Hester Hill Schnipper Photo courtesy of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

IN THE DAYS AND WEEKS before starting cancer treatment, you might find your mind going to all the frightening unknowns, including the side effects of treatment, the impact of your diagnosis on loved ones, and the question of whether you will go on to live a long and happy life.

With so much seemingly out of your control, it may feel daunting to plan for the coming days. The following list provides some strategies to consider as you prepare for treatment. When reading these suggestions, keep in mind that what works for one person may not resonate with someone else, but the general theme of being generous and gentle to yourself always applies.

1) Make your home as inviting as possible. For example, since you may be spending more time than usual in bed, you might think about ways to make the bedroom more comfortable by rearranging the furniture or buying a new quilt and high-thread-count sheets. Consider the decor in your room and what you might like to look at on hard days. Clear the clutter.

2) Make a list of meals you like to eat that you can make in advance. Freeze these meals in individual serving bags, marking the date and contents.

3) Ask friends if they are available for rides to appointments, grocery runs and assistance with household tasks, such as cleaning and washing sheets and towels.

4) Create a profile on a caregiving coordination website that lets loved ones sign up for tasks on specific days and times. (For specific recommendations, see “Caring for the Caregiver.”

5) If you don’t already have one, sign up for a library card so you can borrow books and movies. Library reader apps, such as Libby and Hoopla, allow you to borrow electronic books from your library with a valid library card number. 

6) Gather materials for small projects. You might, for example, gather all the clothes that you have been meaning to mend or print out photos to make an album.

7) Create a playlist with your favorite songs so you can listen anytime you need.

8) Ask friends for engrossing podcast recommendations you can tune in to during treatment.

9) Experiment with meditation or other ways to calm your mind that you might continue to practice during treatment.

10) Fill a box or basket with activities, such as puzzles or playing cards. 

11) Make a list of activities that you might like to try for the first time. The novelty of a new hobby or project can be invigorating.

12) Write down activities that bring you joy, such as visits with friends, walks along the beach or a trip to your favorite restaurant. Resolve to continue these traditions as you are able.

13) Things will not go as planned but know you can and will make it through these days.

Hester Hill Schnipper, a licensed independent clinical social worker, is a breast cancer survivor who served as the manager of oncology social work at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.