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For Everyone Touched By Cancer

What Not To Do While Having Chemotherapy

Written by Cancer Care Parcel on 
2nd March, 2024
Updated: 3rd March, 2024
Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

If you’re undergoing chemotherapy, you might be asking, ‘What can you not do while on chemo?’ Here, we cut straight to the chase, providing a list of activities and substances to steer clear of in order to support your treatment’s success. Expect straightforward advice on everything from dietary changes to lifestyle adjustments, without wading through medical jargon or fluff.

Key Takeaways

  • During chemotherapy, patients should avoid certain foods and beverages, limit exposure to infections and UV light, and adopt safety measures at home, including handling bodily fluids with care and following cleaning guidelines for spills.
  • Maintaining physical activity can help manage side effects and improve quality of life, but it’s important to consult with healthcare providers to ensure safe exercise routines.
  • After each chemotherapy session, careful aftercare is required, such as managing side effects and maintaining hygiene, and preparations should be made for life after the final session, including follow-up care and emotional support.
Understanding Chemotherapy Restrictions

Understanding Chemotherapy Restrictions

As you begin your chemotherapy journey, it’s crucial to recognize that the process involves more than just receiving chemotherapy drugs. It requires lifestyle adjustments that enhance the effectiveness of these drugs throughout your cancer treatment. For example, did you know steering clear of certain foods can lower infection risks? Or that reducing time in direct sunlight can alleviate potential skin sensitivity issues? Paying attention to such specifics is critically important.

The necessity for these lifestyle modifications arises because while chemotherapy treatments target cancer cells, they may also affect healthy cells in the process. Side effects like fatigue, nausea and a weakened immune system are common results of this impact on healthy cells. Fortunately, most side effects subside once you’ve completed your course of chemotherapy treatment. Understanding and adhering to these guidelines by tailoring your daily habits is instrumental in diminishing side effects and maximizing the efficacy of your cancer therapy.

Avoiding Certain Foods and Beverages

Ah, the joys of eating! We all relish a good meal, yet it’s important to know that when you’re undergoing chemotherapy treatment, your affinity for certain edibles must be tempered. This is due to the fact that some foods can serve as breeding grounds for dangerous bacteria which are especially threatening with an immune system compromised by chemotherapy.

Avoiding Certain Foods and Beverages

Items typically savored in their raw or not fully cooked state, such as sushi and sashimi, runny yolks from eggs and cheeses without pasteurization might have to temporarily disappear from your diet while you’re treated with chemotherapy. But fear not. This dietary change is only during the tenure of your treatment regime. After any contact with raw or undercooked foods, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands and sanitize every surface these foods may have touched so as to eliminate lurking germs.

Steering Clear of Infection Risks

Moving on to a critical element of chemotherapy safety, we must consider the importance of infection prevention. The administration of chemotherapy treatments can weaken your immune system, thereby reducing its ability to ward off illnesses. Consequently, it’s essential that you exercise heightened caution regarding your social interactions and environments—particularly during the phase of neutropenia which often ensues between seven to twelve days following each dose of chemotherapy.

Steering Clear of Infection Risks

Steer clear from close proximity with people who are ill with infections, and ensure to wear a mask in areas where crowds gather. Should you begin experiencing symptoms indicative of illness yourself, do not delay in reaching out to your healthcare provider—it is imperative that you prioritize your well-being at all times.

Limiting Exposure to Sun and UV Light

Did you know that individuals undergoing chemotherapy might encounter issues with sun and UV light exposure? Chemotherapy often heightens sensitivity in the skin and nails to sunlight, making it crucial for patients to take steps for protection.

It’s recommended to wear loose-fitting garments made from cotton or other natural materials. Pair these with a hat that has a wide brim and sunglasses during times when the sun is most intense. Applying sunscreen of at least SPF 30 is essential when you’re outside.

Steer clear of tanning beds while on chemotherapy treatments since they can amplify your UV light exposure significantly.

Limiting Exposure to Sun and UV Light

Managing Physical Activity

Moving on to a crucial component of your chemotherapy experience – it is essential to keep up with physical exercise. Indeed, remaining active throughout cancer treatment isn’t only possible, but also strongly advised! Engaging in continuous light or moderate exercises can benefit the health of your heart and enrich your overall well-being.

Incorporating movements such as stretching and yoga could enhance flexibility in your joints while assisting in the control of common treatment side effects like lethargy and nausea. Participating in regular physical activities may improve mental health by diminishing feelings of anxiety and depression. It’s important to ease into an exercise routine gently, gradually increasing its intensity with an emphasis on prioritizing safety and optimizing advantages.

Household Safety Measures

Ensuring that your home remains a safe haven is crucial while undergoing chemotherapy treatment. It’s imperative to introduce safety protocols within the household to minimize contact with chemotherapy drugs.

It is essential to don disposable waterproof gloves when coming into contact with any body fluids, and always wash hands thoroughly both prior and subsequent to using gloves. The availability of disposable waterproof gloves should be prioritized, so keeping them accessible is key. When handling items contaminated by these drugs—such as clothing or bedding—it’s critical they’re placed in a plastic bag until washing if immediate laundering isn’t possible.

Handling Bodily Fluids with Care

Throughout the course of your chemotherapy treatment, extra care is required when you handle bodily fluids since they may contain traces of chemotherapy drugs. It’s essential to use disposable gloves every time you come into contact with these fluids and ensure that you thoroughly wash your hands using soap and warm water before and after this process.

Any items such as adult diapers or sanitary pads that have been contaminated with body fluids should be discarded correctly to avoid any risk from exposure to chemotherapy drugs. In case of unintended contact with a chemotherapy drug, it’s important to promptly cleanse the affected area using ample amounts of soap and water.

Cleaning Guidelines for Spills

Accidents happen, and sometimes that includes spills involving chemotherapy drugs. It’s important not to get flustered, there are established protocols for dealing with such incidents. Begin the spill management by informing those around you, then proceed with the cleanup while wearing personal protective gear.

To thoroughly decontaminate after an initial clear-up, adhere to these instructions:

  1. Scrub down the affected area using hot water mixed with soap, removing any remnants of chemotherapy substances.
  2. Ensure that all equipment which may have come into contact is also cleaned meticulously.
  3. Afterward, responsibly discard any paper towels used during this process as well as disposable gloves contaminated during clean up in accordance with hazardous waste disposal guidelines.

Personal Habits to Adjust

Your personal practices play an essential role in enhancing the potency of your chemotherapy treatment. It is well-known that smoking can negatively affect the efficacy of chemotherapy drugs, so cessation becomes a crucial component of your therapy regimen, particularly in cases involving lung cancer.

Alcohol consumption may also disrupt your treatment process. Indeed, it has the potential to worsen side effects such as nausea and dehydration. Avoiding alcohol while undergoing chemotherapy is advisable. Keep in mind these lifestyle modifications are short-term sacrifices designed to support your health during cancer treatment.

We will now turn our attention to a key aspect of your daily life that should remain consistent throughout your chemotherapy treatment, maintaining social ties. It’s important to keep in touch with family and friends as their support can be instrumental in managing the emotional toll cancer takes on you. Be mindful, Balance your activities and rest. If an evening out is planned, make sure you have time for rest during the day.

It’s crucial not to let chemotherapy become a barrier between you and others. Communicate openly about what you’re going through with someone reliable – whether it’s a partner, family members, close friends or healthcare professionals. The comfort drawn from loved ones or participation in support groups offers immense emotional aid that can significantly assist patients dealing with both the psychological demands of cancer treatment and its physical management.

Dietary Considerations for Side Effects

Diving deeper into the changes one can make to their diet, it’s important to recognize that particular foods may exacerbate mouth sores, which are a common side effect of chemotherapy. Your dietary choices can play an essential role in controlling these adverse reactions.

The focus isn’t solely on avoiding certain items. Adding appropriate types of fiber to your meals is beneficial for cellular rejuvenation and sustaining healthy gut flora – both of which are particularly vital for those undergoing chemotherapy who might have compromised digestive health.

Addressing Mouth Soreness

Soreness in the mouth is often a distressing side effect of chemotherapy, but it can be mitigated with appropriate dietary selections. It’s suggested to consume foods that are:

  • Gentle and smooth on the palate, such as cream-based soups
  • Various cheeses
  • Yogurt
  • Ice cream

These options may help ease discomfort and provide some respite.

Steer clear of acidic food items like citrus fruits, which have the potential to exacerbate mouth sores. As an alternative, favor calming cold treats including popsicles or apple sauce. The choices you make regarding your diet play a significant role in managing side effects associated with chemotherapy treatments.

Digestive Health and Fiber Management

Fiber plays a pivotal role in maintaining digestive health while undergoing chemotherapy, and choosing the appropriate kind of fiber is crucial for gut well-being.

Should constipation become an issue, eating high-fiber foods like whole wheat, bran, and oats can be beneficial. Conversely, should diarrhea present itself during chemotherapy treatment sessions, adhering to a diet that includes low-to-moderate amounts of fiber might aid in managing this symptom effectively. Ensuring your digestive system remains healthy can lead to improved compliance with prescribed chemotherapy protocols.

Emotional Well-being and Support Services

Managing the physical side effects of cancer treatment is as crucial as navigating through the emotional challenges that accompany it. Emotional well-being and support services play a pivotal role in this aspect, offering various forms of assistance such as:

  • Economic aid
  • Support gatherings
  • Psychological counseling
  • Dedicated services for post-cancer care

To alleviate emotional tension, engaging in tranquil pursuits can be beneficial. These activities encompass:

  • Journaling feelings
  • Taking strolls
  • Engaging with music
  • Practicing mindfulness and meditation techniques

Should you encounter difficulty in verbalizing your emotions, consider becoming part of self-help groups or virtual networks that provide emotional backing.

Precautions with Medications and Supplements

The safety of chemotherapy treatment is not solely dependent on changes to diet and lifestyle. It also hinges on being cautious with the use of other medications and supplements you might consider taking. To prevent any possible adverse interactions with chemotherapy drugs, it’s imperative that you always check in with your cancer care team before starting any new medication or dietary supplement.

Be aware that numerous herbs, dietary supplements, and antioxidants might interfere in ways that are not fully understood when combined with chemotherapy drugs. They could potentially diminish their potency or exacerbate toxicity levels.

In situations where nutrient deficiencies are identified, incorporating dietary supplements may become essential but should only be done under the vigilant supervision of healthcare professionals.

Aftercare Following Each Treatment Session

Post-treatment care is a crucial element of every chemotherapy session. Adhering to particular post-care instructions, which include upholding excellent hygiene practices, meticulous management of body fluids, and addressing adverse reactions, can enhance your well-being and ease.

Should there be an incident of vomiting, it’s important to promptly sanitize any affected areas and double-flush the toilet in order to properly deal with possible contamination caused by the chemotherapy drugs. Bear in mind that each small measure you adopt aids in making your chemotherapy treatment more successful and reduces stress associated with the process.

Preparing for the Final Chemotherapy Session

As you approach your last chemotherapy session, it is vital to understand what lies ahead and make the necessary preparations. This includes being aware of possible side effects, organizing post-treatment care, and adapting to life after therapy – because the journey doesn’t conclude with the final treatment.

It’s essential to continue follow-up care involving scans, blood tests, and routine visits that will help in monitoring for any signs of cancer recurrence or new cancers like breast cancer. Adapting to post-chemotherapy life can be aided by engaging with support groups, connecting with fellow survivors or taking advantage of survivorship clinics as well as using resources provided by entities such as the National Cancer Institute or the NHS.


This indispensable manual offers comprehensive insights into the chemotherapy journey, detailing what to expect in terms of limitations during treatment, how to handle exercise, modify personal routines and gear up for the concluding chemotherapy session. K

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the restrictions during chemotherapy?

While undergoing chemotherapy, it’s crucial to steer clear of alcohol and uncooked foods to reduce the risk of infections. One should abstain from probiotic supplements and food items containing them.

It is imperative to always seek advice from your medical practitioner regarding personalized guidelines.

What is the 7 day rule in chemotherapy?

Typically, it’s advised against postponing chemotherapy beyond a week unless there are extraordinary circumstances that pose an imminent risk to life. Brief postponements of up to 7 days might be permissible in order to avoid severe toxic effects, particularly for patients who are considered low-risk (a delay of no more than 7 days per cycle is deemed acceptable).

Can I go out while on chemo?

If you feel strong enough, venturing out into public spaces during chemotherapy can be fine. It’s important to remember that your immune system is compromised due to the treatment. This can make it more difficult for your body to ward off infections.

Exercise caution when around others and, if deemed appropriate, don a mask as an extra precautionary measure.

Can I do housework during chemotherapy?

If you’re experiencing fatigue or ill health while undergoing chemotherapy, it’s advisable to prioritize rest. Should you opt to engage in household chores, adhere to simple guidelines designed to maintain a hygienic environment and reduce the risk of coming into contact with germs.

What foods should I avoid during chemotherapy?

To minimize the chance of contracting a foodborne disease during chemotherapy, steer clear of consuming fish that is raw or not fully cooked, eggs that are soft-cooked, and cheeses made from unpasteurized milk.

Further reading

What Is Chemotherapy And Why Is It Given To People With Cancer?

Don't Miss Out On Freebies and Discounts For People On Chemo

68 Best Gifts For Chemo Patients

Chemo Hair Loss: Understanding and Coping with a Common Side Effect of Cancer Treatment

Cooking For Chemotherapy: By Chef Ryan Callahan

Products and gifts for chemotherapy patients

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