1. Escape Into A Good ReadIt could be a mystery or a romance novel, true crime or history, but it tells a story that draws you in and keeps you absorbed - that's what a good read means to me. When I was in chemo I used to read humorous short stories and books in a mystery series. These books gave me a great escape from the reality of cancer treatment, and since the infusion room was fairly quiet, it was a good place to read. Whether a book is on paper, in an e-reader, on your laptop or iPad, a good story can take you far away from Cancerland and give you a welcome break. I also found it helpful to read breast cancer survivor stories.
2. Get It In WritingWriting and journaling can be very therapeutic. If you're keeping a blog, updating your supporters, or venting your feelings, put it in writing while you're in the chemo parlor. You could also work on your health notebook making sure that your invoices and receipts match up and that you understand your lab reports. Talk to your infusion nurses about any questions you may have and write down their answers and tips. On another practical note, bring along your weekly bills and get caught up on payments and correspondence.
3. Make Something Of ItIf you don't have an IV line stuck in your hand, you can do some crafting while your infusion drips. If you knit, crochet, or sew, you could make caps and hats to donate or to wear for yourself. I've seen patients doing cross-stitch projects, sewing children's clothes, and working on quilting squares. Some people work on scrapbooks, photo albums, or small polymer clay projects like Bottles of Hope.
4. Soothe The Beast With a BeatOne way to lower your stress levels during your visit to chemoville is to bring along some great music. Load your laptop, pack your iPod, or slip some CDs into your portable CD player. Choose music that soothes, encourages, or distracts you. Use some music to support meditation or to help with guided imagery. The right music may transport you to a comfortable mental and emotional space in which you can relax.
5. Watch Time Go ByMovies can inspire and entertain you - and they can certainly help you pass the time. Check your local library for their selection of movies, or contact your friends about their video collections. One of my coworkers had a wide variety of VHS tapes and DVDs that she loaned me weekly. After I had sampled those, we got together to discuss the stories and that gave us the chance to enjoy the shows twice! If your infusion rooms has televisions, ask if you can use those, and if not, try out portable DVD players or online movie services that let you view movies and television programs over your iPad, laptop or e-reader. Line up a series of classic Oscar winners and work your way through the whole set - it might just give you something to look forward to!
6. Make Future PlansIt's hard to forget that you have a life-threatening illness when you're at a chemo appointment. One way I fought back against negative and limiting thoughts was to make plans for the future. I found classes and workshops to sign up for, dreamed up vacation plans, and thought about new skills I wanted to learn. Planning for my own future helped lower my stress levels and one way to do this is to make a vision board. Creating a visual chart of what you plan to accomplish in survivorhood can help you stay motivated to complete your treatment.
7. Pray, Meditate, VisualzeWhen I switched clinics and started on different drugs, I was very nervous - or honestly I was in a panic! It helped me to take a mental and spiritual break by using prayer to center myself on the task of recovery. If there were times that I could not pray for myself, I could intercede for others around me. You could also try some mindfulness meditation to keep your mind from running off into negative directions, to lower your stress levels, and possibly to boost your immune system. And if you are a very image-oriented person, try healing visualization. Picture the drugs actively seeking out and taking down your cancer, cell by cell - and then your body rebuilding itself into better health. Feeling very creative? Try a colored light meditation or guided imagery.
8. Get PlayfulBring along some games or puzzles to occupy yourself during an infusion. If you have an electronic device, you can load your own games on it, and if not, try these 50 free games. If you're not a geek but prefer more intellectual entertainment, get a book of word puzzles or number games like Sudoku. If you have enough table space, spread out a jigsaw puzzle and work it over. Even your nurses or your chemo buddy may help you out! When your session is over, tuck your games away in your chemo bag and roll on home.
9. Surf And NetworkGet out of the chemo room without walking away - use your computer, e-reader, smartphone or iPad to link to the network and connect with friends. Update your blog, email your supporters, search out your genealogy or get on a chat site and connect with other people! Organize your photo files or clean up your email inbox. If you get really absorbed in your tasks, the time may pass very quickly.
Use social media to get virtual support from other survivors.
10. Go To Dreamland
Some of the anti-nausea medications that are given before chemo can make you drowsy, so plan on napping. Bring along a small pillow, blanket, and eye mask (if light bothers you.) Your feet may get cold while reclining for so long, so if you sleep better without shoes, be sure to bring along some fuzzy, furry socks with non-slip soles. You can even bring your favorite teddy bear and tuck it under the blanket with you!