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For Everyone Touched By Cancer

10 Ways To Cope With Cancer Over The Christmas Holidays

Written by Natalie Murphy on 
17th December, 2023
Updated: 29th January, 2024
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

How To Deal With All The Season Has To Offer

Christmas which is traditionally thought of as a happy time can provide challenges for those experiencing cancer, whether personally or as a loved one.  In this article, we discuss dealing with those personal challenges when you or someone you know has cancer at Christmas

Eating and Drinking

Some people with cancer experience problems with eating and drinking including feeling sick, changes in taste and loss of appetite. You may not be able to eat and drink as much as normal but you can still join in. Have snacks available. Talk to your doctor if you have a specific problem such as needing more anti-sickness medication. Let your hosts know of any dietary requirements.

Cooking

Cooking smells can put you off eating and make sickness worse. In addition, you may also be feeling tired. You can ask for smaller portions as you can always take more later and you can also ask someone else to cook for you.

Alcohol

Many people like a drink at Christmas. Generally, this won’t be an issue, but if you are undergoing cancer treatment then check with your doctor as alcohol can make you feel very sick and can sometimes interfere with how cancer drugs work.

Tiredness

Cancer treatment can be very tiring both during the treatment and afterwards. Having visitors and visiting can be exhausting but friends and family will understand. Don’t feel you have to host celebrations, ask someone else to. Alternatively, go to a restaurant. Don’t feel obligated to attend every event or bad feel bad if you miss gatherings. Try to avoid large gatherings and long trips. Try to pace yourself and to rest when necessary. Consider resting during mid-morning and mid-afternoon to try to cope with more sociable parts of the day and resting before parties and attending them for a shorter time. Let other people do things for you. Gift vouchers and online shopping can save time and energy. An alternative present may be homemade gift vouchers for things such as babysitting.

Ask a friend for support with overpowering situations including exit strategies from gatherings.

Planning ahead

The team looking after you may take time off and there are Bank Holidays so find out contact details of who you should contact and how if there is a problem. Make sure you have enough prescription medication. If you had tests done check when the results will be available as it is often difficult waiting for results and knowing when you can expect them may make this easier. You could plan a celebration for the end of your treatment and have a more low key celebration now.

Emotions

Allow yourself time to reflect and to ask for help if you need it and to be specific in what you ask for. Friends and family can help with travel to appointments, cooking and shopping. Allow yourself to cope with the holiday season however you can. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to particularly when you’re feeling under the weather. Ask a friend for support with overpowering situations including exit strategies from gatherings.

For Family and Friends

Different people find different statements supportive. Find out what is supportive for them bearing in mind that no cancer patient will want bad news. Don’t share stories of others who’ve had cancer where it has not gone well. A cancer patient may not be able to keep up their old pace and may appreciate an offer to cook and clean. Encourage them to take care of themselves with nutrition, exercise and rest and do the same for yourself. Caregiving can be stressful and you need to look after yourself and receive support as well.

Christmas traditionally thought of as a happy time can bring its own challenges at the best of times.  Having cancer can cause these challenges to increase.  Here we discuss ways to cope with Christmas when you have cancer.

1. Alcohol

Many people like a drink at Christmas. Generally, alcohol won’t be an issue, but if you are undergoing cancer treatment then check with your doctor as alcohol can make you feel very sick and can sometimes interfere with how cancer drugs work.

2. Eating and Drinking

Cancer can cause some people to experience problems with eating and drinking including feeling sick, changes in taste and loss of appetite. Have snacks available.  Let your hosts know of any dietary requirements. Talk to your doctor if you have a specific problem such as needing more anti-sickness medication. Let your hosts know of any dietary requirements.

Only invite people round when you are not tired if you have cancer

3. Planning Ahead

Make sure you have enough prescription medication. The team looking after you may take time off and there are Bank Holidays so find out contact details of who you should contact and how if there is a problem. If you had tests done check when the results will be available as it is often difficult waiting for results and knowing when you can expect them may make this easier. You could plan a celebration for the end of your treatment and have a more low key celebration now.

4.  Keeping in Touch

You may not be up to long trips and large gatherings.  Consider using email, video chats, texts and social media.  You could also think about sending Christmas Cards with an update on how things are for you currently.

5. Emotions

Christmas can cause all sorts of emotions to arise.  Consider asking your medical team for counselling. Allow yourself time to reflect and to ask for help if you need it and to be specific in what you ask for.   You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to particularly when you’re feeling under the weather. Ask a friend for support with overpowering situations including exit strategies from gatherings.

6.  Tiredness

Cancer treatment can be very tiring both during the treatment and afterwards. Don’t feel you have to host celebrations, ask someone else to.  Alternatively, go to a restaurant.   Try to avoid large gatherings and long trips.  Consider resting during mid-morning and mid-afternoon to try to cope with more sociable parts of the day and resting before parties and attending them for a shorter time.

Let other people do things for you when you have cancer

7.  Look After Yourself

Take time to eat healthily, enjoy a long luxurious and to stay rested.  Let other people do things for you.  Focus on new traditions and rituals that feel comfortable with now.  You may be feeling less confident with your appearance since receiving your diagnosis and treatment.  In this situation you may find cosmetics, jewellery and wigs can help.

8.  Gifts

Consider on line shopping  gift vouchers and homemade gift vouchers for services such as babysitting.  These can all save energy and time.

9.  Cooking

As cooking smells can make sickness worse you could consider asking someone else to cook.  Taking smaller portions is another option as you can always take more later.

10.  Have friends and family visit you

Consider inviting friends and family to visit you at a time when you are not exhausted and cooking a meal is not necessary.  With a bit of planning, you can have a small but steady stream of visitors and catch up without exhausting yourself.

Resources

Practical Suggestions For Helping A Friend With Cancer

Talking To Someone With Cancer

Cancer Gifts For Christmas

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