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Coping with Cancer During the Holidays

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If you need to, decline an invitation or two so that you have enough energy to enjoy the gatherings that are more important to you.

  • Create A New Tradition
    Give yourself permission not to feel the usual holiday pressure. That fancy get-together can go “potluck” this year by letting your guests share their favorite holiday foods, let someone else host the meal or chose to take the party to your favorite restaurant.
  • Be A Modern Shopper
    Use mail order catalogues, shop over the telephone, or try online shopping this year, and don’t be afraid to take advantage of a store’s gift-wrapping and direct shipping options. If you prefer a more sentimental gift, share your thoughts and feelings. Write a short note or make a phone call to let others know that you are thinking about them.
  • Express Yourself
    Having cancer is scary. It is an emotional roller-coaster ride, so don’t be afraid to express your feelings in ways that help you receive support from the important people in your life. Tears can bring a sense of relief. Laughter can be therapy. Sharing can be comforting. Let your feelings breathe by talking them over with a loved one, friend, or professional counselor.
  • Lynette Summerill is an award-winning writer who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. In addition to writing about cancer-related issues for EmpowHER, she pens Nonsmoking Nation, a blog following global tobacco news and events.

    More Cancer Support and Coping Resources are available at:
    CancerCare, a national nonprofit organization that provides free, professional support services for anyone affected by cancer. Call 1-800-813-HOPE (4673) or visit www.cancercare.org

    American Cancer Society and its millions of supporters nationwide saves lives and creates a world with less cancer and more birthdays by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back. Call 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org

    National Cancer Institute, www. cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Support

    Add a Comment3 Comments

    Pat and Jill, Thank you so much for your comments. It is difficult for people without cancer, or those who don't have to deal with it vis a vis a family member to understand just how much dealing with the disease takes out of you emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. Having cancer is hard!

    It becomes especially difficult now because the holiday season holds such meaning for most people around the world, and this is the time of year that really makes you reflect on what you have---or don't, depending on your mindset at the time. Regardless if we have cancer or not, many of us do get sucked into the trap of feeling like we must be all things to all people. Warts and all, we can only be ourselves. I really liked the advice given here because it makes one think, this holiday may be totally different from years past, and even those in the future, but it can still hold cherished moments even if it is not covered with garland, ribbon, bows and frosting.

    Wishing you both a happy and memorable Holiday season.

    December 4, 2010 - 10:59am

    It is a wonderful feeling to know you are not along in trying to figure out how to handle this, my most favorite Holiday. I am usually the family "go to" person for helping out,and this year I can't do all that I want to or that I am asked to do. Your thoughts help to rid me of the "I can't" guilt that sometimes follows me. Thanks!
    Paa=rum-pa-pa-rum! :-0 jill

    December 4, 2010 - 4:02am
    Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

    Thanks for this timely article Lynnette. Coping with cancer is always hard, but it's especially hard when you hit the "holiday" season which in many ways has become a crass commercial retailing season pushing products on people. Getting back to basics and finding better ways to celebrate the season can help ease the burden of being bombarded with nonstop ads that are reminders that the costs of cancer make it hard to get necessities let alone frivolous luxuries that retailers want you to believe will make your life complete or make your children think you're a good parent. Bah humbug! :-) Pat

    December 2, 2010 - 6:55pm
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    We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.