Surviving With Cancer During Summer Months

June is National Cancer Survivor Month, recognizing the more than 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States. This month also marks the beginning of summer, when many people take vacations and enjoy time outdoors. Surviving with cancer during the summer months means taking extra care. For cancer patients and survivors, this can be a difficult time. The increased sunlight can cause skin problems for those undergoing radiation therapy or chemotherapy. And for those who are in remission, the temptation to over-indulge during vacation can be hard to resist. But it doesn’t have to be all work and no play this summer! There are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself while still mindful of your health. Here are some tips for having fun without compromising your recovery.

Stay hydrated – Staying hydrated is vital for your health, especially in the summer when there’s extreme heat. Many people who are cancer patients or recovering from treatment learn that drinking enough water can be challenging due to side effects like not wanting food or beverages; however, getting adequate amounts will help keep you feeling energized while regulating body temperature, joint function and help your blood supplement nutrients and oxygen. What’s your favorite summer drink to keep you cool?

Avoiding being in direct sunlight – Avoiding midday summer exposure is important as the sun is the brightest between 10 am – 4 pm. As a cancer patient or a former patient, your skin can be sensitive from chemotherapy and radiation. If in the sun, apply sunblock and reapply every two hours. Avoid tanning beds as well as they can cause skin cancer, patients who have undergone chemotherapy and use tanning beds are more likely to develop skin cancer.

Avoiding swimming pools – Do you love to swim? Of course, you may want to go for a dip in the pool to cool off in the warmer weather; however, you should check with your provider before doing so as chemicals in the pool, such as chlorine can cause some irritation as the skin can still be sensitive from radiation treatments.

Stay cool – Trying to stay cool is essential; being in the heat for too long can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion and stroke can include:

  • Muscle cramping
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Increased sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Fever
  • To avoid this happening to you, try taking breaks from sitting outside for long periods and sipping cool drinks.

    Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors and relax, but it’s important to be mindful of your cancer recovery. Try to stay hydrated, avoid swimming pools, and stay cool. And most importantly, avoid being in direct sunlight for too long. What are your favorite summer activities? Share with us in the comments below.