Summertime with MBC and COVID-19
It’s officially summertime! What does that look like for us metastatic folk in the age of COVID-19? The same as it does for anyone else, but perhaps with a few twists...
Metastatic breast cancer treatment
Firstly, summer plans may have to cater to your treatment schedule. Personally, I go to the hospital each Monday or Tuesday for my infusions, with one "off week" per month. I plan for two big "outdoor" days on my infusion weeks, with daily walks and easy jaunts peppered in between. Whether it is playing fetch with my puppy in a cool creek, or simply walking up to grab a drink with friends on a Saturday night, I keep myself moving! I may not be hiking Everest, but I am still out, enjoying the weather, and keeping active.
What about a summer vacation?
I, too, like to take the quintessential summer vacation. This is usually planned around my "off week". Last month, I drove to neighboring New Mexico for the weekend and had a blast hiking the Rio Grande with friends! I truly felt my best and had enormous energy. Next month I am going on a family road trip to the Pacific Northwest, with my doctor’s approval to start that cycle one week late to accommodate my plans. I do not make any plans that interfere with my treatment without my doctor’s approval and recommend that others do the same. Additionally, I avoid areas where there are high peaks of Coronavirus, or where people are not wearing masks and social distancing. I may not be flying anywhere far thanks to COVID-19, but jumping in the car and heading somewhere awesome is, in many ways, even more enjoyable.
Treatment side effects
Don’t forget about the treatment side effects! This includes - for most treatments for advanced breast cancer - the need to stay hydrated and out of the sun, both of which are crucial during the summer! Don’t forget our bodies have different needs than they did in previous summers. I wear sunscreen, try and keep my skin covered in light clothing, wear a sun hat, and always carry cool, filtered water with me. One summer when I was on Xeloda I forgot to do this and I came home with a face full of freckles, the likes of which I had never seen before. Chemotherapy can really do a number on our skin, and the sun can exacerbate that. Keep yourself safe while outside!
Wear masks and wash my hands
Summertime shenanigans can still be had. This summer, social situations are particularly tricky with COVID-19 still lurking. I go out to most places, but always wear my mask and wash my hands regularly. Try to avoid crowds and coming into close contact with people, especially if you are immunocompromised. In lieu of attending large parties my family and I host small, intimate gatherings such as picnics and backyard barbecues, and it is just as much fun as any other summer!
While this summertime may look a bit different, whether it be from living with advanced breast cancer, through COVID-19, or both, there is still a lot of fun to be had and memories to be made!
None of us know how many summers we are going to have, so my advice is to make the most of yours, in whatever way you can. You won’t regret it.
How have you been enjoying your summer?
Have you gained new friends in your metastatic cancer journey?