Going / been thru through chemo & live alone?

I’m looking for advice / tips about getting through chemo when you live on your own. I can’t be the only one in this situation!
I have a good circle of friends who have come with me to all the appointments (not all at once :wink: )and I have the promise of lifts to and from the chemo. My sister and mother live 300 miles away, and they aren’t in a position to do much more than phone support. If she can organise respite care for my father, my mother hopes to come up to stay for a few days at the first treatment. (I start FEC-T somewhere between 20-26 June. Been told it’s likely to be at the end of that period.)
If you’ve been through this I’d love to hear about practical ways you supported yourself, and things you wish you’d thought of in advance!
many thanks

Bumping this up for you Gus, please also feel free to call our helpline on 0808 800 6000 to talk things through as they can provide practical and emotional support, open weekdays 9-5 and Sat 10-2

Take care


Hi Gussie

Although I don’t live alone, I am currently going through chemo and I’m part of the June Jewels thread and it would be great if you would join us since you will be going through chemo at the same time.

We will all offer you as much support as you need (virtually of course) however, I am sure there are some ladies in the group which are also going through this alone.

Take care
Martha xxx

Hi Gus
I live on my own and went through chemo alone. I made sure I researched beforehand on various over the counter medications that I might need and made sure I had them in before I started. I also had some ready meals prepared in the freezer.

I had someone take and pick me up from chemo so I didn’t have to drive.

I only had one bad experience when I was very sick during the night and had to call the emergency doctor out to give me an injection and I did want someone with me during that night so it is good if you can have someone who you can call on, day or night if necessary.

I found I needed to sleep most of the time for the first few days, chemo really knocked me out, so it was good to be on my own as I could just do as I wanted and didn’t have the pressure of trying to look after family etc.

As most people find by week three of each cycle I felt back to normal and could do all the housework I had neglected in the previous weeks!

Hope this gives you some reassurance that you will be ok. Oh and keeping in touch with others going through treatment at the same time through joining one of the threads on this forum is invaluable.

Good luck

@MarthaSOS - thank you - I’m there already! :wink:
@Pam - it’s good to hear how you got on. I’ve started my list of things to buy at Boots. The thing I am most scared about is being ill alone at night and realising I need to get medical help. But logically it’s no worse than in the day! Not that logic comes into this much… THANK YOU.

Yes at night things always seem much worse

As I said it is good to have someone who can come if you need them. I had already called the doctor but just felt so wretched that I needed someone with me. My son lives half an hour drive so he came over and stayed the night. But if your family are too far away perhaps a friend could be on standby? Hopefully you will never need them. x

Gussie- hi, I had a mastectomy, live alone ( having moved into scruffy house I planned to do up 2 weeks prior to diagnosis). I have friends on hand but family live so far away- and sister also having treatment at same time for breast cancer So we could not be with each other. The nights are long but I just finished 6 cycles of TC treatment. I got lifts to all sessions. I kept water with me at all times and had the radio close to hand at night. It’s just one moment at a time. I also had a code text- a dude alert which meant I really needed help of friends rather than get here if your passing. I only needed it once . I managed on my own with surgery, drains, snow ( and a years supply of kleenex) as a few tears now and again are a food thing. Good luck. Thinking of you! V

Hi Gussie,
I don’t exactly live alone, but practically I do.
My 16 year old sons are autistic, one quite severly and my husband works on oil rigs and is away for the whole of June into July, and then he is usually home for 16 days and home for 10. So you see I have to be very self sufficient. my boys would not be able to cope in a crises and, one night last week I was in pain from a reaction to one of the drugs and at 5 in the morning had to call the oncology helpline. I then had to arrange for a friend to pick up hardcore painkillers as soon as the pharmacy at 8. Also the helpline people arranged for one of my GPs to phone and I was given a priority appt. My boys were completely unaware that anything had happened.
i have had to call the helpline twice, the first time was a couple of hours after chemo, but outside of surgrery hours I had taken all the anti this and that but then promptly threw them up and kept throwing up. I called the onc helpline and they arranged for a Dr to come and see me as I could not leave the house for all the vomiting.
The chemo team when you meet them will give you lots of advice on what to expect and how to cope, they will give you all the emergency numbers.
Do make sure that you are registered for free prescriptions, and have an arrangement with your local pharmacy about delivery.
You should have someone with you to take you home after chemo and stay overnight with you, a friend if not your mother.
If you join the June Jewels chemo group and read the old posts you will see that I have had pretty much all the side effects going and they started within a couple of hours. Others either got hit later or haven’t had them hardly at all.
my tips would be to have all the important contact numbers on speed dial but upfront the helpline or out of hours service that will be your first call.they should give you that when you go for chemo. If you have landline put in those as well. Have a bumbag always on and put your phone and a list of what drugs you are on in there, together with a thermometer. You can guarantee IF you have a reaction and are ill it will be when you have put your phone somewhere, And cant remember where your thermometer is. Also have your most supportive and reliable friend as your safety net. Give that person the same list of important contacts and drugs. Agree with that friend that if you are only able to make one very short phone call it is to them in an emergency and they will call whoever you need for you.
In the unlikely event that you have a really severe reaction never hesitate to call an ambulance.
I hope I haven’t scared you, because chances are it won’t get that bad for you. But my current mantra is “expect nothing and be prepared for anything”

Hi Gussie
I also live alone and went through chemo in 2011. I made sure I had easy meals in freezer and lots of goodies in cupboards!! Only had one night of throwing up when started second regime and felt very sorry for my self although the dog kept me company in the bathroom!!! I had lots of friends and family who were a phone call away but really didnt ever need to phone them in the night. I worked through my chemo although only part time and found that helped as it got me out of the house and helped me feel a bit more “normal” but I know that is not practical for a lot of people.
I would just say make sure you have people on hand if you do need them, I am sure you will have lots of people who will offer their help USE THEM!! It is not weak to ask for help.
Take care

Dear Gus,

So sorry that you find yourself here. But if you’re anything like me, this forum will be an invaluable source of support over the coming weeks.

Having had a look at your profile, just felt I had to respond. I too was widowed last year, then diagnosed with BC in November. 2012 really wasn’t a good year for some of us! I also have no family locally. I coped fine through surgery, with the help of some close friends, but when the treatment plan was unexpectedly changed to include chemo, I was terrified that it might all be too much for me on my own.

I am now post chemo (just) and would like to reassure you that it is doable. It’s a long slog and at times soul-destroying. But it can be done. You’ve had lots of good advice already and I would reiterate that planning ahead is the best thing (meals, meds, treats, books etc.), as well as making the most of any “good” days in your chemo cycles.

A friend very kindly came with me to every chemo appointment – but apart from that I have managed on my own. We all respond differently to chemo and, I’m afraid, until you start, you won’t know how you will be affected. Your chemo unit will provide you with numbers to call if you are unwell. It’s also worth making sure your GP knows when you are starting as you may find you need additional medication for some side effects.

Be kind to yourself, take one day at a time and try not to worry about the unknown (sometimes easier said than done). Let your friends know what you need. There will be some who are comfortable with offering the practical stuff, when all you really want is someone to talk to! One great source of support came from the February Valentines. All in the same boat, sharing our experiences, supporting each other throughout. If you can join the June Jewels (or the July group if your start date drifts) you will be in the best of company.

Wishing you all the very best for a minimal side-effect chemo.
Take care,

Hi Gussie
I’m also on the June Jewels thread, starting T-Fec on June 27th. I have teenage children who sometimes stay with me and sometimes not, but no partner and have learnt to be self-sufficient. I’m not looking forward to doing this (who is??!!) and I do wish that there was someone there who would bring me tea in bed from time to time!. However, I’m unlikely to meet Mr Right (or indeed Mr Wrong!) between now and the 27th so I guess I’ll be going it alone!! Please feel free to PM me if you’d like to swap numbers for middle of the night support!
Take care

Cress x

Hi Gussie, great to all our lovely ladies doing what they do best…give great advice. The only thing I would add to this thread is to buy the best digital / tempanic thermometer you can afford. The taking of your temperature twice a day is really really important. Even if your temperature is not that high, listen to your body. If its telling you it’s not wellcontact your oncology unit early. This will also give you time to organise things for the children. Good luck, it’s not the easiest road to travel, but it’s a well worn road. Xx

Dear everyone: thank you for all this wonderful advice! It’s really reassuring to hear that I’m not the only person doing this solo (however we define that :wink: - I take the broadest view).
Gus x

Hi Gus - I did chemo/surgery/rads while living alone - I think it helped keep me from infections and colds, as I could keep away from germs very easily! I did turn into a bit of a hermit in chemo week, but in the ‘good’ week I made up for it by going out a lot and having lots of visitors. I kept in touch with work, visiting them in my good weeks and keeping up with email the rest of the time.
I kept enough cash with me to pay for a taxi to hospital in an emergency, and a phone was always within reach at night. I only had to call an emergency number once - at 2am when I was convinced I had a blood clot (I was right). You will know if something doesn’t seem right - and you mustn’t wait for your next appointment to ask someone about it.
I used internet shopping (Ocado) when I was in ‘hermit-mode’, and when the fatigue became too severe even to be taken shopping. I always had enough food in the house for a few days, and I tried to eat vaguely healthily (there’s a temptation to eat rubbish out of sheer boredom, plus the feeling that you ‘deserve’ that bar of chocolate!)
Some builders over the road helped me out a few times (changing smoke detector batteries etc.) - I’m not usually one to ask for help and I had to force myself to acknowledge that I really had to ask for help and accept offers of assistance.
I made sure I got dressed every day, though often I’m sure I looked like a tramp!
Good luck with your treatment - it’ll be over before you know it.

Hi Gussie and everyone


Thank you for this thread, I’m about to start chemo in a few weeks time and will be living on my own. I’m moving cities to be close to family (I’d given up my flat anyway to go traveling!) so will have plenty of people on hand but it’s helped me to read about others experiences.


I wondered how you got on in the end, whether you found the whole thing manageable living alone?


I hope you are now well and enjoying life


Jo x

Hi Jo_A

Welcome to the BCC Forum where I’m sure you’ll find lots of support from fellow members.  Hopefully someone will notice your post and reply to your query about living alone.

You might find it helpful to join one of the Chemo monthly threads.  These are started by members who began their chemo in the same month.  I’ve attached a link to the September group:


Very best wishes


BCC Moderator

Hi I have breast cancer with metastases in liver, spine and lung. I live alone now because my darling husband died during his cancer treatment a month before I was diagnosed. I had my first infusions 10 days ago. They discharged me and I back in hospitak with pleurisy 24hrs later. I’ve been in since. Dr said I can go home thursday before my next chemo on 22nd December. It’s surreal - tracing my beloved’s journey excep it’s me in the bed now. I’m scared of being too sleepy ( its hard to keep awake as i write now). My bro-in-law will get me home.

Starlight, I’m so sorry you had to join us with this disease. I too live alone. The chemo us doable but let your neighbours know. My next door neighbour is on standby if I need to get to hospital urgently. I have several very close friends who make me meals for the freezer for those days when I don’t feel great but need food. You will have good days and I use then to make soups and meals. Try to do a short walk every day even just out to the end of the garden. I have a routine with friends to go for lunch or coffee in my good week. Listen to your body. If you feel unwell then contact the helpline. Don’t let things escalate. Monitor you temperature but don’t obsess about it.
There is so much information in all these posts. It really helped me. I finished my chemo yesterday (3FEC/3T). I am now on 3weekly Herceptin. You can get through this and we will be here for you as you need us. I would advise you to join the monthly chemo thread as well. The support of women who are at the same stage of treatment is invaluable. I hope all goes well for you. Love suz xxx

Hello  I am in the situation,as well sadly I lost my darling husband the day after I had my op.and now have to start my chemotherapy,I am very nervous about it as my family live far and wide,I have fabulous friends and neighbors who run me here there and everywhere,but it is going to be the nights when I will feel alone,and worrying if I am going to be ill,it just seams so surreal I watched my husband go through it and now me, sorry, just feeling sorry for myself,it’s the Unknown that’s the scary bit,open for a chat if any body is out there.

Hi, I just want to add to what Charys has said.  So sorry you are going through all this.  I do understand as my auntie has gone through cancer treatment twice since her husband died. She asked a few friends to help but it was still very lonely and she was admitted to hospital a few times when the team was concerned because she had no one to look after her at home.


Big hugs xxx 


PS If it is something you think would be useful, you can request an assessment of your care and support needs from the local authority. There is some more information on this website nhs.uk/conditions/social-care-and-support-guide/pages/assessment-care-needs.aspx