Christmas is the season to be jolly but when you are ill, the holiday season can be actually stressful rather than joyful. This is especially true among cancer patients and their families. How would they fit in Christmas shopping and baking between chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions? The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute gives some tips for cancer patients and their families on how to cope with the holiday fever as described below.
FOR THE PATIENTS
Set realistic goals
Don’t even think of doing it all. Cut down on the decorating, shopping and baking. Pick one or two things that you want and can do. And know your limitations, physically, emotionally and financially.
Do not be afraid of asking or accepting help
Learn to ask for help and delegate.
Get plenty of rest and sleep
Overstressing yourself is counterproductive. Learn to say “no” to party invitations and visitors if you don’t feel like it. Don’t feel obligated to be festive.
Engage in some form of physical activity
Exercise is good for you even if the temptation of staying in bed the whole is strong. Take walks and breathe in fresh air. However, be sure to keep yourself warm and wrapped up. Check out winter walking tips from the American Heart Association.
Do your shopping online. Send e-Christmas greetings – and be comforted that they are more eco-friendly than paper Christmas cards.
You don’t need to put up a brave face all the time. Crying can be therapeutic. Do not bottle it all up. It’s OK to complain once in a while. Talk to your love ones.
Eat healthy food
Complete abstinence during the holidays is not asked of you. Do not deprive yourself but do not overindulge yourself either.
FOR THE CAREGIVERS
Although the coping tips above are meant for cancer patients, they may apply to the family member and caregivers as well. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS)
“As a caregiver, you may also be feeling overloaded during the holiday season. You likely have many new things on your to-do list on top of your normal responsibilities. Try to include your loved one in the holiday meal planning and preparation, decorating, gift buying and wrapping. Most importantly, be sure to take time for yourself and appreciate the little things that make life special.”
ACS gives some recommended do’s and don’ts to help caregivers handle the holidays. Their tips are basically similar to the list above, which only goes to show that the burden of cancer is felt both by the patient and the caregiver.