Cancer and Christmas: 6 Tips to Help You Enjoy the Season

Cancer and Christmas: 6 Tips to Help You Enjoy the Season

Facing the holidays with breast cancer can make it difficult to enjoy the season. Here are a few tips to help you make the best of it:

Slow it down.
During this time of year, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of invitations and opportunities for social interaction that pop up everywhere. But cancer can be exhausting, and keeping up last year’s holiday schedule might not be advisable or even realistic. Choose quality over quantity, and make sure your first commitment is to yourself. Don’t worry: there’ll be another ugly Christmas sweater contest next year, so save that sparkly purple and orange eyesore your sister got you. Some things never go out of style. Remember: pink might just be your new color this season.

Plan ahead. 
Getting medical help during the holidays can be tricky. Even physicians want to take time off to enjoy family and friends, so make sure you have alternative contact information handy just in case an urgent situation comes up. Have enough prescription meds on hand, and stock up on the over-the-counter-remedies, foods, and beverages that make cancer more endurable. No one wants to search for an open drug store during a major holiday, and a little planning can help.

Don’t take it personally if you’re off Santa’s list. 
Cancer can feel isolating during the holidays. Sometimes, even close friends feel awkward being around sickness for all kinds of reasons that don’t have anything to do with you. During treatment, many patients drop out of the social scene. If your phone isn’t ringing and your mailbox is empty, consider reaching out to people you know to be kind and trustworthy. Nearly 253,000 people were diagnosed with breast cancer this year; even if it sometimes feels like it, you’re not alone.

MORE: Seven tips for caregivers and families of cancer patients 

Always be prepared. 
While party-goers enjoy favorite once-a-year treats, cancer patients might dread the thought of the big holiday spread, and the smell of those foods can really be a trigger for nausea. Well-meaning friends might urge patients to eat or even take offense if you can’t choke down a quart of eggnog. Anticipating this situation in advance can be helpful in avoiding problems. Plan take small portions, and have some of your go-to foods, like crackers and soda, on hand. That way you can still be social even if eggnog is off your favorites list. Some doctors recommend dark chocolate for all sorts of health reasons, so as long as chocolate is on the menu, all is not lost.

Enlist help. 
Holiday traditions often involve gift giving, but cancer and its gruelling battery of treatments can make shopping impossible. Consider asking friends who love to shop to take your list with them when they fight the maddening crowds. And don’t forget that even the most esoteric gifts can be purchased online. Isn’t that why they invented computers? Online options allow patients to stay out of traffic while still enjoying the fun of gifting. And if worst comes to worst and you can’t get to everyone on your list, remind yourself that the best things in life really are free.

Come up with a backup plan. 
When all else fails, have a plan B ready. Make sure you have access to a great movie or a good book, your favorite blanket and a cozy pair of pajamas. You don’t have to admit to anyone that binge-watching the Lifetime Network is your favorite way to relax. Remember, it’s the holidays, and anything that provides comfort during this season is fair game.

MORE: A holiday food guide for cancer patients

Breast Cancer News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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