Members of the IHadCancer community give their insghts on what friends and family should know when sharing the holidays with a patient with cancer.
The holidays can be stressful for anyone, let alone someone dealing with a cancer diagnosis. For some, it may be a welcomed reason to celebrate life. However, others may be wishing they could fast forward to January 2nd already. For caregivers, it's important to keep a few things in mind when helping your loved one through the holidays, and it's equally as important for fighters and survivors to be open with your loved ones so that they are aware of which side of the spectrum you fall.
We asked a few members of the IHadCancer community to weigh in on what they want their friends and family to know during the holidays. Please share your own thoughts next Tuesday, November 22nd at 9 pm EST, during the next #CureConnect chat.
1. We may get more excited about the holidays than we used to.
After dealing with cancer, a lot of cancer fighters and survivors really need something to look forward to, and often times the holidays are the perfect opportunity to add some joy to our lives. After experiencing trauma or stress, we just want to bring our life and focus back to something positive, which could feel all too foreign during a cancer diagnosis.
2. But there's also a chance that we won't be as enthusiastic as we were before cancer.
The pressure of being “merry” and “joyful” can be really difficult while being in the midst of something as painful, emotionally and physically, as a cancer diagnosis. The amount of holiday messages we see everywhere can be overwhelming. Please don’t take it personally if we start to withdraw during what used to be our favorite holiday traditions. It does not mean that we want you not to enjoy either—we promise we are doing the best we can.
3. The idea of a New Year can be really scary.
Many cancer fighters do not know what 2017 will hold. It could hold the cure or it could hold more months of physical and emotional pain. Like many of us have learned, nothing in this life is guaranteed. That looming sense of the unknown can be really difficult to cope with for anyone, and that’s okay. We may experience post-holiday blues and just need to be heard and understood at this time.
4. Holiday meals will be different for us.
Between the change in taste buds, the presence of metallic taste, nausea, mouth sores and lack of appetite, and myriad of other side effects, we may not be able to enjoy the meals like we used to. Please don’t feel uncomfortable if the cancer patient in your life isn’t eating. Don’t take it personally. Instead, make the mealtimes about something more than the food that you eat. Rather, make it all about the company that you keep.
5. We don’t need to talk about cancer the whole time.
It’s okay to talk about something other than cancer. We don’t want you to ignore it and invite an elephant to the dinner table, but we don’t want it to become the center of everyone's holiday season. It's a hectic time but also a great opportunity to slow down and catch up with friends and family. It’s a time to reflect. Please tell us about what’s new in your life.
6. Spending time with those we love is the best gift of all.
We know, firsthand, that life, and spending it with those you love, is the best gift of all. Please don’t feel the need to buy fancy gifts just to make the fighter in your life feel important. A small, thoughtful gift that can be enjoyed even on our lowest of days is all that we really need. Better yet, just donating your time never goes overlooked. Quality time with our loved means more to us now than ever before.
Do you have other tips to share? Please join us next Tuesday, November 22nd at 9 pm EST, for the next #CureConnect chat as we discuss how the holidays affect cancer survivors, fighters, and supporters.