Take Charge

Chemotherapy Checklist: Tips from Our Patients

January 29, 2018


Chemotherapy - one of the most common treatments for cancer - uses powerful medications to kill the fast-growing cells in your body. Treatment can sometimes span several hours, days, or weeks but varies based on the cancer type and stage. We went straight to the source and polled our patients on social media to get their best tips for preparing, passing the time, and taking care of themselves while undergoing chemotherapy. Here’s what our patients suggested: 

Find a distraction

  • Bring a book, magazine or tablet. Free wireless internet access is available.
  • Listen to music with headphones (create a special playlist).
  • Bring gum, mints, hard candy and snacks. Moffitt provides drinks, soups and snacks as well as meals for patients scheduled to be in infusion during traditional meal times.
  • Bring a travel board game or puzzle.
  • Find a show to watch and look forward to.

Get as comfortable as you’d like – and relax

  • Wear warm, comfortable clothes.
  • Breathe deeply – before, during and after!
  • Bring warm, fuzzy socks.
  • Bring (or request) a blanket and/or pillow. Moffitt provides pillows and blankets to patients.
  • Clear your mind, meditate, or try to sleep.

Bring (or make) a friend

  • Ask a friend or family member to accompany you and drive you to and from appointments.
  • Don’t be afraid to open up and talk to those around you – they know what you’re going through.
  • Make friends with your nurses and keep the lines of communication open – let them know if something doesn’t feel right.
  • Join a support group.

Focus on the positive

  • Know that each treatment is bringing you closer to the “finish.”
  • Trust your medical team, but ask questions and be your own advocate.
  • Bring a small album with photos of loved ones and favorite places to look at to build determination.
  • Keep a journal to track your chemo treatments and feelings during and after treatment.

Be well-informed and know what to expect

  • Attend Patient and Family Orientation.
  • Ask friends and family who have gone through chemo what to expect.
  • Speak to your medical team to find out what side effects are common with the chemotherapy drugs you’ll be receiving.
  • Ask your doctors and nurses for recommendations for handling the side effects.

Nourish your body

  • Sometimes chemotherapy results in nausea and/or loss of appetite. Be sure to eat a full, balanced meal before treatments.
  • Stay hydrated before, during and after treatments. Try fruit-infused water or sports drinks if plain water is distasteful.
  • Some chemo treatments can cause constipation, so eat foods rich in fiber or ask your care team if a stool softener is right for you.
  • Keep a food diary to track which foods and drinks might be causing you additional side effects following chemo.

Learn more about the Infusion Center at Moffitt Cancer Center or watch our video to learn more about how to prepare and what to expect during your appointments. Infusion services are available at our main Infusion Center at the Magnolia Campus, as well as at Moffitt Cancer Center at International Plaza, 4101 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa, and our McKinley Outpatient Center, 10920 N. McKinley Drive, Tampa.