Getting Through The Holidays With Breast Cancer


The holiday season is in full swing, bringing with it a fresh wave of stress. Holidays can be a demanding time for anyone, but for those with breast cancer, it creates a unique opportunity for anxiety and sadness.

If you are currently undergoing treatment, you may not have the energy or ability to keep up with your usual traditions. Those with metastatic breast cancer may be dreading that this could be their last holiday with their loved ones. What is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year can quickly devolve into a perfect storm for sorrow.

The most important thing you can do to mitigate these difficult realities is to look after yourself first and foremost, even during the season of giving. Below are some tips on how to cope with the logistical and emotional stress of a holiday season with breast cancer.

Be aware of travel limitations.

Traveling to see loved ones is standard fare for the holidays. In December 2022, it was estimated that almost 113 million Americans planned to travel 50 miles or more between December 23 and January 2. While for many this travel is worthwhile for the payoff of spending the holidays with loved ones, for others it simply may not be possible due to breast cancer treatment. Patients are generally advised to wait a certain amount of time after chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment before traveling, and they face additional restrictions for flying after surgery. The exact parameters of these travel restrictions are individual and should be discussed with your care team.

Beyond these basic safety considerations, side effects from breast cancer treatment could make long-distance travel unpleasant or painful. It can be heartbreaking to tell loved ones that travel is not possible at the moment. At the same time, it’s important to understand and respect your body’s limitations.