Finding Stability

How Cancer Patients Can Accommodate for Big Life Events

Cancer doesn't mean your life is put on hold. With a little extra planning, cancer patients can join family and friends in celebrating graduations, weddings, reunions, concerts and other big events.

A cancer diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean cancer patients need to confine themselves to their homes. Holiday events, graduations, weddings, concerts and reunions keep happening despite your illness. Even though you have cancer, you still can engage in a wide range of social activities throughout treatment. The trick is to do extra planning.

Talk to Your Doctor

The first step is to talk to your doctor. In most cases, a big event like a reunion shouldn’t be a problem, but some patients may need to take extra precautions or even avoid crowds altogether. Your doctor wants you to engage in life, to live as well as you can while you go through treatment. Ask if there are any special safeguards you need to consider while partaking in these events. Are there any travel restrictions? Can your immune system handle being around lots of people? Should you avoid sitting up high in the stands? Come with a list of questions, no matter how random. Once you have some guidelines from your medical team, you’re ready to plan.

Plan Ahead

Cancer treatment can take a toll on your endurance, energy level and resilience. As much as you want to have fun, your energy may fade more quickly than those around you. Allow yourself plenty of rest time beforehand and have an exit strategy. Make sure you have a willing ride home whenever you need to go, and leave before you’re completely exhausted. Your body will thank you for that later.

Talk to the event planners and family members involved. What is involved in the event? How much would you be expected to participate? Will there be enough opportunities for you to rest? How much travel is involved? Questions such as these will help you make a plan. You may decide to modify your participation, for instance, by skipping the long hours sitting in the stadium during the graduation ceremony and attending the party afterwards instead.

Bring a Friend

It’s good to have a sidekick for these events, especially if you can bring someone who will be there for you and isn’t fully invested in the event itself. If you bring a friend who’s interested in your well-being, you’re more likely to have a good time and not overtax your body. A friend can also help you negotiate an exit when others want you to stay and make sure you have a way to rest and rehydrate your body when you need it.

Know How to Say “No”

Your doctor may advise that you don’t go, or you just may not feel like going. Taking care of your body is your first priority right now. It can be difficult to say no and disappoint your friends and family. It might be tempting to give a long drawn out explanation, but saying no is enough. You have cancer, and you need to take care of yourself. Don’t let them try to change your mind or make you feel guilty. If you’re having difficulty saying no, discuss the issue with a friend. This is a great time to call in your sidekick to help you craft a firm but kind “no thank you” message. Do your best to sell your ticket or find someone to tape the event for you if possible. Also inquire, if you desire, about other ways you can celebrate with loved ones.

There’s a good chance you can still find a way to participate in these major life events. Coordinate with your doctor, family and friends to ensure you have the time of your life.

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Judy Schwartz Haley
Judy Schwartz Haley