Clare Reed CBT Therapist
Making the Most of Cancer Treatment Pauses
Cancer treatment can seem like a never-ending slog, from operations and recuperation times, endless chemo rounds and non-stop radiotherapy sessions. The relentless hospital visits can really get on top of any person. For your sense of self, and well-being, having something to look forward to, at the different stages of treatment, can go a long way to maintaining a good positive mindset throughout it all.
Treatment pauses occur at different stages of Cancer treatment, depending on your treatment plan. There could be a pause after a quickly executed operation at the beginning of treatment before commencing chemotherapy. Or a pause before an operation, if it comes after some treatment. There can be a pause between chemotherapy and radiotherapy, or after an operation but before radiotherapy. There can be a few week gaps between chemotherapy rounds too. Look for the gaps in your personal treatment plan and plot them in your diary.
Ideas for Cancer Treatment Pauses
Plan a break, whether to visit friends or family, or book into a hotel or BnB in the countryside, whatever takes your fancy. Trips are great for a change of scenery and to take your mind off the treatment. Ideally, getting away from crowds, such as bustling cities, will be more helpful for your immune system, which will need protecting on trips away.
Plan activities, like a walk in the countryside or other pursuits, such as camping or artistic retreats. Short courses are fabulous too. I took two short online courses during my treatment and they really distracted me, particularly when studying for the exams, which I scheduled for a couple of chemo break weekends. Studying is a useful cognitive exercise for the mind and during chemotherapy it is important to keep challenging the brain now and then, as chemotherapy can affect memory with the dreaded ‘Chemo Brain’ symptoms.
Improve your Lifestyle
Did you have the best lifestyle before Cancer came along? Maybe you don’t know what to do to change your lifestyle? One thing I encourage my clients to do is to get fit during treatment. Most people wait until after treatment, but it will help your overall health greatly, and in addition it will help with side effects, if you start getting fit as soon as possible after the diagnosis. Treatment pauses are a great time to road test some new healthy pursuits, depending on your physical shape and of course you must run this by your Doctor! It could be renting a bike, learning to swim, hiking a trail, taking a tennis lesson, learning to dance. Whatever you think may suit. Give some different pursuits a whirl on your pauses and by the end of treatment you may well have set yourself up with a more active lifestyle and be mastering a new skill!
Take up a Hobby
If you are lucky to have gotten some sick leave you will find you have some time on your hands. Pauses are a great time to pick up an old neglected hobby or start a new hobby. You might start writing a blog detailing your Cancer journey, a weekend blog writing course on a pause would be ideal to get your writing into gear. Maybe you have longed to learn something and used the, ‘I just don’t have the time,’ excuse to put it off. Now is the time! So, whether it’s brushing off the cobwebs from an under used guitar, easel, camera, book-shelf, make the most of your time off.
If you don’t have sick leave, and want to learn a new hobby, a short weekend course taken during a treatment pause is perfect. If you don’t have the funds for a short course then YouTube is a great tool, there are loads of free tutorials on YouTube, for all types of hobbies. Select a few videos and set some days aside to immerse yourself.
Life doesn’t have to go on hold just because you are having Cancer treatment and hopefully you can get inspired to plan a few trips or activities soon. You will be grateful that you did when the treatment plan commences again.
I would love to hear what you are planning during your treatment and your ideas can be inspiring to others reading this article too.
Onwards and Upwards!