This Year, Enjoy Happy, Simple Holidays


Avoiding overload during the holiday season can be difficult, even when we’re feeling our best. Instead of visions of dancing sugar plums, our heads fill with guilt-inducing to-do lists. Cancer treatment can easily dim the sparkle of the season, but it doesn’t have to.

Manage Expectations 

The American Cancer Society advises using the holidays as a time to heal, and setting realistic expectations. What is important to you this year? Write down your answer(s) and use it to set priorities, guide your decision-making and use your energy wisely. Return to it when you begin to feel stressed. It’s okay to simplify and to find new ways to enjoy your holiday.

You may have moments when emotion hits you hard — when joyous laughter is riddled with spontaneous anger or sadness. Recognizing your mixed emotions is healthier than giving in to or burying the negative emotions.

Rest and Prepare

  • Make a plan. How will you adjust your traditions for this holiday season? Remember to keep your overall well-being a top priority.
  • Go to a movie or out to lunch with friends or family.
  • Be realistic about your energy level and modify your expectations. Rest during the day if you have an evening activity.
  • Think ahead. If eating brings on heartburn or nausea, take an antacid or antinausea medication before you go out for a meal.
  • To lower your risk of infection, always eat freshly cooked food. Avoid takeout foods and raw meat, fish, eggs and dairy. (If your white blood count is very low, your doctor may advise you to avoid raw fruits and vegetables as well.)
  • Ask your doctor if your chemo can be scheduled so you’re between treatments the week you have an important social event.
  • Plan how long you will stay at an event and how you will spend your time while you’re there.

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Online is the “new” outlet mall. Shopping for groceries, clothing, furniture and toys is easier than ever. It’s a highly competitive time for online retailers, so look for the best deals that include free or speedy delivery. Web merchants may include gift wrapping and direct gift delivery. Gift cards are another easy option.

Holiday Baking

If baking tasty treats for gift-giving or for your holiday table makes your season bright, be smart about prep time:

  • Have your baking needs delivered from the grocer (usually for a fee).
  • Bake only one or two favorite recipes.
  • Bake in steps: Measure dry ingredients, put them in resealable bags, and label. At another time, measure wet ingredients and add your prepared dry ingredients. You can bake now or later. Cookie dough lasts for months in the freezer.

If none of the above appeals to you, take time to enjoy small things, such as a hot bath or watching a favorite movie. Making time for these pleasures can help boost your mood.

Ask for help and accept it when it’s offered. This is a strength, not a weakness. Remind yourself that it’s OK to say no. You don’t have to feel obligated to accept every invitation or try to appease others’ requests at this time.

That’s the plan. This year, enjoy happy, simple holidays!