Medical Care
  • Doctors & Appointments
  • Pratical Caregiving Tips
  • Preparing Your Home
  • What to Buy
  • Diet Tips
  • Hospital Stays
  • Pain Management
  • Effects of Treatments
  • Personal Experiences
  • Special Situtations
Preparing your home

Reduced immunity
Your spouse will likely have a reduced immunity from the chemotherapy, while you will suffer from reduced immunity due to sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, etc.

How to deal
Keep things germfree, as much as you can. If you have germ factories (i.e. small children) living with you, this can be an even more challenging task. But this does not mean sanitizing your house and living in a bubble with no outside contact.

Know that certain cancers and chemotherapies require even more attention to cleanliness than others, so be sure to ask your doctor how important this issue is for your spouse’s particular situation.

Practical tips

  • Use hand sanitizers®everywhere! Keep large bottles in the house. Keep small bottles everywhere – purses, travel bags, backpacks, the car, etc.
  • Wash your hands frequently with antibacterial soap.
  • Clean up quickly and easily with disinfectant wipes
    (Lysol or Clorox wipes).
  • Change things that easily get germy more often – such as sponges, dishtowels, and all family members’ toothbrushes – so there is less opportunity for germ growth.
  • Wash the tops of food and soda cans before opening them, especially when your spouse’s immunity is very low. Cans may carry lots of dirt and germs.
  • Maintain a clean house: Reduce clutter. Get as much help as you can to keep up with mopping, dusting, bathrooms, etc. If necessary, consider hiring a cleaning service.
  • Avoid crowded areas like malls, movie theaters and grocery stores during peak times, particularly if you’ve been told that your spouse’s white blood cell counts are very low.
  • Replace makeup and never use any that belongs to someone else.

Often your spouse’s physical comfort will suffer because of the effects of treatment. Many of these issues can be moderated, if you know what to do.

Sleeping can be painful due to surgery, intestinal issues, etc.

  • Matt found that a large body pillow allowed his wife to re-position her body in ways that significantly reduced the discomfort. (Bed Bath & Beyond, $10)
  • Karen got wedge pillows for Mark when he needed to sleep on an angle. She also found soft bean pillows for his arms and legs when they hurt.
  • There are also round pillows with holes in them which are good for bony sore spots, like the tailbone, to take some pressure off that area.


  • Anemia can cause a person to feel cold all the time, so keep jackets, sweaters, and blankets handy. Warm drinks and hot baths are also good.
  • In the living room, a comforter specifically for your spouse can help him/her to feel more comfortable.


  • Simply traveling to and from the hospital or a nearby friend or family member’s house can be uncomfortable.
  • When traveling, try keeping pillows in the car to cushion a sore body part or to help make it easier for them to try to catch a short nap.

Find softer, less constricting clothing for your spouse.

  • Get items that are easy to get in and out of and have gentle waistbands, arm holes, etc.

Cancer treatments and their side effects can drastically affect how your spouse gets around the house and the world outside. Fatigue, anemia and low blood pressure can all have a profound effect on a person’s ability to move around the house and navigate around objects on the floor.

Practical tips

    • Keep things picked up and keep clear paths to the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, etc. This will reduce the potential for tripping. The worst time is a middle-of-the-night bathroom run, so try to remove sharp objects and sharp corners from the bed-to-bathroom pathway. You might also want to put in motion-sensor nightlights to make it easier for your spouse to see sharp corners and possible obstacles.
    • Stairs can quickly drain a cancer patient of the little energy he/she has. If you have stairs, try to keep your spouse on one floor to limit the trips up and down the stairs.

Set up a second or pseudo bedroom in the living room or in front of the TV. It helps to have a place where your spouse can easily rest and relax, but still feel like he/she is participating in family activities and not feel alone.

  • At some point, a wheelchair may be necessary. They can be large and difficult to navigate in a small house or apartment, so be prepared to rearrange furniture and build ramps to if needed.
  • You may also need to get a shower chair if your spouse is too weak to shower standing up or cannot stand up and sit down in the tub for a bath. Bathrooms can be dangerous places, particularly for someone weakened by cancer treatment, and it’s better to make more accommodations than too few.