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Cancer Survivor Says, 'I Just Want a Nap'

Two-time cancer survivor shares the happiness of naptime and her alternatives too. Your body has been through lots and deserves a nap.
PUBLISHED February 15, 2018
Barbara Tako is a breast cancer survivor (2010), melanoma survivor (2014) and author of Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools–We'll Get You Through This. She is a cancer coping advocate, speaker and published writer for television, radio and other venues across the country. She lives, survives, and thrives in Minnesota with her husband, children and dog. See more at,or
Would you like a nap, too? Cancer and its treatments take a lot out of a person. Are you feeling sleepy? Sleepy is not productive. If someone is sitting there being sluggish, who benefits? Sleepy is not creative. How can we come up with an innovative solution if we are tired? Sleepy is not accurate. If someone is in a foggy state, mistakes are more likely to happen. Sleepy is not efficient. How can someone figure out the best way to get something done when they are tired? Lastly, sleepy is not speedy. We tend to slow down when we are tired. It is the way we are designed.

We have learned much about the human body physiology and its cycles and rhythms. When we acknowledge the human construct and include that in the design of our buildings and workstations, and even eating habits, everyone benefits. Many years ago, an understanding employer allowed me, with my doctor’s note, to go take a nap in the on-site nurse’s office when I was in the final stages of pregnancy. It helped. Don’t cancer survivors deserve the same treatment?

When it comes to napping, some companies are catching on. They have added private nap rooms. Others haven’t. Some people go out to their cars during their lunch break to catch a snooze. There are more cancer survivors than ever who are living longer and coping with the after-effects of their cancers and their cancer treatments. By the way, it isn’t just about us, either. What about worn-out parents, people working two or more jobs, as well as the aging workforce? We all sometimes get worn down and as we age we are wearing out! Let’s accommodate naptime for everyone who would benefit from it. Employers would benefit then too!

My most recent employer had a quiet room for naps, breast-feeding, private phone calls or whatever was needed. Nice! Due to demand, they added a second one across the hall from the first one while I still worked there. Who would have thought that a little bit of compassion can actually be designed into a building’s structure?

Sometimes a nap isn’t possible. For me, there are also three nap alternatives: Water, movement and caffeine. I like my water at room-temperature, so I can quickly drink down 8 ounces or more without getting that terrible brain freeze “ice-cream headache.” It is amazing how many people, including me, confuse “tired” with “dehydrated,” especially in the middle of the afternoon.

Movement literally gets our juices going. Movement can be arm exercises at a desk, a brisk walk, indoors or outdoors—down the hall and back or once around the building, whatever is safe and doable. Movement can help a person feel alert and like a person again. Some employers offer exercise equipment in workout rooms.

Caffeine can come in many forms.  I like cold press coffee—16 ounces with a little soy milk. It is less acidic than regularly brewed coffee. It can be enjoyed hot or cold.  It is smooth, soothing, creamy and perks me up! What is your beverage option of choice when you need to perk up?

There are times, though, when you just want to give a body what it wants — a nap. Now, think about a cool cloudy gray rainy day with the window slightly cracked to hear the rain while you are tucked under a soft warm blanket. Oh yeah. Now you know what I am saying. 

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