Cancer is boring. There, I said it. Chemotherapy is literally the most monotonous, boring activity I have ever faced. It’s almost too easy to get caught in a depressed state, frustrated by your lack of energy and ability to do anything remotely interesting. Small things start to bug you- the incessant clicking of your infusion pump, the sterile smell of latex gloves, and the nagging feeling that you life is passing you by. While you can always turn to your good friend Netflix, I found that the best way for me to stay emotionally upbeat was to find small activities to challenge my brain that helped get me through the day. Here is a list of things that got me through chemotherapy and the time at home in between hospital visits:

  1. Puzzles

Not having a purpose during treatment is really hard to deal with. While I was home in between my rounds of chemotherapy, it was empowering to have something physical that I could work on. My creative outlet became puzzling. Puzzles are great because they’re easy to start and stop at any point. If I started a puzzle at home and couldn’t finish it before I had to go back to chemotherapy, it was always waiting for me to pick up where I left off. It’s also easy to multitask while puzzling, and is a great time to listen to music and podcasts.

  1. Learn to play an instrument

Before my diagnosis I dabbled in guitar, but never committed to the instrument. The down time during chemotherapy was an opportunity to try to become a better musician.  I learned that there are so many teaching tools online that make it easy to teach your self. Unfortunately, about half way through my chemotherapy, the neuropathy in my fingers became too painful to keep playing. However, I did learn a lot while I was able to play! A more hospital- friendly instrument choice could be a ukulele or a harmonica.

  1. Re-design your room

I was diagnosed with cancer during college, and had to return home for treatment. Returning to my childhood room after having a taste of freedom at school was a big let down. I decided to make it a project to re-design my room, and I tried to make it a place that I could relax and enjoy. It was so much fun to spend hours online shopping for the perfect pieces to transform my room. I highly recommend checking out Pinterest for inspiration!

  1. Trivia Games

Another way I kept my mind busy was by brushing up on my trivia knowledge. There are lots of different types of trivia games depending on your skill level. For beginners, try trivia apps such as Trivia Crack. This was one of my favorite games to play because I could challenge my friends at school. If you’re more advanced, I recommend crossword puzzles or trying to play along with episodes of Jeopardy.

  1. Paint By Numbers

When I was younger, I loved playing with coloring books. Unfortunately, I don’t have an artistic bone in my body, and I never been much of an artist. If you’re like me, have no fear- paint by numbers for adults exist- and they can be super challenging! I spent hours painting intricate scenes, and felt accomplished when I was done. This was great when I wanted to do a physical activity but my neuropathy prevented me from playing guitar or puzzling.

I hope these are helpful ideas if you are looking for inspiration during chemotherapy. Please comment below if you have any more ideas you’d like to share!

Rebecca Hoffman
Rebecca is a senior at Northeastern University studying Environmental Science. She’s passionate about conservation, and is happiest spending time outdoors. Her favorite activities include running, boxing, reading, and completing jigsaw puzzles with her friends. Rebecca was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in September 2014, and is proud to share her experiences balancing college life and her battle with cancer.