The holidays are a not-so-wonderful time for many cancer patients, their loved ones, and caregivers. But what if we tell you that you don’t need to dread this season, and that the grinch — or in this case, cancer — doesn’t have to steal your holiday joy? New Hope Unlimited is here to help you survive Hanukkah, winter solstice, Christmas and beyond.
Common Holiday Concerns of Cancer Patients
Here are some coping tips for cancer patients and survivors during the holidays.
1. How to handle exhaustion, your emotions, and wanting to make the holidays special for your children.
Many patients express feeling pressured to act enthusiastic and joyful during the holidays. Unfortunately, their mood is not always consistent with others’ expectations.
If you are a parent, it’s important to tell your children how difficult it is for you to feel happy right now, and that it’s okay for them to be festive and joyous because you want them to be, especially during this time of year. You want your children to enjoy the holidays, and they should not mirror your sadness or feel responsible for cheering you up. Though you feel down, reassure them of your love and that you are doing everything to make the holidays a special one for everyone.
Moreover, be realistic. Despite wanting to spread love and happiness this season, your body may prefer to stay in bed all day. Let others help with cooking, cleaning, and decorating. Set your priorities and pace yourself. Most importantly, share your feelings with your loved ones.
To know more about coping with your emotions, the experts here at New Hope Unlimited encourage you to read these helpful articles:
- The Cancer Patient vs. Depression, Anxiety, and Fear
- 10 Reassuring Statements for Breast Cancer Survivors
- Coping with Cancer 101: The Art of Letting Go
- Ways to Cope with Breast Cancer and Your Changing Emotions
2. How to celebrate the holidays on a budget amidst the financial stress of cancer treatment.
The financial toxicity of cancer treatment can make you feel the holiday blues—unless you do something about it. Keep in mind that the amount of money you spend on gifts is not a sign of how much you love and care for others. Instead of sulking, get creative! Here are some ideas:
- Convince your family members to exchange gifts “white elephant” style. Though this fun holiday event can have different rules, it’s more common to buy only one gift versus buying one for everyone in your family.
- Rather than hosting your family’s holiday dinner and slaving all day in the kitchen, suggest a potluck. A potluck is a gathering where each guest contributes a different, often homemade dish for everyone to share.
- DIY your gifts: sew, crochet, knit, or scrapbook. Handmade gifts are often inexpensive and more heartfelt.
The bottom line is, remember that the holidays are not about how much or how little money you spend.
3. How to enjoy your holiday dinner parties without feeling deprived.
The side effects of some cancer treatments can make your mouth or throat sore, impacting your ability to swallow certain foods.
You should avoid eating the following:
- Piping hot food and beverages
- Food with sharp or jagged edges, such as chips, croutons and toasted bread, popcorn, hard pretzels, and nuts
- Acidic food that may burn your throat, including citrus, vinegar, tomatoes, and cranberry juice.
- Spicy dishes and carbonated beverages.
- Processed meats like pepperoni, sausage, luncheon meat, and salami, all of which are high in sodium.
With that in mind, these are some tasty and soft food for you to enjoy:
- Mashed potatoes
- Quiche or devilled eggs
- A smoothie with flavors of the holiday season
- Fruity gelatin molds
- An English trifle with whipped cream in layers
- Soft pita bread and hummus (or any smooth dip)
Before indulging yourself with delectable meals and desserts, talk with your doctor to avoid affecting your treatment or recovery.
4. How to shop for holiday gifts when you’re too tired.
Gift shopping is an excellent way to tap into those friends who always ask, “do you need anything,” or “what can I do to help?” Make your list, check it twice, and then delegate. Give each friend an assignment and ask them to purchase one or two items on your list. Of course, always let them know how grateful you are for their help.
Alternatively, the 21st Century offers the convenience of online shopping and express shipping. The best news is, you don’t need to leave the comfort of your home.
5. How to thank friends and family who have been so helpful.
There are many ways to thank a loved one who has stayed by your side through treatment, starting with a verbal “thank you” and “I appreciate you.” But sometimes, actions speak much louder than words.
Recognizing your partner, friend, or family member’s compassion and assistance is so important. For someone who always went out of their way to drive you to a doctor’s appointment, consider giving them a gift card to the gas station, which buys them a tank of gas. A Starbucks gift card is also an option for someone who likes coffee almost as much as they love and care for you.
The Caregiver’s Corner: What Gift to Give Someone with Cancer
Consider something that would help him or her feel good, such as:
- A warm, cozy blanket or neck pillow
- A new bag they could use to carry essentials
- Comfortable loungewear
- Nutritious snacks in a basket
- Fun reading materials or puzzle books
- A relaxing trip to a massage and wellness spa
As mentioned, the amount of money you spend does not symbolize your love and affection. Helping them buy and wrap gifts, clean and decorate the house, prepare delicious meals, and being a shoulder to lean on are equally wonderful and heartfelt gift ideas.
For someone who has an ongoing battle with cancer, this time of year can be extremely overwhelming and stressful. However, there are many ways to have a merry holiday, and we can only hope that the tips above help you survive the season and embrace the festive spirit.
For information regarding alternative cancer treatments and how to schedule a consultation, please call New Hope Unlimited at 480-757-6573.