Ways To Help A Friend With Cancer During The Holidays
It’s that time of year again. The holiday season is upon us. The weather is getting colder, days are getting shorter, and lights are up in stores. It seems like everywhere you look, someone is talking about holiday shopping and gearing up for the usual holiday activities.
For cancer patients, however, the typically exciting holiday rush now might bring on mixed emotions. Joy, worry, anxiety, stress, nostalgia, and depression can make even the strongest cancer patient feel overwhelmed.
If you want to help, it is important to recognize just how emotional the holiday season can become for someone with cancer and their friends and family – including you.
Cancer Patients Often Have Mixed Feelings About the Holidays
Anyone who is undergoing cancer treatment or has been recently diagnosed with cancer can find it difficult to get into the holiday spirit. On the one hand, they want to be able to enjoy the holiday season but at the same time are worried about their health and even their ability to participate in holiday activities.
Some concerns that can contribute to a cancer patient’s holiday stress (and that of family and friends) might include:
- Will this be the last holiday with friends and family members?
- Is it safe to be around family members? Is their immune system compromised? Will they be lonely if they are left out of holiday plans?
- Is cancer going to make it hard to enjoy special moments and traditions like eating our favorite foods, gift-giving, and spending time with the children?
- How will everything get done? Will they have the energy or ability to go out and shop for gifts? How will they wrap gifts?
- What if the treatment schedule falls during the holidays?
It should not be surprising that these feelings can become overwhelming and contribute to anxiety and depression during the holiday season. For everyone who is a close friend or family member of someone getting cancer treatment, these feelings can make the holiday season emotionally and physically exhausting.
Ways To Offer Support To Cancer Patients This Holiday Season
One of the best ways to assist someone you know who has cancer is by helping them take care of themselves. This might include doing activities that focus on their physical condition, their emotional health, and “getting things done.” All of these things can play an important role in helping them celebrate the holidays in a way that feels somewhat “normal.”
Here are some things you can do to help someone with cancer during this holiday season.
- Offer your support-Be there for them to talk to if they need it. Encourage them to talk about how their illness is affecting their feelings about the holidays. Reach out frequently and stay connected.
- Create a list of things that need to get done-Creating a list of tasks is an excellent way to help someone with cancer plan ahead and feel like they are in control of their life. Seeing what needs to get done allows your friend or loved one to do what they can and give others meaningful “jobs” that can provide real help. At the same time, crossing things off that list as they get done can relieve a tremendous amount of stress.
- Keep them busy and engaged. Even if your loved one can’t do everything they used to do, engage them in activities as much as possible. For example, you can help decorate the house with their supervision (even from the couch) or take them gift shopping at a time that avoids the holiday rush. You can enlist others to help wrap presents (have a gift-wrapping party!), buy groceries, or help cook traditional holiday meals. You can even ask them to teach you how to bake their favorite holiday dishes. You might also suggest dinner at their favorite restaurant to celebrate the holidays. Perhaps you can help them shop online, offering to make returns on their behalf if necessary.
- Remind them that doing things differently might result in a bunch of new traditions that are as just meaningful as the old ones.
- Help them engage in physical activity. One thing that people with cancer often neglect is physical exercise. Cancer treatments can leave your body feeling weak, and this can be extremely discouraging to someone who wants to stay strong. Try helping them with some easy exercises like walking, yoga, or stretching. Don’t take over all activities and chores for them. Let them do what they can for as long as they are able.
- Ensure they keep up with medication. Sometimes it just slips someone’s mind to take medication every day, especially when things get busy. Caregivers can help ensure loved ones keep up with all necessary treatment, which includes oral medications. You can set alarms, get a cool pillbox, or leave notes to encourage your loved ones to stick to their cancer care protocol.
- Be present and available. Cancer patients often feel alone. Think about it, during the holidays, it is easy to feel like the rest of the world is enjoying themselves while you are stuck dealing with cancer treatments and everything they bring with them. Simple things like paying a short visit, going for a walk, bringing a little gift, or asking if they want to talk, can make people with cancer feel loved, supported, and less afraid.
Take Care Of Yourself Too
Helping a friend or loved one who has cancer isn’t always easy, especially during the busy holiday season, but it can be very rewarding. It always feels good to make another person feel better. But caregivers are people too, and it is important to remember that you need to find time to enjoy special moments also. Family and friends of people with cancer can get lost offering support and help to the cancer patient in their life. Make sure that you have support and take care of your physical and emotional health. You can’t be there for your friend or loved one if you feel overwhelmed and stressed too.
Send Helpful Cancer Gift Baskets This Holiday Season
Having cancer during the holidays is not fun for anyone. The holidays should be a time to celebrate, which can be hard when a person does not feel well. You can make a difference. If someone you love has cancer, send them a helpful cancer gift basket from Rock The Treatment. Chemotherapy and radiation gift baskets are packed with the essentials needed to ease side effects of treatment, as well as enhance physical and mental well-being. See all of our cancer care packages and find the one that best supports their journey.