What can I do to take care of myself during chemo?

During your chemo, take extra care of yourself. Your cancer care team will give you tips on how to do this. But here are some basic things you should do:

  • Get plenty of rest. You may feel more tired than normal during treatment. Give yourself time for rest breaks when you need them.
  • Eat healthy foods. It’s important for your body to get enough protein and calories to make new healthy cells that it lost during treatment. Your doctor, nurse, or dietitian (die-uh-TISH-un) may work with you to make sure you are eating the right foods to get what you need. If you have trouble eating or don’t feel like eating, talk to your cancer care team.
  • Get exercise and fresh air if your doctor says you can. Exercise can help reduce stress and tiredness, and can help you feel like eating. Check with your doctor about your exercise plan to make sure it’s OK.
  • Ask your cancer care team about alcohol. Small amounts of beer or wine may help you relax and help you feel hungry. But alcohol can cause problems with some chemo drugs. Your team can tell you if it’s OK to drink.
  • Check with your cancer care team before taking vitamins or supplements. There is no “magic” diet, herb, or substance that can cure cancer, no matter what anyone claims. If you already take vitamins or supplements, tell your doctor what you take and ask if it’s OK to keep taking them.
  • Keep thinking about the treatment goals. Dealing with chemo can be hard. A good way to handle the effects of chemo is to remind yourself why you’re getting it.
  • Learn more about your cancer and treatment. The more you know, the better you will be able to cope.
  • Take time to enjoy your hobbies. Doing the things you like to do can help you cope with chemo.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: March 15, 2016 Last Revised: March 15, 2016

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