The Big Chill:Tips to Stay Safe and Warm During Winter Cancer Recovery

Winter has blown in with a vengeance and the thought of going outside is chilling! It would be ideal if we could hibernate like bears and wake up with the first warm breeze of spring! Staying indoors is not an option for women caught up in the rigid schedule of the cancer world; radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and doctors’ appointments.

Dressing to stay warm, dry, and sufficiently mobile to dodge a few low-flying snow balls can seem impossible. “Not true,” claims outdoor enthusiasts. Their secret? Layered clothing systems. Simply put, layering clothing and outerwear for warmth, protection, and comfort.

Here’s how:

Use many warm, thin layers of clothing versus a few thick or heavy ones. Heavy clothes will create bulk and be restrictive.

1. Start with a thin, wicking layer next to your skin.

Choose fabrics like nylon, silk or polyester, which have wicking properties. Wicking materials draw moisture away from the skin and into the fabric to keep you drier. Avoid cotton.

2. Add polyester or fleece as a second layer for insulation.

The purpose of this layer is to keep heat in and cold out. Think sweatshirts and vests.

3. Finish with a waterproof, wind-resistant layer.

This exterior layer is meant to protect and guard against the elements.

Keeping exposed skin protected is always important, but during radiation or chemotherapy treatment, skin can become ultra-sensitive, dry, damaged, and irritated. When choosing the rest of your winter attire–opt for mittens or gloves that are made from waterproof, breathable fabrics. Gloves shouldn’t fit too tight. A little extra room at the tip provides extra insulation.

Even if you have a coat with a hood, you’ll want to be sure your head, ears, neck, and lower face are adequately covered. Block the wind and chill with a soft, close fitting, beanie-style cap or cap with ear flaps, (function over style here) and a warm scarf. This is particularly important if you are experiencing hair loss.

And as always–wear sunscreen. Sunscreen is a must, year-round.

Once you are back inside your home, have a big glass of water. Hot coffee and hot cocoa are delicious but they can also be dehydrating.   Now for the best part…cover yourself with a cozy throw and settle in for a restorative, fatigue-fighting nap. Those sleeping bears have nothing on us.

For more skincare tips and clothing suggestions during radiation and chemotherapy-Visit our website,

Stay dry, safe and warm!

Photo Credit:CBS News/Getty Images

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