Hospital life

Whether you spend very little time in hospital or are an inpatient for a long period, you may have lots of questions about what it will be like on your ward. You can talk to a member of your care team about anything you want to. They are there to support you throughout your treatment and make life as comfortable as possible.

If you've never been on a cancer ward before, you may find it challenging at first. It could be hard to see other young people or adults who have no hair, and tubes and drips attached to them.

Teenage Cancer Trust have developed age-appropriate wards for young people in hospitals around the UK. To get an idea of what the wards are like, visit the Teenage Cancer Trust website. It features pictures and descriptions of Teenage Cancer Trust units.

You learn to start tolerating things like daytime TV. Even in a cancer ward you can watch Jeremy Kyle and still feel quite good about yourself.

What will my ward be like?

If possible, ask if you can visit your place of treatment in advance. This may help you to prepare. If you can't do this, you, or someone close to you, could call your ward to ask any questions you have.

Wards across the UK can vary widely. You may have have access to a day room where you can watch television and chat to others, while a kitchen may offer opportunities to socialise, and make yourself a drink or snack. There may also be rooms available to have quiet time by yourself or do something creative. Some wards for children and young people even offer areas where you can use computers, play video games or watch DVDs.

Will I have any privacy?

All hospitals should have a privacy and dignity policy. So if you’re not staying in your own room, you should have options that allow you to have quiet time by yourself or with your family and friends.

Do remember, though, that some of the most valuable support you will get while you’re ill may be from other people affected by cancer. So although you will need privacy sometimes, try not to cut yourself off from those around you.

What if I don't like where I’m being treated?

It's never easy to adjust to new and unfamiliar surroundings. If you're struggling to adapt to life on your ward, it may help if you start to find out more about how the ward works and who the people on it are. Getting a clearer picture of what's going on could help you feel more at ease. Also, don't be afraid to talk to a member of your care team about this issue - it could help put your mind at rest.

Will anyone be allowed to stay with me on my ward?

If you're treated on a children's ward, most will have a space for one person to stay while you're having treatment. Some may also have rooms for other close family members.

If you're treated on a young person's ward, you may be able to have one person stay overnight on your ward. This may be less available on an adult ward.

Each hospital is different, so it’s worth checking with your care team if you’re able to have someone to stay with you.

Content last reviewed: November 2015
Next planned review: 2016