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A man watches TV while he sits on a sofa in a birds nest

Nesting and Having A Recovery Space

One of the recent topics being talked about around here is making a nest, and I have to say I’m all for it. Now, In Katelynn’s wonderful article, they talk about building an actual nest with pillows and warm blankets and twigs. OK, not that last one, but you get the idea. I want to talk about nesting, though, in a bit more abstract terms, because we all do it, knowingly or otherwise, and it plays an important part in our treatment and recovery.

Creating a home base

Of course, when I say “nest,” images of a cozy little bundle-up spot on the couch or bed come to mind, and I have to say it sounds super warm and snuggly, and I am here for it. The thing is, if we zoom out for the 10,000 foot view, I think we all do some nesting when we are living with cancer, and especially when going through chemo. We create a “home base” of sorts, where we feel most comfortable and safe, and it is a necessary part of the physical and mental battle called cancer.

Everyone is going to have a different definition of their “perfect” cancer home base safe space. Whether it’s a video game and movie paradise, a cozy reading nook with a knitted blanket, or a “no gurlz allowed” sign, whatever your secret fort of relief may be, it is the place you look forward to whenever the slings and arrows of cancer become too much to bear. Since I can’t guess what your space may be, I’ll describe mine in hopes that it helps you to design your own. There may be some things you like and some you don’t, but you’ll get the general idea and hopefully see why it is so important.

My fortress from cancer

My cancer fortress of solitude was and still is a room with a long couch with a space to lay out on one end. The couch itself is soft, but to make it really cozy, I had to add pillows. I mean a lot. Like, absolutely lousy with pillows. Enough pillows to make Humpty Dumpty himself want to join a mosh pit. Pillows for my back, pillows for a makeshift armrest, pillows to put on the ottoman – just pillows. You get it. Next, there are two blankets, one I bought and one that was knitted for me. Why? Because the knitted one is a little breezy, let’s say, so I need a layer underneath to keep the wind from blowing through. Also, I have to make sure it’s big enough to tuck under my feet because who likes cold toes?

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Mix in man-cave elements

As for things to do in this small, cozy, room, there is a 75 inch television shoehorned in because, yeah, I’m still a dude. Cars or televisions, most of us guys still like to have at least one of those things ridiculously overdone. My ex-partner called it “obscene” and, yeah, I’m pretty much fine with that. Of course, you can’t have a screen like that without a PlayStation to go with it and a collection of action movies to watch, so that’s there as well.

To top it all off there is a computer in the corner in case I want to do some writing or just peruse the processed sugar and deep-fried junk food for your eyes called social media on a screen larger than my phone. Coming up in-between two of the couch cushions is every kind of charging wire I could possibly need, with every format known to mankind represented – USB-C, USB-A, micro USB, Apple Lightning and even USB-mini-B in case I want to charge a cell phone from 1995. I like to cover my bases. Finally, the room is topped off with a TV tray table that I use to keep all my remote controls and eat my dinner off of.

Everyone's nesting space suits themselves

That is my happy place. It’s where I go to shut out the weary world and turn off the stress that comes with living with cancer. Now, your space may look nothing like mine and you might even think that my space sounds like the ninth ring of Hell. Especially so, if you don’t like a lot of visual and auditory stimulation. That’s fine, though, because you can make your space however you like! It doesn’t even have to be a place you inhabit yourself! If your comfort is being around other people, then make your space in the family kitchen or living room. Whatever it is that you enjoy, it’s important you have a sanctuary filled with at least some of those things that you can escape to when you come home from chemo, or when you wake up and the fatigue is overwhelming, or when someone tells you for the nth time that you should just eat more turmeric.

I know you probably think that having a space is common sense, but it may not be so for some. Parents, especially, who have families to take care of, don’t do this. I find that when I ask if they have a place for themselves, to go rest and recover from the trials of cancer, they respond “I don’t have time for that.” The thing is, having a space to go is just as important as the chemo and medical treatment – if you can’t take at least an hour or two to de-stress and process what’s happening to you, the chance of a positive outcome can be decreased. Making a nest is important, so make the time! Talk soon.

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