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What do you do to keep yourself sane while going through treatment?

Maxiecat's picture
Posts: 544
Joined: Jul 2012

I would love to hear what everyone is doing to help keep themselves sane while going through cancer treatments. I have heard that some people start yoga or painting. What else is out there? I have looked for local resources...so far I have found nothing really close to me. One of the local hospitals near me (about 40 mins from my home) has yoga and art workshops. I do needlework as a hobby...and have started a couple of projects since my diagnosis. I would love to find a group...i am going to go to the local arts workcenter and see what they have available...maybe i'll take a watercolors class or jewelery. I would love to do glassblowing but I don't think they have that. I alsonused to do stained glass...but i don't really have the space to do it right now.

So does anyone else have an outlet that they use to help get their minds off of this rollercoaster that we are on?


PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

I read some of the posts on here and then realize just how sane I really am!
I play guitar, I also take (very many) photographs. I like to garden too. All are things I enjoyed pre-cancer
Much of it depends on what treatment I did and how I physically feel. My worst side effect is some fatigue for a few days after treatment.

Staying busy is key I believe, at times it's hard to distance myself from how I'm feeling but when I do it's very good therapeutic.
Hope this helps...

Posts: 158
Joined: Jan 2012

I started running. I found that exercise kept the fatigue away and cleared my mind of thinking about cancer.

Doc_Hawk's picture
Posts: 685
Joined: Jan 2012

I spend some time on my exercise bike and during my "off week" from treatment I read and write a lot. I'm currently editing my first novel, hoping to have it ready for submission to publishers and agents by the end of fall. Unfortunately, for several days after treatment my vision is too messed up to read or write, so I stare at the TV. I'd wanted to take some philosophy classes this semester, but that's not going to happen now. I've been trying to get a scrip for Ritalin to help with the fatigue, but my insurance company is dragging on getting the authorization through.

annalexandria's picture
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

taking a little outing whenever I felt well enough. I'm lucky to live in Seattle, with lots of beautiful natural places close by, and I spent time at the beach, hiking, or just sitting on a park bench somewhere if that was all I could do. I find the natural world very rejuvenating. I usually got maybe 7-10 days each three week cycle that allowed for this. And for those times when I just couldn't leave the house, I loved Netflix. Watched a ton of brainless TV shows. Also surfed the net a lot in general, especially liked humor sites like The Bloggess, but there were times that reading, as much as i normally love it, was just too much for my poor, fried brain. That's when Netflix came in handy (and for something like $9 a month for streaming, it's a deal). Sending strength your way-Ann

Doc_Hawk's picture
Posts: 685
Joined: Jan 2012

I hate to advertise or promote something, but after years of refusing to get Netflix I finally signed up for the free trial a couple of weeks ago and I love it! It comes in real handy for nights when I can't sleep and there's nothing of interest on cable and I don't have to go staring at my DVD collection trying to figure out what to watch. Spent my recover weekend last week by watching the first 6 seasons of Weeds.

annalexandria's picture
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

forgot i could look like a spammer! I don't work for you-know-what, I swear! Actually, as a public librarian, I ought to be encouraging you all to check out your dvds from the library. I like Weeds too, along with Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Downton Abbey, Rome, Spartacus, and Parks and Recreation...oh and Deadwood, which is unfortunately long gone.

YoVita's picture
Posts: 590
Joined: Mar 2010

Thanks for promoting the resources of your local public library. I'm the director of a small public library in the Chicago area. As a voracious reader, it was hard to focus during treatment, and I found myself watching a lot of tv shows (mostly comedies) and soccer. I also agreed with another post about getting outdoors. Very helpful.

Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

Not a big TV person (none of my family is), but Netflix is one thing that really helped me and still does. We don't have cable, and our entertainment budget was cut to about zero (from formerly having an active social life bowling on 2 teams, and going out with friends, etc.). Our one big splurge is the Netflix membership and our kids got us a Roku box so we can stream using our wireless, as well as getting one DVD at at time.

Lovekitties's picture
Posts: 3372
Joined: Jan 2010

Depending on any side effects you have from treatment, will dictate which activities you feel up to.

Most that you mention need some fine motor skills and if classes a commitment to attending.

I would recommend you widen your activity list to things you can do relatively well when you are fatigued and need to stop and start, ones that you can do at home on your own schedule, ones that allow you to relax or be active based on how you feel. That way you will have something in mind for whatever the occasion.

You are on the right track. Keeping the mind and body active are good for all, even those not in treatment.

Wishing you much success with your treatments and activities.

Marie who loves kitties

barbebarb's picture
Posts: 464
Joined: Oct 2011

Hi Alex
Netfix is great when you feel really fatigued. Lie To Me, The Office, The Life Of Tara (something like that) have been entertainingFavorite funny movie, "Tommy Boy"....
If I am able to walk I find being outdoors very refreshing and riding my bike. Chair yoga is awesome - very relaxing...We have a wonderful Cancer Resource Center with many programs to attend.
I highly recommend reflexology if this is available or a Writer's Workshop.
If you can vary the things you do by how you feel its helps so much and as a distraction from negative thoughts or anxiety.
Many of the things you mentioned sound so interesting. Art is very soothing and really takes the mind somewhere else.

Hope your treatments are going well for you and you can keep doing things you love. :-)


Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6722
Joined: Feb 2009

If you can try to just be normal in anything you do would help. We went camping and even though I'd feel like crap, I'd still want to go, especially knowing that I'd be sitting out by the campfire. Just little things like sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee, or watching out the window with the birds flying, just seeing all the things in front of you, but of course being able to be angry. Get mad, get sad, cry, and pound your fists on the ground - I'd do that, but it made me feel like somehow I'd had let go. There is nothing wrong with getting angry with what is going on, but then looking at those birds again and seeing how it's so wonderful. It's hard to deal with, but I'm wishing you well. Come on the boards too - it's one of the best reliefs of getting everything out.


plh4gail's picture
Posts: 1238
Joined: Oct 2010

I was exhausted. I slept, ate a little, and kept a journal. I spent most of my spare energy with my kids playing a game or watching a movie. And we watched A loootttt of movies. (I slept)

Blessings and good wishes to you

SharonVegas's picture
Posts: 189
Joined: Feb 2012

I've been working on turning my backyard into a garden. Been working on it a little at time for over a year now. I like to plant brightly colored seasonal flowers. We sit in our backyard in the morning and drink coffee, read the paper and enjoy our garden. And of course always come up with new ideas. My wife says it's an expression of my soul and healing. It makes us happy.

Maxiecat's picture
Posts: 544
Joined: Jul 2012

Great ideas everyone! I didn't really think about it but Marie had a good point...i need to add in a few things that don't involve fine motor skills. I do have a clothes rack...um i mean an exercise bike in my bedroom...and i had not thought about netflix...we have it...i am going to write down some of those suggested titles. I might still look at an art class...maybe something in an informal setting or with open studio time. I have always been very detail -oriented ...so those activities like needlework, glass, and jewlery making and beading have always been of interest. I need to diversify a little and find some other things to do when i can't handle the fine detail work.


ron50's picture
Posts: 1729
Joined: Nov 2001

I did what I had to to make a living then I went fishing as often as I could. Now it takes me a lot longer to make a living so I have to settle for a lot less fishing but it still what lets me survive. Ron.

pete43lost_at_sea's picture
Posts: 3908
Joined: Nov 2010

i personally think sanity is over rated.

but if you are really really interested in sanity read

"psycho nutrition" how to control your moods with foods. by william vayda

an oldie but a goodie.

now its based on orthomolecular medicine, so its not in vogue with current conventional oncology.

some people believe the earth is flat, and i believe diet makes a huge difference.

thats only my personal opinion and i am an expert on myself.


ps i learnt the book to me alt doctors, they read it over the weekend. they gave it back to me with a big smile, like i had helped them join a secret club. my best friend who is bipolar learnt me the book.

pps so yes one day when the ultimate colorectal survival guide is written it will have a chapter summarising this book, with dietary suggestions to help improvement mood.

ppps of course the easiest insanity answer is exercise, but look what all that walking did to me. you have been warned.. smile another great day.

Posts: 835
Joined: Apr 2004

Cancer is incredibly intrusinve in your life and begins to take over if you don't keep an eye on it. Appointments, scans and treatments can fill you day and if you fill the rest of it with cancer relatied activities (including too much time hre) before long it fills your life conpletely. So for me keeping 'normal' stuff going was vital- playin the kids, going to the gym, work, socialising was ll critical to not allow cancer to rule my life. It all got hard to do at times especially when tired but each time I did something normal despite the tiredness or nausea or whatever, I felt like I was beating the cancer. In truth work has been one of the vital aspects for me- caner won't rob me off my identity as some one who works and the routine of work was a great distraction (used to pop off for a few hours infusion then back to work if needed).

It is very individual but changing your life completely and filling it with things you didn't do before you had cnacer just because you have cancer does mean that you are letting cancer rule you not the other way around. Positive changes are great but just because you are in treatment doesn't mean you have to sit around being a 'patient' or all day. Keeping busy is helpful and being active actually helps the fatigue- the more I rested the more tired I felt some times!

Each to their own- find your own way but be mindulf you have a life to lead!


Posts: 2215
Joined: Oct 2011

I dont think I was sane through treatment but if there were two things that kept me mostly sane.

My loving wife

Mountain biking

Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

I couldn't do much of the things I used to love to do - bowling, biking, and even reading during treatment. My cousin got me a Kindle so I could adjust font size depending on what my crazy eyes were doing each day. So I was able to start reading again. I kept working when I could, and didn't have enough extra energy for much more. Slowly I got more and more active in advocacy and that is where my focus is. It is a win/win situation as I can do something that will help others, and I get support in return too. I mentor/buddy with a few other stage IV CRC patients, and I stay active with several cancer advocacy groups.

marbleotis's picture
Posts: 715
Joined: Mar 2012

I have chemo 12 of 12 on Tuesday. My Onc did not want me to expose myself to people/germs during chemo so I was really indoors alot.

Ah....to stay sane. I had my sewing studio built and that is where I spend many happy hours. On chemo weeks I am very tired so I sleep. Non-chemo weeks I do cooking, laundry and just plain old plain things to remind me I still can.

I focused on the chemo directly ahead of me and not worry about how many I had. I also relied on this board for continued support and a good laugh.

I am scheduled to start a Wellness program as part of the hospital that is execise, nutrition and yogs. I am thrilled about this and have looked forward to it since last March when I began. I lost 61 pounds via chemo so I need to really build myself back up. ANd of course I will be making a new wardrobe!

The important thing is to keep making plans, even if short range plans. Do what you enjoy.

I will be super-excited when I can go to the fabric store and start buying! I also looked into a sewing seminar next year that I will go to. I am also looking into teaching sewing. You can see the theme here!

Enjoy, focus on what's in front of you, keep as active as you can and suddenly you are on #12.


Maxiecat's picture
Posts: 544
Joined: Jul 2012

Thank you everyone....some great ideas. I was able to finish a needlework project this week .... just another couple of hundread to go.LOL I am going to talk to my current Dr about the exercise bike and this week when I am down from chemo I will look into the open studio time at the art center. I think just going when I feel like it will give me an outlet without the comittment.


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