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Surviving the Holidays

With Thanksgiving approaching this week it is important to talk about the holidays. Society teaches us and we often feel we must be happy and joyous at all holiday times, but especially between Thanksgiving and New Years. This can be a difficult expectation for many individuals with cancer and their loved ones.
Some individuals have recently been diagnosed with cancer and are devastated, others remember how they were diagnosed or severly ill during this holiday time and sometimes family and friends are helping care for an individual with cancer who is seriously ill or terminally ill at holiday time. This makes it difficult to want to celebrate.

There are some things individuals with cancer and their loved ones can do to survive this holiday season. Here are some tips:
1) Do not feel you must be "happy" all season. It is reasonable that you may have some "sad" hours or days and this is normal.
2) Be reasonable about what you realistically physically and emotionally do this holiday season. Maybe a quiet holiday at home will be better this year than traveling to BIG parties.
3) Only attend a few functions intead of EVEYTHING this season.
4) Be sure to get adequate rest before and after going to social events or having family and friends into visit.
5) Try to remember some 2-3 things you are grateful for or special experiences you have had in the past. You may even want to get out an old scapebook.
6) Downsize. If you want to cook a meal or have a Christmas tree, then make a smaller meal (turkey breast instead of whole turkey and 2-4 side dishes) or a smaller tree so it does not take all of your energy.
7) Understand that it is normal and OK for you to have many emotions this season.
8) If you would like to then go talk to a counselor or a pastor or priest. They can help you deal with the holidays by discussing your emotions and helping you set realistic expectations.
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