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Hi all the wife will be starting chemo at the QE in Birmingham in the next week or 2.

Just wondering if anyone could break down what a day in chemo is like for us.

She was told it would be 8 hours and just has so many simple questions like so you eat? Are the chairs comfy? Silly things but would help put her mind at ease if she know what a standard day entails.

Many thanks in advance. 

  • Morning . My husband has had one dose of chemo and due another next week. He sat in a reclining chair. You are pumped with a lot of fluid so be prepared to get up and down a lot to the loo! He wished he had worn more comfy clothes and more layers.  He was offered a sandwich, biscuits, yoghurts etc but they don’t allow hot food as the smell may be offensive to others. All the staff on the chemo ward were so lovely. 

  • Hi Rich, It would help to know what the chemo is.  I had carboplatin.  That infusion took about an hour.  I believe Cisplatin is around 3 hours.

    At my hospital the chemo chairs are comfy and reclining (electric).  You book in and when a chair is available they take you to it.  They warm your arm to make putting the cannula in easier.  At the same time give you the pre meds to help reduce nausea (i did not suffer).  After 5 minutes then the put the cannula in and run some saline in.  Then the chemo, followed by more saline.

    They brought round sandwiches and hot drinks whilst having chemo, which is OK for the first few weeks, but if the side effects of RT are kicking in then swallow becomes difficult.  At that stage they will replace any pills with liquid meds.

    Many people sleep or listen to music or chat to a neighbour.  You can normally have someone stop with you if you want.

    When you finish you will be given some anti nausea drugs to take at home.

    After chemo it is off to the RT LINAC and they will push you to the top of the queue.  Don't worry if you are early or late as the RT team are used to managing the vagaries of the chemo process.

    Hope this genearl overview helps.

    See my profile for more details of my convoluted journey
  • Hi my chemo days went like this I was on 3 sessions so one every 3 weeks. Got to ward 0830 by 0900 cannula was in and the first bag of saline was slowly dropped in I’m onky 5 foot and 9 stone so your body size determines how slowly  drop goes in by 1130 I had had saline and steroid injections then waited fir nurse tk change bags agsin droends hiw busy so maybe 1230 cisplatin went in that could be another 2.5 hours thrn doen ti radiotherapy with saline going in u woukd usually he on my way home by 1730-1800an yoyrs driving time each way. First session I ate soup n a roll 2 nd session j ays nithjng drink ensure drinks. 3 re session cancelled in conjunction with oncology . Warn hef there’s lots of trips to loo with all the saline bejng ojmoed jn. Take kindle tabkets and long chargers  for them. I also took herbal tea bsgs. Ic she’s having Weekly time will ge less. Chairs at keeds xsncer crntre designed esp for chrmi are v comfy photos in blog and dersuks. Hazel xx

    Hazel aka RadioactiveRaz 

    My blog is  HPV 16+ tonsil cancer Now 5 years  post treatment. 35 radiotherapy 2 chemo T2N2NM.Happily getting on with living always happy to help  

  • Chemo made me fall in love with reclining chairs. Be prepared for a long day... maybe take a blanket. Plan clothing that doesn't involve putting sleeves over cannula. Also, if you have radiotherapy on the same day, think how you will get your upper clothing off, while still connected to a infusion bag on a wheeled stand.


    Diagnosed Feb 2023 with base of tongue cancer, oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC), HPV positive, staging: T4aN2CM0

  • Hi RichL

    Bloods taken first to make sure Chemo can be given...saline solution through canula....200mls of pee needed to make sure things are working....then if all OK cisplatin administered....then more saline....RadioT fitted in between saline and chemo.

    Long wife made two long journeys (70/80 mile round trips) on Chemo days...0800 start....1600 finish

    Plenty of others to chat with...though some were very quiet.... took a tablet with me for news and Libby app for free newspapers, tea and biscuits/ sandwiches and soup were supplied...very good quality.

    Best of luck 


  • Hey RichL

    I had two chemo session, get there for 8.30, cannula put into hand, saline pumped in then Cisplatin chemo treatment and then more saline, i also had radiotherapy which i went for during the 2nd bag of saline. I would be leaving about 2-3pm so very long day of sitting around.

    I was at Newcastle and they had reclining chairs so very comfy, it was cold though as they need to keep the temperature down for the machines so take something warm, maybe a blanket. They had a food trolley which came round often with free Tea/Coffee for patients and people that came with them but the lunch trolley was only for patients, also free.

    Hope that helps.


  • Thanks everyone. It really helps. 

    Especially about taking the blanket as she is always cold. 

  • Hi RichL. I was at Ninewells in Dundee. I’d get there for 830. Had blood drawn, then got my radiotherapy done and when I go back waited on the blood results. I was armed with iPad, phone and chargers. I caught up on my YouTube’s and knitted many garments whilst there. The reclining chairs were very comfortable so was able to nap during the cisplatin.  My husband waited at the Maggies centre. We had an hours drive each way.  Wear super comfy clothing. You’ll be off to the loo constantly. Good luck 

  • I had carboplatin weekly for 6 weeks on top of radiotherapy. Took anti-nausea drugs an hour before leaving home (not the first time, but after that). Started treatment around 0830. An hour or so for checking me, putting in dexamethasone, running through some saline. After an hour the carboplatiin went in for 70 mins or so. Another half an hour to finish up and leave, Into radiotherapy around 1130, done after 20 mins, home by lunch. No immediate side effects at all from the chemo apart from a very cold arm as it went in - they gave me a heat pack which fixed that. Probably lucky, but mostly no real problems as it was being done.