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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Consider on line shopping gift vouchers and home made gift vouchers for services such as babysitting. These can all save energy and time.
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.
- Cancer Research UK Coping with Cancer at Christmas
- Vancouver Sun Coping with cancer at Christmas: A Guide for Patients and Families
- Cancer Council Act Coping with cancer at Christmas Factsheet
Natalie Murphy is one of Cancer Care Parcels authorised contributors.