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Celebrating the Holidays while Coping with Cancer


The magic of the season can feel lost when you or a loved one is dealing with a diagnosis. Treatments, side effects, illness and a lengthy schedule of appointments can dampen spirits and make it a challenge to keep up with the festivities. There is still hope for the holidays though. With an understanding that this year may look different than past seasons, you can still enjoy gathering with your ‘ohana. Connecting with those you love can be comforting and offers great benefits for boosting your spirit.

Here are a few tips to make the holidays a bit more cheerful with cancer:

Prepare & Plan
Create a simple holiday plan. Consider what parts of the season are most enjoyable and the gatherings that are most important. Pace the activities so there is plenty of time for rest and relaxation. Give yourself permission to decline invitations. Take advantage of technology to virtually visit when traveling might be difficult. Share your plan with your ‘ohana so they can be supportive and understanding.

Be Flexible with Traditions
Look for opportunities to tweak celebrations. A take-out meal or a potluck dinner may be a fun new tradition, rather than a long day of cooking. Online shopping can replace hours spent out and about at stores. A personal heartfelt note can be sent instead of visiting in-person. Embracing a spirit of flexibility will help you enjoy the holidays. Energy levels and side effects from treatment can cause last minute changes to your plans and traditions.

Share Your Feelings
Be open and honest with your loved ones about your mindset in approaching the holidays. Express your emotions, whether you are in a season of joy or sadness. Let others know your preferences on how you want to discuss cancer. This can help avoid some of the awkwardness that comes with a diagnosis and the holidays. While you may want to focus only on the festivities, do not completely ignore cancer.

Take Care of Yourself
Practice self-care and listen to your body. The holidays are busy and filled with overindulgent treats. Continue to eat healthy and follow your physical activity recommendations. Take time to rest and relax when needed. Stay in touch with your healthcare team and ask for resources.

Celebrations may look a little different due to cancer, but it can still be a memorable holiday season with your loved ones. Take time to savor the little moments. Enjoy the time spent with your ‘ohana.

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