Social life and activities during chemotherapy
This page is about how cancer treatment can affect your social life and holidays. You can find the following information
During chemotherapy you may not always be able to do everything you would normally take for granted. But you don't need to put your social life on hold completely. There's no reason to stop going out or visiting friends. You may just need to plan ahead a bit more.
This means thinking about things such as taking anti sickness tablets before you go out for a meal, checking with your doctor about whether you can drink alcohol and resting during the day if you tire easily and want to go out in the evening.
You do need to avoid people with infections, including children who have diseases such as chicken pox. Your doctor may advise you and your family to have the seasonal flu vaccine to reduce your risk of getting flu. Talk to your specialist about the best time to have the vaccination.
Many people like to plan a holiday for the end of their treatment. Our travelling and cancer section has information about how to plan and get the most out of your holiday, including information about vaccinations and how travelling may affect you.
You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the living with chemotherapy section.
During chemotherapy you may not always be able to do the things you take for granted. But you don't need to stop your social life completely. There's no reason to stop going out or visiting friends. You may just find you need to plan ahead a bit more.
- If you're going out at night it can help to get some rest during the day – you'll have more energy for the evening
- If you think you need to, you can take some anti sickness tablets before you go out for a meal
- Drinking a little alcohol probably won't affect most types of chemotherapy – but check with your doctor before you drink
- To avoid getting an infection always eat freshly cooked food and avoid having raw meat, fish, eggs, soft cheese and take away foods
- If you have an important social event coming up – ask your doctor whether your treatment can be arranged so that you are between chemotherapy treatments that week.
Although you should be able to do pretty much as you like, it makes sense to avoid family or friends who have infections. For example, you should avoid people who may have chicken pox. Let your doctor know if you think you have been in contact with someone who could have chicken pox.
You should not have any live vaccines while having chemotherapy. It is safe for you to be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections. But there can be problems with live vaccines you take by mouth (oral vaccines). Babies are given the live rotavirus vaccine by mouth as part of the NHS vaccination programme. The vaccine contains a very weakened form of the rotavirus. There may be traces of the virus in the baby's poo for about 2 weeks after they've had the vaccine. So in theory, you could pick up the infection. The general advice is to be particularly careful about handwashing during this time, and avoid changing the baby's nappy if possible. Your doctor or chemotherapy nurse can talk to you about this.
Your doctor may advise you and your family to have the seasonal flu vaccine to reduce your risk of getting flu. It is important to have the flu jab before the virus starts to circulate in the population. This is most likely to happen during the winter months. If you are in the middle of chemotherapy treatment, you should talk to your specialist about the best time to have the vaccination. Your immune system is weaker when you’re having chemotherapy, which means the vaccine may not work quite so well. Your specialist will tell you when it is best to have a flu jab to get the greatest chance of protection. You can find out more about having the flu vaccine and cancer in the question and answer section.
Many people like to plan a holiday for the end of their treatment. It is something to mark the end of your chemotherapy and something to look forward to. Hopefully it will allow you to rest and begin to get back to normal. But there are a few extra things you need to think about. The travelling and cancer section has information about how to plan and get the most out of your holiday including information about
- How travelling may affect you
- Potential risk of infection and blood clots
- Travel insurance
You may enjoy your trip more if you wait for a few weeks after your last treatment. Some people find the end of their treatment quite difficult. Although you will be pleased the treatment is at an end, it can feel quite strange to start focusing on other things again. It is up to you, but waiting a few weeks may give you some time to adjust back into normal home life with a holiday to look forward to. You can then go off on holiday without worrying about how you will cope when you get home.
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