Chemotherapy and You

A Guide to Self-Help During Treatment

National Institutes of Health
National Cancer Institute

This guide will help you, your family, and your friends understand chemotherapy, the use of drugs to treat cancer. It will answer many of the questions you may have about this method of cancer treatment. It also will show you how you can help yourself during chemotherapy.

Taking care of yourself during chemotherapy is important for several reasons. For one thing, it can lessen some of the physical side effects you may have from your treatment. As you will see, some simple tips can make a big difference in how you feel. But the benefits of self-help aren't just physical; they're psychological, too. Knowing some ways to take care of yourself can give your emotions a boost at a time when you may be feeling that much of what's happening to you is out of your control. This feeling can be easier to deal with when you discover how you can contribute to your own well-being, in partnership with your doctors and nurses.

Chemotherapy and You will help you become an informed partner in your care. Remember, though, it is only a guide. Self-help is never a substitute for professional medical care. Be sure to ask your doctor and nurse any questions about chemotherapy, and tell them about any side effects you may have.

You will find several helpful sections in this guide. "Paying for Chemotherapy" gives you information about insurance and other payment methods. "Resources" tells you how to get more information about cancer and to locate services available to cancer patients and their families. Words printed in bold can be clicked on to see definitions in the "Glossary." The "Glossary" explains many terms related to cancer and chemotherapy.

A free series of fact sheets on anticancer drugs is available from the National Cancer Institute. (See "Resources." )

1. Understanding Chemotherapy

2. Coping With Side Effects

3. Eating Well During Chemotherapy

4. Talking With Your Doctor and Nurse

5. Chemotherapy and Your Emotions

6. Paying for Chemotherapy

7. A Final Word

8. Resources

9. Glossary

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