My son, Cooper, had a very low acute neutrophil count (ANC) for much of his cancer treatment. As a result, his immune system was compromised, and the doctors instructed us, “Avoid crowds and obviously sick people.”
But a person can only stay in the house for so long. So, here are a few ways we discovered 5 fun things to do out on the town when your child with cancer can’t be around anyone.
1. Find A Deserted Park.
We have a park one block from our home, and it’s awesome. It has great, new play structures and all the swings your heart could desire. But it’s also crawling with kids pretty much all day.
Cooper and I used to walk by feeling like park exiles, until one day we discovered an old park in another part of town. It wasn’t much to look at, but the kids loved it because it was new to them.
I loved it because I never had to worry about it being crowded. The boys still call it the “cancer park” and ask to go there sometimes—even though my son’s off treatment.
2. Go To The Airport.
We don’t live in Omaha, but a lot of times we had to stay in town. The medical team didn’t want us too far away from the hospital with Cooper’s ANC so low. A friend suggested we go to the airport for entertainment.
We would park at the top of the parking garage in a secluded corner, and watch airplanes land and take off for hours.
It was close enough to the action that it gave the kiddos—and even us—a fun thrill, but far enough away from people that it was still safe. As an added bonus, it was free.
3. Go “Out” To Eat.
We loved to go to the drive-thru and then have a picnic. When Cooper’s counts were low, we became pretty creative about where we could “picnic.”
When we were traveling, we liked to find a parking lot on the edge of town or some place with nice scenery. Then we’d park, roll down the windows, and eat in the car. At home, we’d mix it up by eating in places we usually didn’t, like the front porch or in a tent the kids built.
4. Go On A Nature Hike.
Maybe you’ve heard the doctors say, “Outside is your friend.” They always told us we didn’t have to worry as much about germs from other people when we were outside. So, going for a walk was a wonderfully simple, inexpensive way to ease the claustrophobia of isolation.
Let them cross off the squares when they see the animals. And if they get a Bingo, they can have a treat when you get home.
When it starts getting cold, turn it into a nature drive rather than a nature walk.
5. Go To A Movie.
This is something we could do when Cooper’s counts were low, but not critically low, and of course, he had to wear a mask. However, it was a wonderful treat that allowed us all to feel a little more normal for a few hours.
The trick was avoiding crowds. The best time of day to go is a weekday matinee. Also, I would recommend calling the movie theatre ahead of time to see if there is a special place you could sit.
In our hometown, there’s a balcony where typically only staff are allowed. When Cooper was on treatment, they let our family sit up there.
Isolation can be very stressful, but with a little creativity, there are a few ways to make it less miserable. Hopefully, these ideas will help.