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Holiday Tips for Cancer Patients and Caregivers

Here are some important tips for cancer patients and caregivers to reduce stress, take care of themselves and enjoy the season.
PUBLISHED December 13, 2015
Jeannine Walston is an accomplished leader, respected expert and vibrant brain tumor survivor since 1998 with passion as a cancer coach, consultant and speaker. Her extensive work includes for the U.S. Congress, cancer non-profits, government agencies with NCI, FDA, and NCCAM, hospitals, clinics, doctors, providers, other businesses, cancer patients, caregivers and the public. She has deep knowledge and insights about integrative cancer care for the whole person. Learn more at
During the holiday season, based on where you are in your journey, you may feel some intensity and challenges. Here are some important tips for patients and caregivers to reduce stress, take better care of themselves and enjoy the season:

Choose how you want to spend your time. Writing holiday cards, shopping for holiday gifts, decorating your home and attending holiday parties might be on your list. If you cannot do some or any of it, that is OK. Recognize and remember that it’s your time, and therefore spend your time wisely. The experience of cancer can illuminate the preciousness of time. Think and choose what you want to do, with whom, where and when. Your experience will transform as you integrate into the present moment.

Ask for help to address your needs. Be mindful and identify your needs. Request support from family members and friends, including specifics for the holiday season, meals, talking about and through the experience, deciding what to do and not to do, spending specific and special time together, watching movies, and any specifics that make you address your needs and feel better.

Give yourself self-care. Think about what self-care means to you and identify your needs in the process. Self-care is about putting yourself first with supportive care as a priority. During the holiday season, one can get scattered and neglect personal care. People feel better when in balance. Choose getting enough sleep, healthy foods, exercise, reduced stress, and other dynamics to better your whole person.

Rest with some silence and stillness. The treasured time of the holiday season offers wonderful activities for some people, though not everyone enjoys all of it. Allow yourself to rest. Winter is the season to rest within to restore, recover, repair, reconnect and regenerate. Spend time in the holiday with silence and stillness for your own support and also to feel the true essence of the season.

Provide tender support to your emotions. Cancer patients and caregivers may feel intense emotions around the holiday season. Some holiday traditions and experiences can no longer feel the same as before. During the intensity of the holiday season and anytime of the year, it’s essential to identify your emotions and related thoughts, and then choose specific actions to feel better. Some vulnerability and tenderness can be gateways into self-realization and thriving.

Rethink previous holiday gift plans if you have financial stress. Cancer care is expensive. Do not feel like you need to use your credit card on holiday gifts if you do not have the money. If you enjoy making gifts and have the skills, time and energy, consider creating what you enjoy for specific people. Another idea is to create cards and share what you want to express to those you adore.
Express your love. Know the holiday season transforms and transmits delight through self-love, loving others, human beings loving you and loving life. Love is the answer to live life — and shine your personal identity — in the best ways possible.
What are you going to identify, experience and prioritize for yourself during the holiday season?

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