Fun time with your family can give you a boost. But with breast cancer, you may want to make some changes.
The key: keep it simple.
“I always tell my patients, ‘You don’t have to plan these extensive outings,'” said Eleonora Teplinsky, a breast and gynecological oncologist at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and Valley Hospital in Paramus, NJ. ‘If you are a parent and undergo chemotherapy or cancer treatment, your children just want to spend time with you.
Start with these five ideas.
Pick up a paintbrush and tap on your artistic side.
Alexea Gaffney-Adams, managing director, did this when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 at the age of 37. She wanted to create many happy memories with her then 6-year-old daughter, Kennedy.
“We would try a lot of activities that weren’t too strenuous,” says Gaffney-Adams, a single mother and doctor in Stony Brook, NJ.
If you have the energy, you can go to a cocktail party. Or stay home and be comfortable. Or just take a few coloring books.
‘We used to go to the craft shop and buy a bunch of cloths, brushes and acrylic paints. Then we draw pictures and paint [at home], especially if the weather was bad, ”says Gaffney-Adams.
She is cancer free after a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Make outdoor peak hours your best time
With cancer — and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic — you want to avoid crowds.
“If the person is actively undergoing chemo or radiation, he may be immunosuppressed and a large crowd and sick people should be avoided,” says Jovita Oruwari, MD, a breast surgeon at SSM Health DePaul Hospital-St. Louis.
So do nice things in the outside hours.
Tara Watts, a 36-year-old elementary school teacher in New Jersey, is doing this with her husband and five children. Watts, who was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer in April 2021, is receiving chemotherapy. It is important for her to avoid infections.
“We went to Six Flags on the days I know it will be less crowded,” she says. ‘So we go during rush hour during the week or a few hours in the evening. We also go on cloudy or colder days when most people say, ‘We’re not going.
Eight benches are also something that Gaffney-Adams and her daughter enjoy. What better place to let go?
Cook something together
“I always helped Kennedy cook,” says Gaffney-Adams.
‘We had to get a lot of new, interesting recipes, because food starts to taste strange to you when you undergo chemotherapy. So you are trying to make healthier choices or make choices that give you fewer side effects or provide the nutrition you need. ”
You definitely do not need to add any more tasks to your life while undergoing cancer treatment. So make the family’s cooking easier for yourself.
Having a meal box entry can be more convenient. All the ingredients come before you.
“We have one [delivery] a week. It did not hurt our budget and it made the meal special, ”says Gaffney-Adams. ‘We prepare all the food and prepare the meals together. It gave us something exciting to look forward to. ”
Make time for nature
Doing things outside can be relaxing, active and fun for everyone. On top of that, it is better than indoor activities during the pandemic, Teplinsky notes.
“We run to the beach and take our beach mat, some snacks or dinner, and we sit and watch the sunset together,” says Gaffney-Adams. “I have to relax.”
The Watts family also loves being in nature. “We like to do things outdoors, like cycling, walking and going to the beach,” says Chris Watts, Tara’s husband. “The beach is a very big thing in our house.”
No beach? No problem. Go to a local park.
Watch movies under the stars
Your backyard beats the cineplex. You can bring your own snacks, the floors are not sticky, and there is no hassle with traffic or parking!
Use a projector screen or play the movie on a personal device.
“We would pitch these little pop-up tents and put a movie on our iPad or laptop and sit outside in the backyard and watch a movie under the stars in the dark,” says Gaffney-Adams.
“While we spent a lot of time at home because of my feelings, we had a lot of movie months,” says Tara Watts.
“The joy I get when I’m with my family in such moments has really kept me going. It gives me strength. ”
Presence over perfection
Remember, just being present goes a long way.
‘As we saw during COVID, children are resilient and strong. They are able to handle what they encounter, ”says Teplinsky. “And as long as they know that mom or dad is there and that they are loved, things will go well.”