotherapy (chemo), you may need help getting things done. Meals, cleaning, and chores can be hard to manage when you have to manage chemo side effects. Some people have chemo side effects like hair loss, nausea, fatigue, mouth sores, constipation, and vomiting. These can slow you down and require you to get extra rest and attention. That's why many people arrange to get help.
Some people create a network of friends and family to:
- Run errands
- Pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy
- Drive to doctor visits
Others may rely on a caregiver. Some choose a mother, spouse, or adult child living at home. Preparing ahead for help will make chores easier during chemo. Be creative and bold; you may find you have more helpers than you think.
Support networks can be great. Your neighbor might be willing to pick your kids up from school. A relative might be able to send over a pre-prepared meal for your family on days when you've had treatment and don't feel well. A friend might be able to drive you to the doctor. Pre-arranged help can allow your caregiver to take a breather and do something else. If all goes well, the chores will get spread out. Sometimes the biggest obstacle is allowing yourself to ask for help. That part is up to you. Remember how good it feels when you are able to help someone else. This is what you are giving to others who love you and want you to have an easier time during chemo treatments.
For assistance, see the Support Network Worksheet
Some people rely on their spouse, or other family members, to be the primary caregiver. It can be helpful to bring a caregiver with you when you speak with your doctor. Caregivers can take notes and help you remember what the doctor said.
Though caregivers can be vital to your success, they need rest and support too. You can help your caregiver get support by asking them to reach out to people who understand the pressure of their role.
Caregivers can learn more about chemo at this special caregivers page.
Here are some things you can do right now to help create a support network for your chemo journey:
- Make a list of 5 people who may be able to help you.
- Call or email them about things they may be able to do to help out during treatments.
- Create a schedule based on your chemo cycles.
- Make sure you cover meals, car rides, shopping, child care, and other chores.
- If you have one caregiver, make sure to ask him or her to schedule in a rest once in a while.
- If you have a network, spread the tasks among loved ones and friends.
Joining a Group
Some individuals join groups to get support from others going through chemo. You can find a group that's right for you by calling a nearby hospital to see what cancer groups they house. Other sources for finding groups and services in your area include:
- The American Cancer Society
- The National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service
- CancerCare, Inc.
You can find a list of online clubs, chat rooms, support groups, and message boards at cancerlinks.com/online.
You may need to visit a support group more than once before you can tell if it's right for you. If you don't find one you like right away, keep trying. You'll find the one that fits your needs.
Some people who undergo chemo seek professional support. A counselor can assist your process by listening and helping you cope. Many emotions can come up during chemo. Some people feel fear or anger; others feel sad and lonely. Many cancer help lines and organizations keep a list of therapists with cancer experience who can help. You can call to find a referral in your area. Also, the Cancer Support Community provides free psychological and emotional support to people with cancer and their families. You can contact Cancer Support Community toll free at 1-888-793-WELL (9355).
The Chemotherapy and Infection Discussion Guide can help you understand your
risk of infection
Infection can be a serious side effect of strong chemo. Find out the factors that affect your risk of infection. Simply answer a few questions, and then print your results to share with your doctor.
Use the Chemotherapy and Infection Discussion Guide to find out more.