It’s August. If you haven’t taken a summer vacation yet, it’s time. Too sick? Too broke? Too busy? The more cancer is weighing you down, the more you need a break. A vacation can renew your spirit and help restore your energy. But, you ask, how am I going to make this happen with all my doctor’s appointments, treatments, and budget woes?
Start by talking to your doctor. Find out the limits on what you can do right now. If you are on chemo, a vacation in a crowded city might not be the best idea while your immune system is low. Strenuous physical activity may not work right after surgery. I really wanted to have my annual beach trip while I was in treatment. The dates for the beach cottage we had reserved a year ahead of time turned out to be a week-and-a-half after my mastectomy. My doctor was fine with my taking the trip as long as we stopped every two hours so that I could take a walk and reduce my risk of post-surgical blood clots. I returned buoyed by time with family and friends at the ocean just in time for my chemotherapy. Checking with your doctor about what is appropriate is a crucial first step.
Your doctor can also give you some guidelines about what to do if a medical problem occurs while you are gone. Knowing what to look for as your radiation heals will set your mind at ease.
Choose activities that you enjoy in doses you can manage. Be selfish. If you usually do all the work on the family vacation while everyone else is off at the golf course, this year insist on changing the pace to the type of vacation you would prefer. However, be realistic about what you can do. You may love horseback riding or art museums, but while you are in treatment or recovering from treatment, you might need to plan for extra rest time. Build naps or some lazy days into your travel itinerary.
Doing something small is better than doing nothing at all. I was crushed when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to travel to see my family over Christmas vacation because of my radiation schedule. So my parents came to see me. During the day, we either hung out or did tourist things in our city until it was time for me to show up for my afternoon radiation treatment.
If medical treatments preclude a long trip, consider a week-end at a lovely inn an hour or two away. There are probably tourist spots in your town you have never been to because you have been too busy or because locals like you consider Mildred’s Museum of Magnolias a tourist trap. It might be fun to see what other people travel hundreds of miles to experience. The point is to create a break in your routine and get your mind off cancer for a while.
Lack of money needn’t stop you. Most cancer patients have to do some budget juggling. Reduced hours at work lead to a reduced pay check. Even good insurance plans often don’t cover increased copays and prescription costs. The money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is frequently the vacation budget. If your vacations have been lengthy splurges in exotic locations, you can probably just pare back a bit to make a vacation fit your budget. However, if funding a week away has always been a stretch, you may need to get really creative. Maybe some of these ideas will work for you.