May 29, 2024

How to Prepare For Chemotherapy

Man preparing for chemotherapy with a doctor

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses powerful drugs to kill cancer cells. It’s the right option for many cancer patients as it can destroy fast-growing cancer cells effectively.

Chemotherapy drugs typically produce significant side effects in patients. Consequently, it’s essential to understand how treatment will affect your body and be prepared for its impact on your health, work, and home life. Preparing for chemotherapy (often shortened to chemo) helps minimize the side effects and maximize its effectiveness.

Tips for Physically Preparing for Chemotherapy

One crucial aspect of preparing for chemo is getting your body ready for treatment. Here are some areas to focus on:


Eating a healthy diet before, during, and after chemo will give your body the nutrition it needs to fight cancer. Consuming the right foods can also improve your energy level and how you feel during treatment. Your care team can provide information on preparing for a “chemo diet.” It’s a good idea to stock up on healthy, non-perishable foods as you’re getting ready for chemo and make arrangements for someone to shop for you if you aren’t up for it during treatment.


Getting enough physical activity is good for your body and mind as you are preparing for chemo. Strengthening your heart, lungs, muscles, and immune system will serve you well as your treatment progresses.

Medical preparations

Your doctor may order tests to assess kidney, liver, and heart function to confirm your body is ready for chemotherapy. They may also modify your existing medication regimens. It’s important to follow their instructions. You should also connect with your pharmacy as a chemotherapy preparation in case your doctor prescribes medication to help with the side effects.

Hair loss

Chemo drug preparations can cause your hair to fall out. As you’re preparing for chemotherapy, you should consider how you want to manage that side effect. Some people cut their hair short or shave their heads. You may also want to purchase a wig or other head coverings.

Emotional and Mental Preparation

Getting ready for chemotherapy should also involve preparing for the mental and emotional challenges. Treatment can help you reach a positive outcome, but getting there can tax you and your family. Consider the following as you prepare:

Stress management

Fighting cancer can be stressful, but there are actions you can take to reduce your anxiety. For example, you can prepare for chemotherapy by starting a meditation or prayer practice, learning about mindfulness (a technique involving staying focused on the present moment), working with a therapist, etc.

Support systems

The support of family and friends can help make cancer treatment more bearable. In preparing for chemotherapy, an essential tip is to reestablish or strengthen connections with loved ones. Many cancer patients also join organized support groups.

Setting realistic expectations

Despite your best efforts, chemotherapy will likely challenge you physically, mentally, and emotionally. So, it’s essential to go into treatment with realistic expectations about the process and the outcome. One of the best things you can do is “take things one day at a time.”

Practical and Logistical Considerations

Chemotherapy will probably disrupt your day-to-day life. You can reduce the effects of disruptions by taking specific steps as you prepare for chemo:

Work and finances

It’s crucial to talk with your employer about the impact of your chemotherapy treatment. Conversations should cover the need for time off, any accommodations they can make in your work environment or schedule, etc. It’s also helpful to assess your financial situation and how best to address any costs related to your treatment that insurance doesn’t cover.

Transportation and accommodations

It’s vital to have assistance getting to and from your chemotherapy treatments. If you don’t have family or friends who can help you, your care team may be able to direct you to other resources. If the cancer treatment location is far from your home, you may want to look into overnight accommodations.

Organizing home life

When preparing for chemotherapy, you should consider how it will affect any tasks you typically handle at home—childcare, cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc. Whether you lean on family and friends or leverage outside services, you’ll want to have a plan in place before you start your chemo treatments.

Preparing your home

Optimizing your home for comfort and convenience during chemotherapy helps make the process easier. Where will you rest after treatments? What items will you want to have close at hand as you recover? It’s crucial to consider these types of questions.

Prepare for Chemotherapy

Preparing for chemotherapy helps ensure you have the best possible experience during this challenging time. The above information and conversations with your care team will help you get ready for chemo.

To determine if you have other health concerns that will affect your treatment, complete your health assessments now.

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