Practical Information for Patients having Chemotherapy

During your treatment you may find that your driving is adversely affected. The illness, its treatment and the medications you take can all affect your concentration.

Driving is possible for most people with cancer, but please check with your doctor first.

Please refer to your car insurance policy in case you need to inform your insurers of medical conditions.

If you have any questions, ask your consultant or phone the DVLC Medical Advisory Branch on 01792 783686.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea produces an information leaflet (Form D100) called "What you need to know about driving licences". You can obtain a copy at the Post Office.

If you wish to take a holiday it is important ,that you discuss your plans with your doctor. There may be certain restrictions or limitations of your treatment that require discussion, such as vaccinations, choice of country and holiday insurance.

The Department of Social Security also produce a booklet called "Health Advice for Travellers" (T4).

See the Travel and Holidays section of the Cancer Information Services Website for more information.

Going back to work, school or college
Your return to work depends on how quickly you recover and what your job entails. People with desk jobs that are perhaps less tiring and do not put them at such a high risk from infection, may wish to continue with work in between courses of chemotherapy. However, people with manual jobs, mentally stressful jobs or jobs in which there is a high risk of infection, (e.g. school teachers, nurses or those dealing with the general public) may need to spend a longer time away from work. It may be a good idea to return to work on a part-time basis initially, as it can take some months before you return to full fitness.

If you are at school or college, it may be possible to continue some of your studies at home. If you are unsure about when to return to work or college, the doctors will be able to advise you.

If being away from work is causing financial difficulties or there is a possibility that you may lose your job, please ask to speak to the ward social worker or contact the Citizens' Advice Bureau. There may be benefits that you are entitled to because of your illness.

The ward will be able to supply you with sick certificates for your employer throughout your treatment. It may be difficult to pick up the pieces of your life after treatment, especially when all treatment finishes.

Talking to the staff at the hospital can help and / or join!ng a self-help group, where you can meet and share experiences with people in the same position. Self-help groups can be contacted through Cancer BACUP on 0800 181199, the Leukaemia Care Society on 0208 4050101 and the Hodgkins Disease and Lymphoma Associaion on 0808 808 5555.

Fertility and Sexuality

  • It is quite safe for you to have sexual intercourse in between courses of chemotherapy, providing your partner is well and has no infections.
  • It is important for you, or your partner, not to get pregnant whilst you are undergoing treatment so please take adequate contraceptive precautions. For women, the intra-uterine device and the cap should not be used because of the infection risk.
  • Women may find that they experience vaginal dryness. If this occurs then you may use K-Y jelly as a substitute.
  • If your platelet count is low, it is important to be gentle and report any unusual bleeding to your doctor or specialist nurse.
  • For women who are pre-menopausal, medication will be prescribes to stop your menstrual periods while your platelet count is low.

Talking to a counsellor experienced in cancer issues can ease the sense of isolation you may feel and help you to find ways to face the challenges ahead.

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