The holiday season is a time of celebration with family and friends. But for people with cancer, it can be the most difficult time of the year. Patients and their loved ones tend to feel out of touch and stressed.
Fox News contributor and internist Dr. Marc Siegel recently spoke with Diane Blum, editor-in-chief of Cancer.net, to get some tips on coping with cancer during the holidays.
“When you’re being treated for cancer, and (you) may be tired and not feeling up to yourself as you might have been, the whole set of obligations that come with the holidays can be that much more complicated,” Blum said.
If you have a friend or family member battling cancer, Blum suggested being upfront with them to find out how they are feeling, and let them know they have options.
“If you are close to someone who has cancer, you would talk to them directly about what they want to do and what they don’t want to do. Do they want to travel to the family members that they have always gone to? Or, maybe this year it might be a little easier to stay home and have your celebration at home,” she said.
Blum suggested that patients should also take steps to make friends and family more comfortable: Be direct about your needs, and let them know if you are feeling tired or need help with holiday activities.
It is important to warn people ahead of time if your physical appearance has changed, like hair loss or weight loss, she said. This will help others feel prepared and eliminate an uncomfortable situation.
When it comes to gift-giving, Blum said the last thing you want to do is buy a gift that makes the cancer patient feel singled out.
“Don’t buy things that are like medical supplies. I would buy presents for someone as you have bought them before,” she said.
Click here for some great gift ideas for cancer survivors.
So what is the single most important thing you can do to help a loved one fighting cancer get through the holidays? Blum said it is to make the person feel comfortable and wanted.
“You need to get the balance,” she added. “You don’t want someone to feel that they don’t count anymore, and they’re not really able to do anything, but you also want to set realistic expectations for them.”