Managing the Holidays with Cancer

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • The holidays are a time of festivities and family. Our society places a great value on the holiday season. For those people dealing with cancer treatments during the holiday season, it may be extremely difficult to manage their emotions.


    For some people, the holidays must go on, no matter how they feel. They may have a need to continue traditions, but may not have the strength to decorate the house, shop for gifts and entertain friends and relatives. How then can one manage to enjoy the holidays while undergoing cancer treatments?


    The American Cancer Society offers a number of tips for cancer patients:

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    Lower Expectations


    It is important to remember cancer treatment will end. Maybe for just this year, you cannot decorate the house or reduce the number of gifts you are planning to purchase. Accept there may be limitations on what you can accomplish and know that it is okay.


    Accept Help


    There are probably a number of people around you looking for ways to help but just aren't sure what you need or want. Take this opportunity to let them help and give them concrete ways to assist. Maybe give a list of items to shop for or let someone help you with decorating.


    Take Time to Rest


    Cancer treatment can be exhausting. Allow yourself time each day to rest. You may want to schedule completing some activities and then scheduling time for rest.


    Don't Isolate Yourself


    Although you may not feel up to large gatherings or having a house full of guests, you may be able to manage smaller get-togethers or having a few friends over. Use the opportunity to have a friend or relative help you prepare for the evening. Or invite a few friends for a pot-luck dinner. Having friends around you can help you feel festive during the holidays.


    Accept Limitations Without Apologizing


    If you have friends over but are feeling tired, accept you may need to call it a night early and get some rest. If you are visiting friends or relatives and need to leave early or need to turn down an invitation, don't apologize, everyone will understand with a simple, "I am not up to it."


    Center Holidays Around People Rather than Food


    Food is often a large part of holiday parties and events, but food may just not taste the same during cancer treatment. Certain smells may make you nauseous. Center holiday gatherings around family and friends rather than around the food. Keep food simple and to what you can handle right now. The taste of food will come back and you will once again be able to enjoy all you did before. For now, limit food and focus on enjoying your company.


    Having cancer and undergoing cancer treatment is never easy, but can be particularly difficult during the holiday season. If you surround yourself with friends and family that care about you and remember the spiritual nature of the holiday, you can still enjoy the season.

Published On: November 23, 2008