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HOW TO SUPPORT A CANCER FIGHTER OVER THE HOLIDAYS

Many of us who are not fighting cancer become overwhelmed and stressed over the holidays. This year because of Covid 19, we may be even moreso, trying to figure out how to have “Christmas” without the usual traditions or large gatherings.  

So, imagine how difficult it is fighting cancer on top of what has become the normal stress of the 2020 season. Here’s a few suggestions of things you can do to help over the holidays:

  • Do things for them. Cancer treatments take a lot out of you, both physically and mentally. Make it fun — maybe make a coupon book offering your time, running errands or help with online shopping. Even throw in some cookies, foot rubs or gentle massage. You could even stuff your coupons in a pair of cheery Christmas Socks!
  • Do things with them…like go to their treatments, take them out to see the Christmas lights, play games, etc. 
  • Let them do things for you! No “you shouldn’t haves”.
  • While your friend or loved one may need support with their cancer diagnosis, especially at Christmas, they may find it very frustrating and feel angry if you overprotect them and try to do everything for them.  
  • Allow them the space to ask for what they need– which may be practical as well as emotional. As much as possible treat them as you always have.
  • Be the cheer — it’s contagious, you know! Think of fun or creative things to do like buying or making matching Christmas T-shirts or Sweaters, have a virtual “Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest” with your mutual friends or family and let the cancer fighter be the judge.  Have a pajama party so your friend doesn’t have to get dressed up (unless they want to!)
  • Respect that they might not be so cheerful. Your acceptance may help them accept and deal with their feelings, so they can get through and then past them. 
  • Sometimes people stay away because they don’t know what to say or, strangely enough, feel guilty if they are having a happy and healthy Christmas. Just be present, authentic and ask how you can help. They may have some ideas of their own you could help them carry out!

Don’t be afraid to say the “c” word. You might feel like you shouldn’t mention cancer, especially if you’re trying to keep someone’s spirits bright during the holidays. But chances are, your friend or loved one is thinking about it. Don’t be afraid to talk about cancer and say, “This stinks, and I love you. I’m here for you! We’ll get through Christmas and Cancer together!”

Most of all — Stay home if you are sick or have been exposed to Covid.  Find other ways to communicate, like FaceTime, Zoom or go caroling outside their window. Their immune systems are weakened due to the disease and treatments they are taking and exposure to germs or viruses can cause complications. 

And don’t forget, you can always request a Care Pack to be sent to them to show you are thinking about and care about them.

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