Chemotherapy sessions can be very long, sometimes lasting several hours. Treatment is typically given in cycles. A cycle’s duration, frequency, and number depends on several factors including the kinds of chemotherapy drugs you’re given. Talk to your oncologist and your chemotherapy team about what you can expect.
No matter how long your session is, you’ll want to prepare ahead of time for activities you can do to pass the time. Many people who’ve gone through chemotherapy use this as an opportunity to start a new hobby.
Here are just a few activities that can keep you busy and relaxed:
Bring a companion
Ask your oncologist if a family member or friend can join you during your sessions. If so, break out your competitive spirit and challenge your companion to a game. Simple card games like War or Rummy can be entertaining. If you have enough table space, working on a puzzle or playing a board game can also be fun.
Turn to tunes
Great music can be soothing. Load up your smartphone or other MP3 player with your favorite tunes. You may also consider subscribing to a music streaming service. Ask family or friends for suggestions of some of their favorite artists or playlists too.
Enjoy a good read
Whether it’s a romance novel, a historic biography, or an old-time classic, books are the perfect way to escape. Today’s e-readers and tablets are handy because they allow you to keep several books or magazines on one lightweight device.
Watch a movie
Watching a movie can quickly pass the time. Rent DVDs and watch them on your laptop or a portable DVD player. Subscribing to one of the many movie and television streaming services can also be worthwhile, especially since you can watch them on your smartphone or tablet. Besides new movies, some patients take this time to watch old classics or the “Best Picture” Oscar winners from years past. Bring along some snacks and drinks for a true movie theatre experience.
Jot it down
Writing down your emotions and experiences can be a good therapy exercise. Take time to put your thoughts in a notebook. You may consider starting a blog online to keep family and friends updated on your treatment.
Meditation involves focusing your attention to help you feel calm and give you a clear awareness about your life. Taking the time to sit quietly, even for just 15 minutes, can be beneficial. Research has shown that cancer patients who practice meditation have fewer symptoms of stress and fewer episodes of low moods than patients who don’t meditate. Online videos and tutorials can teach you simple breathing techniques, and give you suggestions for soothing music.
If you’ve never learned to knit or crochet, now’s a great time to start. Find out if your local craft or fabric store offers classes for beginners, or search for knitting or crochet instructions online. Many online tutorials feature simple, “how-to” videos. Many patients find it relaxing to work on a creative project during sessions and are satisfied by knitting caps or hats for themselves or other cancer patients. Ask your companion to join you so you can create something together.
Sitting still for several hours gives you the time to organize paperwork dealing with your treatment or normal household tasks. Organize correspondence from your insurance plan and any bills that require payment. Make a list of any questions you might have for your chemotherapy team. Write thank you notes or emails to friends or family who’ve been particularly supportive. Jot down the next week’s grocery or chore list if someone is helping with the duties. Getting organized may not be the most exiting task, but it can help you feel more prepared and ease some stress.
However you choose to spend the time, make sure it’s something that you enjoy or find relaxing. Try anything that keeps you from watching the clock. And don’t forget that sleep may also be a perfect option. Pack some comforts from home, such as a warm blanket and a cozy pillow, and take this time to get a much-needed nap.