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What happens now? Life after chemotherapy

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For the past several weeks/months you have had a tight schedule of clinical appointments, blood tests, and treatment days. Many people experience a feeling of accomplishment when they finish chemotherapy treatment followed by the unsettling feeling of: what happens now?

You will not be left alone: your Oncology team will continue to support you.

Always tired?

Try to sleep by going to bed and getting up about the same time every day. Unwind before bedtime by avoiding using glaring screens, take a relaxing bath/shower or listen to music. Create time in your day to Rest. Plan ahead and pace yourself so you can save energy. Why not ask for support? Your family and friends may be able and willing to help you with food shopping, house chores, the schools run. Speak to your GP for more advice.

How are you feeling?

Dealing with cancer is challenging. Talking to a close friend or keeping a diary can help but sometimes it can be useful to link into emotional support that focuses on specific needs. The Horizon Centre offers links into Counseling, Coaching and Mindfulness Meditation which may be helpful (see below for contact details).

Keep moving....

Exercise can balance your energy levels and help you feel less tired as well as improving your emotions and general wellbeing. Start with gentle walking and under the guidance of your GP and /or community physiotherapist gradually increase the intensity. Why not look in to Brighter Outlook for personalized physical activity. Link to Brighter Outlook:

The Horizon Centre also offers links into getting active and exercise.

Mouth care

A month after chemotherapy completing chemotherapy resume your regular visits to the dentist and your preferred toothbrush and mouth wash.

Intimacy and sexuality

Sex is an important part of life and at times not sufficiently discussed. It is important you do not try to conceive without discussing it with your Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) and/or your Consultant (see contacts). It will be important to discuss with them what contraception you should use and for how long.

Eat well

After a few weeks your taste buds will return to normal and after a month you can go back to eating unpasteurized foods (for example, blue cheese).Keep well hydrated. Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. Eat a balanced diet. You can develop your skills with the Macmillan Horizon Centre cooking workshops or discuss specific concerns with your CNS who can direct you to the Dietician or your GP.

Look good, feel better!

Once chemotherapy has finished your hair will start to re-grow. It can grow back a slightly different colour and texture. Try not to colour your hair for about six months but if you do choose to colour your hair, avoid using dyes with peroxide or ammonia. Ask your hairdresser to use henna dye or vegetable based dye. Your nails may have some level of discoloration or thickening but this will slowly improve. For dry skin, keep applying unscented moisturizers. Avoid mid-day sun and protect yourself with high factor sun cream.

What do I do if I feel unwell?

For up to six weeks after finishing your treatment if you feel unwell please use your red card and ring: 01273 696955 Ext.64799 Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm or Ext.64051/64738 night time and weekends.

Keep your HEAT card with you.After six weeks your body’s immune system should have returned to normal and any signs of infection can be treated by your GP. If needed, call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency. NHS 111 is a fast and easy way to get the right help, whatever the time.

The path to wellbeing is continuous, it didn’t start now and it has not finished with the chemotherapy treatment.

Take a moment to reevaluate your needs and how you can fulfill them.

For follow up clinical appointments

Sussex Cancer Centre

Out-Patients Reception 01273 664968

For specific advice on Exercise, Diet, Emotional support, Financial support, Complementary therapies contact the Clinical Nurse Specialist (Macmillan Nurse).

Email the Horizon Centre:

Tel: 01273 468770

Disclaimer: The information in this leaflet is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.


Publication Date: September 2018

Review Date: October 2022

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