Cancer and the Holidays

December 20, 2010
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Five tips to help people with cancer best enjoy the holiday season.


You’re listening to a podcast from Cancer.Net. This cancer information website is produced by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, known as ASCO, the world’s leading professional organization for doctors that care for people with cancer.
Our topic today is Cancer and the Holidays.

It is common for people with cancer to have conflicting feelings about how to celebrate the holidays. This podcast will look at five ways to help you best enjoy the holiday season.

Number one: Learn your limits, and think about how that may affect your holiday plans. Entertaining and traveling for the holidays puts physical stress on your body. Give yourself time to rest and restore your energy for the activities that are most important to you. If you’re traveling, a hotel may give you more control over your space and time.

Number two: Keep things simple. You may need to scale back your activities and focus on one or two holiday traditions. Consider talking with family and friends about combining events or changing locations to minimize your travel. And don't be afraid to say no. Some people find that they have a new appreciation for fewer or simpler gatherings.

Number three: Ask for help. Let your family and friends know what your expectations are for holiday activities, so they can help and offer their support. You may want to make alternate plans or ask friends for help with shopping and cooking. Family and friends want to be part of the celebration. When you ask for help, they may feel flattered that they can contribute.

Number four: Avoid guilt and be true to yourself. Savor the good times with others, but feel free to take time to grieve if you need to. And, remember to talk with a close family member, friend, or counselor about what you are feeling and how best to cope with a range of emotions.

This is particularly helpful to do if you’re feeling pressure to act more cheerful than you feel, either from yourself or others. Be patient with other people, as they may not understand that this season may trigger other emotions besides joy. It’s okay to gently remind them that you continue to face medical challenges and suggest ways they can show support for you.

And number five: Remember the true meaning of the holidays. Don't concentrate on what may be missing or different about this year's holiday season from years past. Try to focus on friendships, being thankful, and sharing with others.

For more information on this topic, contact your doctor or visit Thank you for listening to this Cancer.Net podcast.