Do You Need a Vacation From Cancer?

by Brian English

Everyone needs a vacation. And perhaps no one needs a vacation more than cancer patients. But not necessarily the gentle island breezes and swaying palm trees sort of vacation; patients need an emotional and mental vacation from just dealing with the disease.

Take A Vacation From Cancer


Cancer can be all consuming. From the moment of diagnosis onward, it seems to be the nonstop topic of conversation. You talk about cancer. The changes in your life are about cancer. It’s always there, close to the surface, not quite in the back of your mind.

It’s a natural reaction. But it’s also an unhealthy one. Fighting cancer is a full time job and then some. And like any job, you need to take a break every once in a while to recharge. Taking your mind off cancer may not cure the disease, but it sure feels good. And the benefits are real. New York’s University of Rochester Medical Center URMC even lists “distraction” as an alternative therapy for cancer.

But of course, when you have cancer, going back into the hospital – even if it is for a “distraction” therapy such as music or dance – is pretty low on your list. Besides, you don’t need someone with a medical degree to tell you how to enjoy yourself. And that’s what taking your mind off of cancer is all about – enjoyment. Fun. Living.


Walk with friends. Walk with your dog. Heck, even walk with your cats (yes, some people do). Any sort of exercise, no matter how minor, has incredible benefits for your mind. It’s a chance to collect yourself and breathe deep. “Walking is my therapy,” writes WhatNexter NadaChance. “I take an hour a day away from everything and just walk. It clears my head.”

Walking To Clear Your Head


Get Outside

Meditation and communing with the outdoors can be tremendously peaceful. Your reason for being outside can vary – whether you’re gardening, or fishing, or just taking in nature, the benefits are the same. After all, the outdoors are the very opposite of the hospital. There’s no poking, prodding, beeping, or tests. Just the sun, the gentle breezes and the amazing views. Id_105’s therapy is “sitting on the promenade just before sunset and watching the boats pass.” Just reading about it is relaxing and soothing; imagine the effect of the real thing.

Watching The Boats Pass



Whether you enjoy simple card games or high-tech PC shooters, games can be an excellent escape for your mind. “When I got the chance, I played Dungeons and Dragons ,” writes WhatNexter JohnG. “Nothing took my mind off of things like spending six hours pretending to be a Hobbit.”

Dungeons And Dragons Dvd Boxset Art



If you want to get your voice out there, there’s no better way than blogging. It’s an exciting way to connect with other people and even build a community. These days, blogs are easier than ever to create. With just a few keystrokes at a site like, you can soon be sharing your thoughts with everyone across cyberspace. You can share you passion about a hobby, about politics, about movies – there are literally no limits.



And though the blog entry you’re reading right now is about taking your mind off of cancer, the therapeutic potential of creating a blog about your own personal fight against the disease can’t be discounted. As a WhatNexter yourself, you’ve experienced first hand the support and camaraderie of a blog community; sharing your own experience with other cancer patients is not only cathartic but can also help other cancer patients through their own struggles – and that can be incredibly fulfilling.

Book Clubs

Getting lost in a good book is an obvious way to put the world of cancer at the back of your mind. And the distraction potential of books increases when you join a book club. Local book clubs and reading groups are easy to find these days. You may already have a circle of friends who have a book club. But think about joining a new book club whose members don’t know about your illness. This can open the way for endless hours of non-cancer-related conversations.

Book Club


Binge Watching

Sometimes your treatments can leave you too tired to concentrate on reading. But the TV is always there for you, and with the advent of on-demand streaming entertainment services like Netflix and Hulu, hours of entertainment are at your fingertips. To watch multiple seasons of a TV series – literally years of entertainment – in just a week’s time. This kind of obsessive viewing is called “binge watching.” Whether you’re into documentaries, movies, or TV series, there are many fascinating programs that can suck you in for days. That’s right: days.



Do That Thing You’ve Always Wanted to Get Around To

WhatNexter DonA writes that he always wanted to digitize his collection of vinyl LPs. So he did. The process of listening to all the old albums and then loading them into iTunes had a therapeutic effect. Everyone has something that they’ve always wanted to get around to. Sort through those family photos. Sorting through piles of old family photos is a great activity that can put a smile on your face and keep your mind busy. Why not take that mess of a recipe folder and finally type up all those old favorite recipes and create your own cookbook of family favorites? These and other small personal projects are ideal ways to keep your mind busy.

Go Do That Thing


As you’ve probably guessed, this is just a short list of the countless ways to kick cancer to the back of your mind for a much-needed mental health break. The key is to follow your passion. Diving back into long-loved hobbies and interests will help clear your mind for even a little while, and power your spirit for the days ahead.

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