Christmas should be a joyous and relaxing time of the year, but for many people living with cancer or who've lost someone dear to them from cancer, the festive season can be a difficult and emotional time.
Feelings of isolation and sadness are common and Christmas time can be a reminder for many people of how different life has become. Some people may have just been diagnosed, some may be undergoing treatment and feeling quite unwell, and of course many people experience profound grief at Christmas because of a loss.
To help, we've put together some tips for coping over the festive season:
- Speak honestly with your family and loved ones. Communicate how you feel ahead of time to your family and friends so they can adjust their expectations. It's okay to admit that you don't feel like celebrating this year or don't feel well enough for the events you usually host or attend.
- Instead of trying to do all of the shopping yourself this year, ask someone to do it for you or shop online. You can even buy your groceries online and have them delivered to your home!
- What about having a ‘Secret Santa' instead? Buying one gift can be a huge relief if energy is low and/or finances are tight.
- Keep the festive activities simple and non-strenuous and allow for rest time during the day. For example, you can book lunch or dinner at a restaurant, arrange a picnic at a local park, or ask people to bring a contribution to the meal.
- If you are having treatment over this period, consider having a low-key day on December 25 and plan a celebration at the end of treatment.
- Good planning can help reduce any stress or anxiety. Plan ahead as much as possible and know who to contact if you have a problem.
- Practice self-care and recognise this is just how things are at this time of your life. Remember, this Christmas does not signify how the rest of your Christmases will be.
- Talk to you loved ones about how you are feeling. That way they can show their care and support by assisting where possible. This will help you all feel closer during this time of year.
If you prefer not to talk to those closest to you, or don't have anyone to talk to, phone Cancer Council WA's 13 11 20 Cancer Information and Support line and talk to one of our Cancer Nurses who can listen to your concerns and put you in contact with support services.
The 13 11 20 line is staffed by a team of experienced cancer nurses who can listen to your concerns and put you in touch with support services.
The 13 11 20 service is closed on the Christmas/New Year public holidays but open all other times from 9.00am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday.
For more information, see the 13 11 20 Cancer Information and Support Line Christmas opening hours.