Driving Yourself After Chemotherapy

Consult with your oncologist and consider the potential side effects

The experience of chemotherapy can be different for everyone. Some people may feel fine afterward, while others may feel very sick. It's good to remember that chemotherapy is a medical treatment that can be mentally and physically draining. Though you may be able to drive yourself home, it may not always mean it's a good idea.

Read on to find out more about the topic of driving yourself home after chemotherapy.

A patient receiving chemotherapy treatment
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Side Effects of Chemo

Your healthcare provider will tell you that the side effects of chemotherapy can affect judgment, motor skills, and vision. These include such common symptoms as fatigue, nausea, and vomiting, which not only affect your desire to drive but also your concentration and alertness.

Your judgment may be affected by symptoms like:

  • Fatigue: You don't always make the best decisions when you're tired.
  • Mood changes: Chemo can affect a person's mood, which can impact judgment.
  • Chemo brain: You may be "spacey" or forget things easily, which can also dull judgment

Your motor skills may be affected due to:

  • Fatigue: Fatigue can slow down reaction time and physical responses; cancer-related fatigue is very different than "regular" fatigue.
  • Chemo brain: It may take you longer to remember how to do something.
  • Nausea: When you're nauseous, even your movements can be affected because you feel so horrible.
  • Peripheral neuropathy: Tingling or numbness in your hands or feet may impact your ability to drive.

Some people receiving chemo also experience changes to their vision, including blurred or double vision. These vision changes can seriously impact your driving ability.

If you are on any pain medications, drowsiness may also be a concern. Drowsiness decreases your response time and can even cause you to fall asleep at the wheel. Altering dosing schedules, or even changing medications, can sometimes help alleviate the problem. Ask your provider if the chemotherapy has fatigue or drowsiness as a side effect.

In most cases, your healthcare provider will ask you to get a ride home after your first session to see how you will tolerate the chemo. If you feel well the first time, they say that driving home for future sessions is okay.

Remember, how you feel after chemo can change from session to session. Always have a backup plan.

Making Contingency Plans

If you find that you cannot drive to and from your chemotherapy sessions, you may want to consider taking a taxi, public transportation, or asking a friend to chauffeur you. If none of these options are available, contact your local American Cancer Society (ACS), and they can refer you to local patient transportation services.

The ACS offers a volunteer program called Road to Recovery, which provides transportation assistance to those undergoing chemo. The Society's online support locator allows you to search by zip code (or city and state) and select the services you need.


If your healthcare provider gives you the okay, don't assume that things will be fine if your first treatment goes well. Your side effects may vary as time goes on. Have backup plans ready if you need them.

Summary

Chemotherapy can affect different people in different ways. Wanting to maintain independence is natural, but it may not always be possible to drive independently to and from treatment. There are options that you can utilize rather than drive yourself. Ask your healthcare provider whether it's safe to drive after chemotherapy treatments.

A Word From VeryWell

Wanting to maintain independence as you go through chemotherapy is understandable. Before chemotherapy starts, speak with your healthcare provider or treatment team about driving yourself to and from chemo. The treatment center might have rules about transportation to and from chemotherapy. Their advice might vary depending on the kind of chemotherapy you are having.

Originally written by Lisa Fayed
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3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Adel N. Overview of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and evidence-based therapies. Am J Manag Care. 2017;23(14 Suppl):S259-S265.

  2. American Cancer Society. Chemotherapy side effects.

  3. Harman LE. Ophthalmic complications related to chemotherapy in medically complex patients. Cancer Control. 2016;23(2):150-156. doi:10.1177/107327481602300209

Additional Reading
  • ten Tije, A. “Drug-interaction and Formulation Aspects of Taxanes in the Treatment of Cancer.” 2004; 1-168; ISNB 90-9017845-7.