Summer Tips For Cancer Patients

by Jane Ashley

Ahh … summer. For many people, summer is our favorite season of the year. But if we’re in active treatment for cancer, there are some precautions that we need to take to ensure we enjoy summer safely.

Sun Protection

Wear light-weight clothing. Avoid polyester and other synthetic fibers. Wear light-weight cotton that breathes.

Avoid mid-day sun exposure. Some chemotherapy drugs cause sun sensitivity. Radiation treatments may make patients more prone to serious sunburn. Err on the side of caution and wear sunscreen and UV-protective clothing.

Don’t go barefoot. Several chemotherapy drugs cause chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). CIPN can cause numbness in the feet — you could injure your foot without noticing it. Chemo can also cause low white cell counts so that a tiny scratch could lead to a big infection.

Drink plenty of fluids. Drinking lots of fluids are essential when we are on chemo. But excessive heat leads to dehydration. Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeinated beverages like iced tea and cola drinks — they can cause hot flashes and lead to more dehydration.

Keep cool if you are fatigued. Heat worsens fatigue. If you are tired, stay in an air-conditioned room. If you must be outside, avoid the middle of the day and stay in a shady area.

Avoid pools and hot tubs. Chemotherapy and radiation cause skin sensitivity. The chemicals used in pools, spas and hot tubs may irritate your skin. Don’t swim in community pools if you are immunocompromised. If you’re on strong chemo, just don’t take the chance of picking up a dangerous infection. Postpone swimming until next season.

Use extreme caution at the beach or the lake. Warm water harbors more bacterial. A tiny scratch or cut could introduce a potentially-fatal bacterial infection into your bloodstream. Again, it’s best to postpone trips to the beach or lake until after treatment ends.

Wear garden gloves when gardening or pulling weeds. Scratches and small cuts on your hands are a conduit for germs to get into your blood stream. Take a couple of extra minutes and put on those garden gloves when weeding or trimming bushes.

Wear a cotton scarf, not a wig. If you’ve lost your hair, swap out your wig for a light-weight cotton scarf or turban. Wigs are heavy and hot. If you’re a man and have lost your hair, be sure to wear sunscreen on your head – it will be especially sensitive to sunburn.

Take a cool shower before bed. If you’re experiencing hot flashes at night, a cool shower just before going to bed helps prevent those 2 am hot flashes.

Cool Shower

Wear sunglasses. Some of the pre-meds given before chemotherapy make it more likely to develop cataracts. Exposure to UV rays increase the risk of cataracts so wear good-quality sunglasses whenever you’re out in the sun or driving. If you already wear glasses, the “wear-over” sunglasses fit right over your regular glasses and are comfortable. Some chemo drugs can make you sensitive to light so be sure to wear your sunglasses on bright, sunny days.

Picnic Safety

Picnic safety. If you’re neutropenic (extremely low blood counts), be extra careful of the food that you eat. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables unless they have been peeled. Be at the first of the line so that chilled food is still cold. Heat may trigger heart burn or nausea so bring your antacid or anti-nausea medicine with you.

Related Articles

What is Neutropenia and Why I Should Follow a Neutropenic Diet

What is Chemo Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

Coping With Cancer Treatments Through Summer

Question - Which do you prefer, considering your cancer side effects, the cold of Winter or the heat of Summer? 

Join us at WhatNext and get support getting through your own cancer diagnosis and treatments. Compare your journey with others, ask questions about issues you are facing, and get inspiration and motivation to get through each day. It's free to register but priceless to be a member! Watch the video below to see how WhatNext can help you.

Click To Join Us At What Next (1)

Blog Home