During Treatment FAQ - the big questions during cancer treatment
As a mum or birthing parent, going through treatment for cancer in and around pregnancy, you are likely to have a number of questions. Here we try to answer some of the most common ones...
Will my treatment hurt my baby / children?
If you are pregnant while going through treatment, your care plan will have been created to protect the health of your baby. See our 'Pregnancy Fears' article for more on this.
There are some treatments that can have lasting effects which may impact your children and family at home. In these cases you may be required to isolate before/after in order to minimise any effects. For example, after certain types of radiation treatments, like Radioactive Iodine, advice may be given to isolate from children and pregnant people for a specified period of time.
Can I breastfeed while having cancer treatment?
The safety of breastfeeding will depend upon what kind of treatment you are having. Click here to read our Cancer and Breastfeeding article.
Can I bring my baby / child(ren) to my chemo appointments?
While children are generally not allowed at appointment, if you have a newborn or baby it is possible that you will be able to bring them to your chemo treatments. This decision will depend on the hospital or centre where you are receiving treatment, and your care team. If you feel keeping your baby with you during these times is necessary, don't be afraid to ask.
Can I go on holiday / stay away from home while having treatment?
A holiday can be a welcome break from the physical and emotional impact of cancer. Each person's circumstances will vary, so it's important to talk to your health care team and find out what going away from home would mean for you.
If you have just started a treatment, you might like to see how you react before attempting to go away from home. Similarly, towards the end of treatment, the cumulative impact on their body can make some people more unwell and travel more difficult.
Consider what form of transport will best suit your needs for breaks, rest etc.
If travelling abroad, you will also need to look into travel insurance (new or existing) as not all policies cover pre-existing medical conditions such as cancer. And if something happens while you are away, look into the nearest hospitals/medical centres, and plan where would you need to go and how easy would it be to get there.
Macmillan Cancer Support has a section which looks at buying travel insurance after a cancer diagnosis: Cancer and buying travel insurance | Macmillan Cancer Support
How will I cope with a newborn/baby/my child/children while having treatment?
Parenting is hard work at the best of times, but while having cancer treatment you may find your capacity and energy are limited. You may also need to be away for appointments, treatments etc. This doesn't mean you won't be able to cope, but you may need more support than you expected!
Your Support Worker can listen and talk with you about helpful strategies and adjustments you could make. ParentingWithCancer.org is a website created by Fruitfly Collective, in collaboration with Mummy's Star and many other fantastic organisations, to specifically support parents with cancer. It offers a combination of parenting coaching sessions, practical tools, coping skills and advice from online workshops. They also have helpful information about calming kids, help with school, feelings and emotions, talking to children, developing new behaviours, and parenting from bed.
We also have a number of articles in our Support Library that explore parenting and cancer.
What do I do if I'm not happy with my treatment / care?
If at any point you are not happy with your treatment or care, in the first instance please speak with your healthcare team to see if the issue can be resolved. Although not a legal right, most GPs or your current consultant, would be happy to refer you for a second opinion. Mummy's Star may be able to offer advocacy support in these instances.
If the issue is not resolved through them you may want to contact your local PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service). Most PALS services can be contacted through your hospital switchboard and/or website.
If you are a mum or birthing parent having cancer treatment, and have more questions or concerns, don't hesitate to reach out to your Information and Support Worker or email email@example.com for referral.