Winter weather can cause additional challenges for someone going through cancer treatment, such as cold sensitivities, respiratory infections, dry cracked skin, and depression. Gwen Spector, Complex GI Nurse Navigator at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Medical City Healthcare, shares tips on how to navigate these challenges - just remember W-I-N-T-E-R.
These are general recommendations and do not take the place of your doctor’s instructions.
Winterize your wardrobe
- Be aware of the weather forecast before going outside.
- Dress in warm clothing and accessories, covering any exposed skin on your body including your head, hands, and neck. Layer clothes if needed.
- Spend as little time as possible outside in freezing temperatures.
Intercept germs before they can infect you
- Limit your exposure to people outside of your household.
- Follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for COVID-19 and infection prevention while on cancer treatment.
- Talk with your doctor about which immunizations you should get.
- Report fever and other signs of an infection to your doctor such as chills and sweats and change in or a new cough. For more information, visit 3 Steps Toward Preventing Infections During Cancer Treatment.
Nourish your skin from the inside out
- Drink plenty of fluids during the day; soups are a great choice in winter.
- Bathe for short periods of time using warm, not hot, water.
- Clean and moisturize your skin with mild, fragrance-free products.
Travel safely and wisely
- Get your doctor’s approval before making travel plans.
- Pack weather-appropriate clothes and more medications and supplies than you think you need.
- Keep medication in your carry-on bag and out of extreme temperatures.
- Get assistance from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) before flying.
Elevate your emotional health and fight off the blues
- Get enough sleep and rest every day.
- Spend time doing hobbies and activities that make you happy.
- Exercise your mind and body by walking and meditating; consider doing yoga.
- Connect virtually with your support network and with others who have been through a similar journey. Visit Coping with Cancer - Finding Social Support and Information at Cancer.Net for more information.
- Speak to your doctor if you need additional help.
Remember there are resources available to help you
- Call askSARAH 24/7 at (844) 482-4812 to speak to a nurse who is specially trained to help with your cancer questions or visit askSARAH.
- For up-to-date information or to talk with a cancer information specialist 24/7, visit the American Cancer Society or call (800) 227-2345.
- For support groups and free telephone counseling with an oncology social worker, visit CancerCare or call (800) 813-4673.
- For information on preventing infections, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- For personalized, local support resources, visit Wellist or call (855) 878-5024 to speak to a Wellist Patient Support Coordinator.