The other day, I walked by a small group of kids, standing outside of a shop. A little girl, about 8 years old, said to her friend: “You’re being a fun-sucker! I don’t want to be around you right now because you’re sucking out all of the fun!”.
Growing up, my friends and I used to create new words. Fun-sucker could have easily been one of ours. We also liked to create weird food combos like peanut butter, cheese, and mustard sandwiches. Sounds gross but if you like all three ingredients, the sandwich is pretty good.
“You’re being a fun-sucker!”
My immediate reaction was giggles. I was excited this little girl was leaning in and expressing herself. I felt sad for the little destroyer of fun who was apparently having a tough moment. As I kept walking, I thought about how some moments in life are downright fun-suckers. Cancer tops my list as King fun-sucker.
Making Cancer Fun?
It’s really important to me to have moments of fun as a way for Jeff and me to stay connected. There are plenty of ideas online to create “fun” during cancer treatment. Head shaving dates, wearing costumes to treatment or hosting end of treatment parties. I found a video of a patient dancing into her double mastectomy. She asked friends and family to dance to Beyoncé’s “Get Me Bodied” wherever they happened to be the morning of her surgery – a virtual dance party. I think these ideas help make cancer less scary, they create smiles, keep the hope engines revving and let family and friends know things are OK.
Fun with 3 C’s and a T: Champagne, Cartoons, Cards, and Travel
After initial diagnosis in 2014, Jeff and I celebrated with champagne after radiation treatment. Every day for 9 weeks, he signed into rads as a cartoon character. Marvin the Martian was the all-time team favorite. Every Friday, I gave him a little gift and card to mark another week down and sometimes, we’d hit our favorite bakery in Seattle and grab goodies for the weekend. My co-workers sent us a surprise box of FUN filled with toys – it was a great reminder to PLAY. When Jeff was able to travel, we went to Ireland. It was a bucket list adventure filled with fun. We didn’t talk about cancer once on the trip – not once. It felt normal.
When Jeff was re-staged with bone and liver mets, we had a head shaving date after his first chemotherapy session. During infusion, we listened to music and watched movies, played games and shared stories with the nurses. Friends sent cards (no flowers for chemo patients – immune system risk!) and a chemo survival kit to help us through the brutal treatment.
Jeff’s cancer isn’t slowing down (yet) and he’s struggling with daily pain, nausea, and fatigue. We seek fun. Walks, dinner out, hikes with the dogs, long trips – these are not possible right now.
When we define fun using our pre-cancer definition, we can get snarky and sad which doesn’t help. So we’ve decided to redefine fun as finding small, daily moments to connect.
UCLA’s Center for Integrative Oncology posted an article about “Fun Quotient” (FQ) and the importance of couples upping the FQ during cancer treatment. It basically says that improving your FQ is an important part of cancer treatment and that most people (cancer or not) could benefit from a higher FQ.
“Cancer treatment often requires a great deal of time and energy and must take priority over other activities. Life is reshuffled. It is not uncommon for patients and caregivers to become focused on the tasks of getting well as defined by their doctors and other medical professionals.
…Being involved with negative activities over time can whittle away at your sense of well-being and hope. This process also can arise for the same reasons and with the same intensity for family members and caregivers. Relationships that once were strong can be weakened if this negativity goes unchecked for long.”
Let’s Do This.
My coaching clients know I like visual triggers. They are helpful reminders when we want to accomplish something. So this morning, our trigger is front and center on the fridge:
“What’s our FQ for today? – Do It!”
Maybe tonight we’ll sit outside on the deck and play a fav song; watch a movie or catch up on a TV show. We also like to look at pictures from our travels and laugh about funny stories. We miss how active we used to be and are grateful there are many things we can still do to stay connected. We’re working on acceptance. But that’s another post 🙂
How are you upping your Fun Quotient? Leave me a comment!
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