We’ve gathered together some top tips to help ease you through the festive period. If you would like to find out more helpful ways on how others cope, gain some additional support and share your feelings and experiences, the Facebook Chemotherapy Support Group is a great place to start.
1. Loss of appetite
Many people who have cancer have few or no problems with eating. But some do, especially if they are going through chemo treatment. These can include feeling sick, constipation or changes in the taste of the normal foods you love. At Christmas, you might have the added pressure from friends and family who want you to eat something when you might not feel like it. Here are a few things you can do to help:
- If you suffer from nausea, make sure you have enough anti-sickness medication
- Ask for small portions – you can always go back for more if you want t
- Avoid anything too rich or too spice
- Don’t feel pressurized into eating more than you want to
- If you really can’t eat a full Christmas dinner, don’t. Have snacks on standby that you can have when you’re feeling up to it
2. Not up to cooking
If you’re not feeling great you probably won’t be up to creating the normal culinary Christmas delights in the lead up to the big day, let alone the main Christmas dinner. And sometimes cooking smells can make sickness even worse. Ask someone else to cook for you – but let them know in advance so they can plan their approach. You can sit back and relax or be there to help out a little, but let someone else do the hard work this year.
3. Alcoholic tipples
Many people like to have a glass of bubbly or other kinds of alcohol at Christmas. This can help you relax. Generally, the odd glass of wine or beer isn’t a problem. But check with your doctor or medical team if you are having treatment. Alcohol can sometimes interfere with how cancer medication work or it might make you feel very sick. And if you’re off the alcohol, get some interesting non-alcoholic alternatives. Or plan some exotic cocktails - sans-alcohol.
4. Lack of energy
Tiredness and energy levels can be a problem during and after cancer treatment. Having visitors or going to see people can be very tiring. Try to pace yourself throughout the day by alternating activities and rest whenever you need to. If you’re invited to parties, have a nap beforehand and perhaps only go for a short time. The one thing you need to remember is friends and family will understand.
5. Handling your emotions
Christmas can be an emotional time if you have Cancer, and even when you don’t. We often take stock of the year and our lives. If you have cancer, it can be an unwelcome reminder that you aren’t as healthy as you once were or would like to be. Everyone reacts and copes in their own way. Some people just want to forget all about their cancer for the holiday season. Others see it as a time to move forward with the New Year and, if possible, celebrate putting the cancer behind them. Some people need time to think about what they have been through and what may happen in the future.
There is no right or wrong way to feel. You might find that partners and family members have some of the same feelings as you. Talking through how you feel with someone close can help.
6. Planning ahead
It’s good to plan ahead before Christmas. Your doctors and nurses might take time off, so it’s worth finding out beforehand who you should contact if you have a problem and how you can get in touch with them if you need to. There will be a doctor and nurse on call.
If you have tests before Christmas, find out from your doctor when you will get the results as they may be delayed over the holiday period. Waiting for results is often very difficult emotionally. So, knowing when to expect them might make waiting seem easier.
7. Let others take up the Christmas mantle this year
Don’t wear yourself out trying to do all the running around before Christmas - you need to hand over the reins to someone else this year. You can still get involved – but only as a helper when you're feeling up to it – not the main organizer:
- Give someone a list of presents you want to buy – and ask them to get them for you. Or buy online – you’ll find some of your best bargains there
- Get your kids, partner or friends to help out with the tree and decs – and if it’s not up to your usual standards – don’t fret. It’s more important to look after yourself this year
- Staying with the online theme – avoid the crowds and order your Christmas food shop online.
- On the day – enjoy letting others do all the hard work. Sit back, relax and chill – you never know it might become a Christmas tradition!
8. Learn to say no
Put yourself first. If you’re not up to having people round – don’t. If you don’t want to go to the annual Christmas bash – politely decline. Stay home and cuddle up on the sofa with your kids, a loved one, best friend or the dog and watch a Christmas film. This year you need to do Christmas on your terms
If you need a helping hand or to hear a friendly voice at any time over the Christmas period join the Facebook Chemotherapy Support Group. You’ll find over 6000 people from across the globe, all fighting cancer right now, ready to offer their support.
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