How to mentally prepare for chemotherapy

Insights and tips from our Facebook community on preparing for chemotherapy treatment

Chemotherapy affects everyone differently. How you feel during your treatment and which side effects you experience will depend on many different things, such as the type of cancer you have, the type of chemotherapy and any other treatments you receive, and your own personal health.

Although many people are able to stay positive, starting treatment can be scary. Chemotherapy saves lives, but there are also many possible side effects and it’s natural to worry about how you will cope.

We asked our Facebook community how they mentally prepared themselves for chemotherapy. Here’s some of the thoughts and tips they shared:

1. Take one day at a time and try not to worry. While there can be many side effects, that doesn’t mean you will get them

2. Treat chemotherapy like your friend. Remember that the chemotherapy is helping you to fight your cancer. Try to embrace your treatment

3. Remember that although chemotherapy can be tough, it won’t last forever and is delivered to make you better. This experience will pass – it might be hard, but it is do-able

4. Prepare yourself. Making sure you have all the information about what to expect during your treatment can help ease your stress, so read all the information you are given – especially the information from your nurses

5. Celebrate the little wins. Take one day at a time and try to control only what you can

6. Keep a diary and write down all your negative feelings and thoughts. For many people, it can help to unload these feelings into a journal rather than verbalising them

7. Keep your sense of humour. Making light of different situations can help you stay positive

8. Plan a little reward for yourself when you reach each milestone. This can help you stay focused on different goals and celebrate reaching them

9. Try to think of it as a journey – one that you will come out of at the other end

Once your treatment is underway, you may like to consider some strategies to keep your energy and your spirits up. Our Facebook community gave the following advice on ways to cope during chemotherapy treatment:

  • Be actively involved in your treatment. Ask your care team lots of questions
  • Have plenty of fluids and snacks within easy reach during treatment. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
  • Ask for and accept offers of help
  • Rest when you need to. Have some ‘me time’ and don’t feel guilty about it
  • Keep all your reports and paperwork in a folder that you can refer to whenever you need to
  • Make extra batches of food when you can and freeze some meals for times when you don’t feel like cooking
  • Exercise to help with treatment and recovery. Even if you’re feeling tired, you’ll feel better afterwards
  • Keep busy on the off days. If you’re feeling good, do what you can do but be careful not to overdo things
  • Be kind to yourself. Rest, sleep, exercise on good days and focus on the little things that bring you joy
  • Don’t be afraid to seek additional support when needed. Your care team can put you in touch with allied health professionals who are here to support you from diagnosis through to treatment and beyond

Finding support

At Icon, we will walk with you throughout each step of your chemotherapy treatment. Before you start chemotherapy, our team will discuss any possible side effects with you and how to identify and manage them to ensure you have the best possible experience throughout your cancer treatment. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need further support. We are here for you.

If you or your loved one is starting chemotherapy, we have a number of different resources to help you understand what to expect and how to prepare for treatment.

Learn more.

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