Coping With Cancer During the Holidays

Gift wrapped in a box in front of a snowy background

The holidays are a time of joy and celebration; a time to reunite with family and friends and revel in tradition. However, the news of a cancer diagnosis can halt holiday cheer. In fact, the holiday season can prompt new questions for you, such as: How do I take care of myself and participate in the holiday rush? How can I celebrate when I have so many other things on my mind? What will my life be like next year? Sharing these concerns with friends and family can help you manage the struggles of the season.

Here are some tips for coping with cancer during the holidays:

Don’t Exclude Loved Ones: Trying to celebrate alone can be very difficult, so let others surround you with love and support. Find a balance between celebrating with family and friends and spending time alone to rest. Pace your activities and reserve energy for gatherings that are most important to you.

Create a New Holiday Tradition: Managing Fatigue may be a major concern around the holidays. Modify your usual activities and traditions to relieve some of the pressure. Ask family and friends to combine events (such as decorating the house and making holiday treats) or change locations to reduce your travel. Consider ordering a meal from a local grocery store or restaurant instead of cooking it yourself. 

Alternative Shopping: Heading out in the cold to shop is probably the last thing you’ll want to do. Utilize catalogs and online shopping to buy gifts. Art projects, crafts, and homemade treats can replace store bought items and add additional sentiment.

Learn From Others: Various programs host holiday events and activities for cancer patients in need of comfort and companionship during the season. Another support program, Stupid Cancer, has a motto: "get busy living!” This group organizes happy hours, bowling parties, movie nights and other events where young adult survivors can connect, learn from each other and find inspiration. It’s a national group with local chapters, including a recently-formed Buffalo chapter.

Keep Spirits High: Embrace the joy and beauty of the holidays. While it is impossible to ignore cancer, it does not define you. Find spiritual meaning in the holidays through inspirational stories of survivorship, meditation, or by simply doing a good deed for someone else.

Eat Wisely: Healthy eating during the holiday season can be tricky. Although you may not have much of an appetite, good nutrition can give you more energy and improve your mood during the holidays. Avoid too much sugar, alcohol or caffeine.