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The holidays can be a tough time of the year when you’re dealing with cancer. Check out this list of personal tips from our Patient Support Team and Helpline staff.

13 Holiday Tips for Patients, Survivors, and Caregivers

  1. Acknowledge and be honest about your feelings – don’t force it when you don’t feel it. The holidays can be stressful enough without the added pressure of trying to “fake it.” It is normal to experience feelings of loss or sadness over how cancer has changed a special occasion. Share the low times AND the high times. Tears can be a big relief and very healing; laughter can be very relaxing. 
  1. Simplify and be honest about your expectations with yourself and others. For example, if you traditionally host a holiday celebration at your home, try inviting fewer guests this year, or not host the event at all. Consider hosting a pot luck dinner, in which others bring most of the food, order from a restaurant or ask a friend or loved one to assist with the cooking. Maybe this year you do your shopping online or nix the holiday cards.
  1. Don't get bummed out if you are not feeling the holiday spirit. It will come back, just give it time.
  1. Fatigue, discomfort, neuropathy and physical limitations can hinder your traditional holiday tasks.  Think about what matters most, and modify the tasks to meet your needs so you can enjoy the celebrations with less stress and more energy. 
  1. Don’t expect things to be “perfect.” Try to laugh at the reality of the imperfect moments and go with the flow.
  1. Gather around you those who lift your spirits and avoid those who draw you down. The holidays do NOT require you to spend time with negative relatives.  This is a great time to take the focus off of cancer and put it onto the family and friends who mean the most to you.
  1. Don't think you are superman/woman. Your body may still be fighting to beat the cancer or recovering from treatments.  Give yourself the OK to say NO, I am not up to doing this or that and don't feel guilty about it.
  1. Sometimes it can be hard to accept help from others. The holidays put many people in a helping mood. If someone offers to help you, let them. That can be a nice holiday gift for you and them.
  1. Put yourself first when you need to, and do something good for yourself. Take some time each day to relax and recharge, even if it is simply taking a walk around the block, reading a book, putting on some soothing music and having a cup of tea or doing deep breathing exercises.
  2. Bundle up and take a walk outside – see the lights and/or just star gaze. If you're lucky to have snow, make a snowman or snow angel.
  3. Play board or card games with the kids/family. Many people feel pressure to say the right thing to a patient, but playing games gives everyone a healthy and fun distraction and many laughs too!
  4. Watch fun holiday movies together. Boys may especially have a hard time articulating their feelings, but they’re happy just to be with you on the couch watching a movie with some popcorn.
  5. No matter what, do not feel guilty if you can't do what you've done in the past!  Lower expectations and you may find this is your best holiday ever!

We're Here to Help

Need support during the holiday season? You’re not alone. Call our  free Helpline at (877) 422-2030 M-F 9:30-4:30 ET  or connect with others through our  upcoming My CCA Support Holiday Fellowship Chats.


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