Chemotherapy can have unpredictable effects. Some people feel fine for the first few hours after treatment, while others have a difficult time functioning normally.
Those who feel fine may think they’re perfectly capable of getting themselves home, but is driving really a good idea after chemotherapy?
Is It Legal to Drive after Chemotherapy?
In most cases, it’s legal to drive after a chemotherapy session, but whether or not it’s a good idea is another story.
Before taking the keys, talk to your doctor or nurse. The drugs prescribed along with the chemo may affect your ability to drive.
The Side Effects of Chemo
Most chemotherapy patients understandably want to maintain their independence throughout the treatment process. But it’s important to discuss the potential side effects that may make it unsafe to drive.
Chemotherapy can affect your:
- Motor skills
The side effects that you experience will depend on the chemotherapy used in your treatment. The chemotherapy drug Altima, which can be used to treat mesothelioma, can cause severe diarrhea and tiredness. Survivingmesothelioma.com offers some great resources for mesothelioma treatment. Other chemotherapy drugs, like those used to treat oral cancer, may just cause hair loss and changes to the skin.
Unfortunately, chemo has many unpleasant side effects, like vomiting, nausea and fatigue. Some people feel these effects immediately, while others don’t feel them for a few hours or a full day.
All of these side effects may not only affect your ability to drive, but your desire, too. You may find it difficult to concentrate or stay alert after treatment. Many people find that the treatments wipe them out completely. Extreme fatigue will prevent you from being able to drive safely.
Other people have extreme nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea right away. These side effects can make it difficult or impossible to concentrate on the road. In this case, you may want to have a close friend or family member drive you home – and take precautions to make sure you’re prepared for the ride home.
While blurred or double vision is rare after chemo, these side effects are still possible, and they can affect your judgment. Some other drugs that go along with chemo may cause drowsiness, which can affect your reaction time.
Everyone’s response to chemo is different, which is why you should take it easy and slow at first until you know how you’ll respond.
Should You Really Drive after Chemo?
While everyone responds to chemo differently, your doctor will likely recommend that you get a ride home after your first session to gauge your tolerance.
If you respond well, your doctor may give you the green light to drive yourself home after future sessions.
Even if you typically tolerate the drug well, you should still have a backup plan in place. Some days will be better than others, so have someone ready and able to drive you home if you don’t feel 100% okay.
Most people find that they are able to drive to and from their treatment sessions, but it’s best not to take any chances after the first treatment. Have someone ready and able to take you home until you know how you’ll react to the drug.
Getting to and From Chemo Sessions
What if you can’t drive home from chemo and you can’t get a ride from friends or family?
Consider calling a local taxi service or using public transportation. If available in your area, you can also use Uber to get home.
If none of these options are available, the American Cancer Society can connect you with patient transportation services.
A volunteer organization called The Society also offers a program called Road to Recovery, which offers transportation to people undergoing chemotherapy.