Breast cancer changes you, but not every change has to be negative. Before I started chemo, I would describe my physical activity level as…well, zero. As a busy marketing director, mother and wife, I just couldn’t seem to find the time. Although cancer brought about some traumatic changes in my life, it also brought some positivity. In the midst of chemotherapy treatments, my doctor told me that staying active and exercising could help me adapt to my treatments better.
I started small. After my first chemo treatment, I walked a short distance. These short walks slowly turned into short runs. Then longer runs. Throughout my cancer recovery process, I incorporated running — and my doctor was right. Not only did it improve the treatments, but it also helped my overall health and outlook and became a positive outlet for the frustrations that cancer brought to my life. Gradually, an activity I used to pass the time helped me do something I never imagined. I was able to run a 5K.
If you’re undergoing breast cancer treatment, I encourage you to find a similar outlet. Chemotherapy sessions can take anywhere from half an hour to three or four hours. Finding something to do during your appointments can not only help you stay positive but will also make them go by faster! These ideas for things to do during chemo can give you a kickstart to making sessions something to look forward to.
1. Read a Book or Online Articles
There’s nothing like getting absorbed in something enjoyable to read. If you can’t afford new books, try books from a thrift store or free public domain ebooks. Patients who like to keep up with the news or read about a certain topic can also save online articles to read during appointments. No matter what you choose, uplifting or self-affirming reads can keep your mood up during treatment.
2. Get Crafty
Knitting, crocheting and needlework can keep your hands and mind busy during sessions. In the age of the internet, you can look up instructions on how to do these crafts at any level. Did you know that you can use these activities to support other cancer patients? Charities like Knots of Love will accept handmade hats that other patients can use as head coverings.
I’ll never forget the time when a group of artists visited my chemotherapy treatment center. Their love of life and enthusiasm brought joy to those of us going through the most challenging time in our lives. They were there to demonstrate their craft, but they demonstrated so much more. They showed that art could transcend negative experience and beauty can transcend pain.
3. Pick Up a New Hobby
The time you spend during chemo is your time, so you can take advantage of it to learn a skill you’ve always wanted to have. Aspiring artists can take along a pencil and sketchbook and practice drawing. You could also make cards for other patients going through the same experiences you are. Organizations like Card Care Connection let you support others with cancer by donating a card made with your love.
4. Listen to Music, Audiobooks and Podcasts
Are you the kind of person who likes to keep your ears busy? You have more options than ever. We have free access to music, audiobooks and podcasts on streaming services. Happy music and audiobooks can help you think positive during your session. Affirming podcasts and podcasts for self-improvement let you be the best you can be and love yourself.
5. Contact Loved Ones
You can use the time that chemotherapy appointments give you by connecting with those close to you. Call, text or email important people in your life to remind yourself what you’re fighting for. Or, get in touch with old friends to build an existing relationship.
6. Keep a Journal
Did you know that cancer patients can use journaling as a form of self-care? Journals don’t have to involve documentation of your day — they just have to have content from the heart. You can express your feelings with gratitude statements, stream-of-consciousness writing, art and more. Focusing on the positive things in your life will help you stay strong in the fight against breast cancer.
When I found out that I might have breast cancer, I started a blog as an outlet for everything that was going through my mind. I shared with the world my innermost thoughts, fears and feelings. And by writing it out, I found solace and strength. I continued posting during my treatment, and these blogs connected me to others going through similar experiences. Although my breast cancer treatments are over, as a survivor, I now use these posts as a way to reach out to those still fighting the good fight.
You Don’t Have to Fight Cancer Alone
My blog offers guides, survivor stories and advice for breast cancer patients like you. My hope is that we can support you during your cancer recovery.