I Had to Retire. Now What Do I Do with My Time?

Last updated: March 2021

Way too many of us find that we can no longer continue to work at an 8-5 job after we are diagnosed with cancer. Besides the challenges of having to miss work all of the time to go to doctor's appointments and to have regular scans and infusions, many of us simply no longer feel good enough to be able to go to work every day.

Retirement setbacks

For me, deciding to quit working was difficult. I didn't have quite enough time in to receive my full social security benefits and I didn't have quite enough time in to get my full teacher retirement benefits either. So, when I quit working, our income took a major hit.

No money meant a real lifestyle change. I know I am not the only person who has faced this particular challenge.wel

What to do with all this free time?

Since I turned 20, I have worked at least one job and frequently two. My career was very important to me. Leaving it behind was not an easy thing to do. For one thing, what had consumed many hours of my day was no longer part of it at all.

For the first time in nearly 40 years, I had time on my hands. The question became, now what? How do I fill the hours, especially since I have no discretionary funds?

My go-to ways to fill the hours

My to-do list grows longer every day! I have been retired for about 4-1/2 years now and trust me when I say that I have more things I want to do than I have hours to do them. I thought I would share some of them with you, in case you're still at the point that you're searching for fun, yet inexpensive, ways to entertain yourself.

  1. Read. Or, if you're like me and have a hard time concentrating when reading, listen to audiobooks. I can lose myself for many hours in a good audiobook. They're expensive to purchase, but I bet you can rent them from your public library. That's how I get mine. It is so convenient. I don't even have to leave home to get them - or to return them!
  2. Attend classes at Cancer Support Communities (CSC) or a similar organization. I only started going to the free classes at CSC within the last few months, but wish I had gone sooner. I have had so much fun meeting other cancer survivors while attending two-hour workshops on writing, painting, essential oils ... you name it! If you don't have a CSC near you, some area churches, hospitals, community centers, YMCAs, or other nonprofits may have programs you would enjoy at no or low-cost.
  3. Paint. The classes at CSC piqued my interest in painting. I am no artist, to say the least, but I sure do enjoy trying. I am also not the world's most creative individual (I tend to see everything in black and white, unfortunately), but I have had a world of fun with a few cheap acrylic paints and some river rocks that I bought at Home Depot. I decided I wanted to paint rocks because (1) I hope I can brighten someone else's day when they discover them, (2) they are an inexpensive canvas, and (3) you don't have to be a good artist to have a lot of fun.
  4. Give back. I spend a lot of time on various forums and lung-cancer-related websites. I am always happy to tell someone else about my story, my experiences, how I've managed certain side effects, etc. It helps them and it helps me, too.

These are just a very few of the things I do that fill my days with meaning and fun. What kinds of things do you like to do? Or, do you find yourself bored and looking for outlets? I hope we can get some great ideas shared here in the comments!

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