The effects of cancer treatment are exhausting and gruelling enough on their own. Now add in the summer sunshine. The heat, the UV rays, the longer and brighter days - all things to add to the treatment struggle.
So how can you or a loved one best prepare for treatment during the sunny months?
Protect your skin from the sun
- Stick to the shade whenever possible, especially between 11am and 3pm when the sun is highest in the sky.
- Use sunscreen - Cancer Research UK recommend buying a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 (UVB protection), and one with a high star rating with at least 4 stars (UVA protection)
- Cover up - We all know that the sun's rays can be damaging to the skin (and can even cause cancer) but skin being exposed to cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy is even more delicate and sensitive. Try to cover up as much as you can when out in the sun, particularly any areas being treated, to prevent the skin drying out and become sore.
Defiant Beauty's range of skin balms are safe to use during treatment and can help to keep the skin soft and smooth (but please note these are NOT a replacement for sunscreen.)
Many chemotherapy drugs lead to hair loss, which can leave the scalp more vulnerable to the effects of the sun. Our soft Bold Beanies are made of 100% cotton, so are light and breathable in the heat, and can be worn under hot and itchy wigs too. Or take a look at our pretty headscarves and berets, perfect for a cooler evening. You can see our headwear for men, women and children here.
I started my combined chemo-radiotherapy treatment in the same week as England's heatwave last summer - good timing! Not only was I feeling rotten and didn't feel up to going out, but my body couldn't stand the heat. I found the following bits and pieces really useful
- Keep a pocket fan with you - whether that's an electric hand held one or a make-shift piece of paper, always have something within arms reach to create a breeze when the heat suddenly hits.
- Try a Cooling Pillow - these Cooling Relief Pillows provide instant relief from being hot and bothered. It helps keep you cool throughout the day and night and can be used with a normal pillow to aid a better quality of sleep. Fantastic for headaches, sunburn, hot feet, hot flushes and to combat high temperatures caused by ailments or medication.
- Take on plenty of fluids - this is good advice for everyone when it's hot, but even more important during treatment when you're not feeling well and may be struggling to eat and drink. Sip water, down juice or suck on ice pops, whatever works. If you feel really poorly, try Queasy Drops. Available in a variety of flavours, these natural anti-sickness sweets helped to settle my tummy (as well as get rid of the horrible chemo taste in my mouth) and let me eat and drink. They're also great for travel sickness on holiday!
- Use a face or body spritz - much like a hand held fan, this was an essential for me. Defiant Beauty's Hydrating Facial Spritz and Trust's Cooling Face, Scalp and Body Mist are perfect for popping in your hospital or handbag to keep you cool on the go.
- Wear light clothing - something light and easy to get on and off is important when you feel tired and weak during treatment. But having something loose fitting in the summer heat, like our cotton kimonos, is essential. Our button front pyjamas are not only soft and light, but perfect for those who have had surgery and have a limited movement. You can see our full range of nightwear here.
Rest when you need to, and when you can
The summer days are hot, bright and long, and the nights are often not much better. Cancer treatment is hard on your body and can leave you feeling tired as your body fights to protect itself, but the heat can make it hard to sleep.
- Nap when you can - an afternoon nap became part of my routine and was essential for me to make it through the day! An Eye Mask really helped to keep the sunshine out and let me catch a quick kip.
- Relax before bed - the hot nights can make it tricky to wind down and drift off. Defiant Beauty's Relaxing Pillow Spray is a natural sleep aid that includes lavender, known for it's calming effects and helped me relax before bed. Why not team with Beefayre Bee Calm Candles or Hand Cream to help the scent linger.
For more information on keeping safe in the sun this summer, visit Cancer Research UK's website.