Navigating the Holidays When a Loved One Has Cancer
Creating a Safe Environment for Your Loved Ones
The holidays and end of year celebrations are important to all of us. They help us continue our cultural and family traditions. Gathering, lighting candles, baking traditional sweets, creating the remembered meal from your childhood, all help us maintain connections. When a loved one has cancer, we need extra support and help. When balancing the health needs of a loved one fighting cancer, some of these traditions need to be modified, especially with the current environment of continued Covid cases, flu, and RSV. Here are a few tips on how to celebrate and provide a safe environment for your loved ones:
Gathering with family and friends is always a joy. A silver lining moment from the recent pandemic is the realization that gathering virtually can create lasting memories. Schedule some video chats with family and friends to share some memories, tell some stories, or just watch the children open their presents. A quiet word to participants ahead of the call to ask them to focus on the joy of the season, not the cancer diagnoses, will help everyone come away uplifted.
Outdoor activities may not be possible for a cancer patient. Perhaps some indoor activities such as a game night or carols could turn into a new holiday tradition. If some family members do participate in events, make sure they video tape the activity to share (especially if the patient must remain in the hospital).
ACCEPT THE GIFT OF KINDNESS
Accepting help from friends and neighbors sometimes feels overwhelming when you need to focus your time on your child and their needs. However, people are especially generous during the holidays, so think about how they can help you and ask for specific meals, let someone wrap your presents, do some errands, walk your dog. Ayden in the photo was able to enjoy his Christmas through the generosity of others who came alongside the family and bought gifts for the entire family through Here to Serve. Their gifts were wrapped and ready to put directly under the tree!
SIMPLIFY AND ADAPT
For this holiday season, maybe ordering the main holiday meal, letting a neighbor provide the meal, or cooking something simple is a good substitute to your traditional feast. Rather than elaborate deserts, a package of cookie dough and some sprinkles may be just the memory everyone needs. Most places of worship perfected sharing spiritual messages over the past two years. Ask a friend to find the computer link to a service at your local church, synagogue, or mosque and enjoy the service and support together as a family.
BEWARE OF GERMS
‘Tis the season for the flu! With more cold and flu cases and increasing cases of COVID-19, this time of year can be especially hard for someone with a weakened immune system due to cancer treatment. Follow safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and encourage others to do the same.
GIVE THE GIFT OF GRACE TO YOUR FAMILY
A child diagnosed with cancer, and the intensity of medical treatments, is one of the most difficult experiences a family will endure. All days will not go smoothly, and the emotional ups and downs are frequently overwhelming. So, try to be gentle with yourself and those around you.
HERE TO SERVE
For eleven years, Here to Serve has been supporting families as they navigate their cancer journeys. Here To Serve specializes in the additional needs your family will encounter during your cancer journey: everyday needs such as communicating your child’s progress to family and friends, managing your household, and coordinating daily tasks. If you or someone you know is a caregiver of a child with cancer and needs support with everyday tasks, errands, or locating resources to make life with cancer easier, don’t hesitate to contact Here to Serve. We are here to help.
By Valerie Cox
All information on this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. Always consult a medical provider in your particular area of need before making significant changes in your medical decisions or lifestyle.