4 Ways to Make Valentine’s Day Special During Cancer Treatment

If your loved one is journeying through a cancer diagnosis, Valentine’s Day may very well be spent in the hospital, a rehab center, or at home recovering between treatments. You’ve probably already been warned of the several things you shouldn’t do: don’t send a bouquet of flowers, as cancer patients can be especially sensitive to smells, odors or even allergies; don’t share a box of sugary treats that ignore the nutritional aspect of the cancer journey; and don’t try to plan a big night out that would increase fatigue or compromise an already suppressed immune system.

But never fear. There are several beautiful things you can do to show your loved one the care and support they need on Valentine's Day.

1. Cook a Romantic (and Healthy) Meal At Home

You don’t need a big night out to communicate your love and support–but an evening at home doesn’t have to be business-as-usual either. Light candles, put on background music, and dress for the occasion.

Then you can kick off dinner with an arugula, avocado and tomato salad, like this one from Heal With Food, followed up by a main course of Greek roasted chicken and root vegetables. Finish with a dessert that isn’t too sugary (but still delicious), like these melt-in-your-mouth bounty bites.

2. Plan a Movie Night or Binge Marathon

If cooking a complete homemade meal adds to the stress rather than reducing it, try something different. Order takeout from your significant other’s favorite restaurant. (Keep in mind that certain cancer treatments can affect both taste and appetite–adjust accordingly. What may have been true for years could have shifted. Help them feel comfortable as they navigate these changes.)

Will it be a movie or do you binge that show the two of you have been waiting to see?

3. Focus On Relaxation and Self-Care

The cancer journey can be exhausting, full of emotional and physical work. A little relaxation is rejuvenating, relaxing, and healing. Both men and women can benefit from self-care. Put together a basket that includes everything your loved one needs for a comfortable DIY spa night that can be enjoyed at home or in the hospital. Look for organic and unscented body scrubs, face masks, lotions and more. Set the atmosphere with a zen playlist and an essential oil diffuser. Here are some additional ideas for a refreshing self-care kit:

  • Thick socks, pajama set or a new robe
  • Your favorite romantic movie
  • Favorite (healthy) snacks
  • Refreshing teas
  • Unscented lotions or hand creams
  • Candles
  • Stuffed animal
  • For women, unscented and non-toxic nail polish in red or pink for Valentine’s Day

Cancer patient celebrating Valentine's Day at home, relaxing with spouse

4. Turn Off The Electronics

This may be one of my favorites. (And it can be combined, at least in part, with any of the above.) Turn off your phones, laptops and TV. Spend time in the present. Look at photo albums, reminisce about some of your favorite times together, or play a board game.

Ban the word cancer, and invent quirky but fun consequences for breaking the rule. For example – You’ve heard the reprimand “Hold your tongue!” This time you have to do it, literally. Hold your tongue between two fingers for something under a minute.

It’s The Little Things

You don’t have to re-create a fantastical Disney love-story. Above all else, throw expectations out the window and focus on spending quality time together, filled with comfort and love.

You get the idea. It’s the little things that matter most.