The holidays can be an especially difficult time for cancer patients and their families. Your family may not understand how hard it is for you to feel cheerful and festive when your body feels miserable. You may feel guilty because you just can’t get into the holiday spirit when you feel so physically sick. You don’t want your family to miss out on the family fun, and they don’t like to see you suffer because you’re not feeling well.
One of the ways that all cancers manifest themselves, whether before, during, or after the treatment phases, is fatigue. The fatigue that is a byproduct of cancer is an all-encompassing one that sucks every bit of energy out of you, making you feel too exhausted to do anything.
It won’t be easy, but we’ve put together some tips and suggestions that can make the holidays a much smoother and happier experience for everyone.
Know Your Limits
Let everyone know how you’re feeling and what or how much you feel capable of doing. You will probably have to see how things play out day by day. That’s okay. Take people up on their offers to bake cookies, wrap your gifts, or help you trim your tree. Learn to say, “No, I simply can’t do that this year.”
Be realistic about your energy levels. Don’t try to do all of your holiday shopping in one day. If you don’t feel well enough to run around town buying gifts for everyone, think about things you can do to streamline the shopping process. When you shop for gifts online, you may even be able to eliminate the need to wrap and ship your gifts. Adding a personalized gift enclosure card makes your shopping easier than ever!
Make Time for Rest and Relaxation
Schedule some downtime for yourself. A two-hour nap may mean the difference between being able to spend time decorating the house or watching movies with the family, or feeling guilty because you’re being a “Debby Downer.” Let your body determine when you need to go to bed or how early you get up. How quickly you recover will depend just as much on the amount of rest you get as it does on the medications and treatments you get during your cancer journey.
Pick and Choose Your Activities and Participation
If you normally have a chaotic schedule during the holiday season, just accept the fact that you probably aren’t going to feel well enough to participate in every activity or take part in all of your typical family holiday traditions. Choose the ones that are the most meaningful to you and your family and let the rest go. The slower pace may turn out to make the holidays even more special for you and your family.
Nourish Your Body
The holidays are typically a time of indulgence. Your family may be invited to open houses, neighborhood gatherings, school and church parties, or large family events. You’ll be surrounded by all sorts of sweets, treats, and other temptations. When your body is fighting cancer, it’s important to make sure that you’re eating healthy and nutritious foods because they will give your body the energy it needs to combat the disease. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the same treats that everyone else is eating. It just means that you need to prioritize, and in this case, make sure that you’re well-nourished before you fill up on fun foods.
The holidays aren’t supposed to be a marathon where you’re racing to buy gifts for everyone you know, or decorate the entire inside and outside of your house. The winter holidays are supposed to be a festive occasion where you spend time with your family and loved ones. It’s a chance to reflect on the things that matter most to you, and to enjoy the beautiful music, food, family traditions and entertainment with the people who matter most to you.