Coping with cancer during the holidays
For those impacted by cancer, experiences of the festive season can induce a range of feelings. Some people will enjoy a time of celebration, for others it may be a difficult time of stress and feelings of pressure and grief. We have put together a list of suggestions that may make the season less stressful.
It’s common for health services to shut down or operate at reduced hours over the festive period. It might be difficult to get medications, medical assistance, or emotional support at this time. Having a plan in place to deal with any medical concerns can help reduce stress. Before the holidays commence get in touch with you GP, pharmacy, and members of your health team to find out when they will be closed an what out-of-hours support they offer. If you are going away, find out where the hospital emergency department is located nearest where you will be. In case of a health emergency don’t be afraid to call ‘000’ or attend the emergency department of your nearest hospital.
Festivities can be tiring. When making plans it is a good idea to advise your host that your plans may change depending on how you are feeling on the day. It’s important to listen to your body and rest often. You may need to leave an event early if you aren’t coping or even turn down invitations and that’s OK. Everyone will understand.
Share the load
It’s time to take the pressure off. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You may like help with shopping for presents, food preparation or travel arrangements. Remember, it’s also ok to take on fewer tasks.
You may be experiencing a range of emotions at this time of year. It’s not uncommon to feel pressure to stay happy and positive. This emotional pressure can be exhausting. You may find your moods shifting from positivity and enjoyment to sadness and anxiety. This is completely normal. Acknowledging your feelings in the moment can help relieve stress and the pressure to ‘stay positive’. You may also find it difficult to talk to loved ones about how you are feeling. There are a range of support services that can be accessed throughout this time:
- Cancer Council: 13 11 20
- Cancer Council Online Community
- Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
- Carers Australia: 1800 242 636
- Lifeline: 13 11 14
- MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
Take time to remember
If you have a loved one who has passed, the holidays may be especially difficult. Don’t feel guilty or ashamed if you are grieving and feeling sad or overwhelmed, but also allow yourself to feel happy and enjoy time with friends and family and engage in activities you enjoy. Here are some ways in which you can remember your deceased loved one:
- Start new traditions on how to celebrate him or her. Ask friends and family to help with their ideas and input.
- Write a letter to your loved one sharing your thoughts and feelings especially if there are any things left unsaid.
- Hold a ceremony or light a candle with friends and family to remember him or her
- Look for opportunities to lend a helping hand. Donating to a charity close to your loved ones’ heart or yours, or contributing to toy, clothes or food drives can help put you in a better mood
Importantly, be mindful of the present moment and embrace the holiday celebrations however they may be. Holidays can bring renewed hope, gratitude and sharing amongst family and friends.
Seek support for grief
- Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement (ACGB)
- Cancer Council Online Community- Grief & Loss Forum
- My Grief Assist
Pancare Support Services
During the holiday season, crisis support will be available to existing patients, carers and families. Learn more about other services available over the holiday period.
The PanSupport team wish you a comfortable and safe Christmas, and we look forward to connecting with you again in the New Year.
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