Supporting Those Facing Cancer During the Holidays

Dec 14, 2016 | Health & Wellness, Patient Stories

By Leslie Condon, TargetCancer Foundation Advocacy Council Co-Chair

The holidays can be a challenging time for those facing cancer and their families. If you or someone you know wishes to give support to individuals and families who have been affected by cancer, consider these ideas:

For patients

  • Take time to consider how you might or might not like to spend the holidays. Have a few options or alternatives depending on how you are feeling that day.
  • If you are in the hospital during the holidays, think of how a tradition can be modified to fit within a different setting.
  • Consider a healthy yet festive alternative to the traditional holiday meal. This may require friends and loved ones to help and some pre-planning, but it will help avoid day-of stress.

For family members and caregivers

  • Have clear communication with your patient and other members of the family so that everyone understands whatever plan or strategy the patient and family members have decided on prior to the event.
  • Designate space in the primary social area for the patient to sit and rest throughout the day. You may also need to set up quiet place for the patient to retreat to if the celebration is not at their house.
  • Pace yourself. Allow yourself to also enjoy the moment and the occasion. Plan for more than one family member to help throughout the day to avoid fatigue.

For friends

  • Call, email, send a card, flowers or a care package. Your friend may not be up for a visit, and you may not hear back from them but your effort will be appreciated.
  • If you do get in touch with your friend, make a visit or deliver a holiday item that is festive yet healthy.
  • If your friend does not have much family to keep them company for the holidays, consider inviting them to your table or help them find an alternative solution. If they are in the hospital that day, help to find friends to visit them if possible.

The most important thing is to remain flexible and understand that there may be some unexpected situations that arise. Below are a number of articles that can help guide you through the holiday season. Happy holidays!

Further Readings
For Caregivers: Coping With Holidays and Special Occasions
Healthy Holiday Parties: Tips for Cancer Patients
Supporting Friends and Family Who are In the Hospital for Holidays
Coping With Cancer During the Holidays
Travel And Holidays