Cancer - The Uninvited Holiday Guest
The battle against cancer is a daily one and it stops for nothing. So when the holiday season begins, cancer patients and their families find themselves with something completely new and unwanted thrown into the holly, jolly mix - like an uninvited holiday guest that everyone just wishes would go away. Unfortunately, much like you may have to endure your cousin’s crazy new boyfriend, the one who shows up to the holiday meal with his rude humor and hostile political speeches, even though you wish he would freaking leave already, there’s no way to throw cancer out the door just because it’s Christmas.
This can be an emotional time for our loved ones fighting cancer. There may be disappointment as they face the realities of fatigue and how that limits what they usually do this time of year. There may be sadness, frustration, even disgust. On the flip side, it can also be a time for drawing precious family and friends close. Angel remembers both Christmases during Kevin’s fight with cancer and how aware they were that it could be their last Christmas together and how much that made them want to make happy memories and cherish each moment as it came.
So how can we support our loved ones and their caregivers dealing with cancer at this time of year?
- Be flexible - Know that they might not be able to pull off every holiday tradition as in years past. On the other hand, being able to participate in those traditions might feel super important to them. So be willing to adjust and tweak details as needed and to go with the flow as much as possible.
- Offer to help with their holiday shopping - Your loved one may need to be spending more time at home this year. Ask them if there are any gifts that they can’t find online and help them get those things when you’re doing your own shopping.
- Celebrate small victories and simpler moments - This holiday season may not look like they wanted it to. But you can gather around them and remind them of the previously unknown strength and courage that their battle with cancer has revealed in them. You can encourage them and be encouraged by them as the small daily stresses of life (you know, like that time the oven caught on fire with Christmas breakfast inside) fall away, and you focus on what’s really important.
- Be an excellent gift-giver - Now, more than ever, is a time to give a gift that’s just right.
Not quite sure what that perfect gift might be? Here are some of our tried and true holiday gift ideas:
- Your presence - No, we’re not trying to be cheesey or attempt to play on words here. Your presence - whether through a physical visit (be mindful of how long you stay), over Skype, or by email, text, card or phone call - is a powerful gift for a loved one engaged in the fight of their life. It’s a reminder to them that they’re not alone, that you’ve got their back, that you’re in this together. Don’t let the fear that you might say something wrong or feel uncomfortable stop you from reaching out and banishing the feeling of isolation that often accompanies a cancer diagnosis.
- Gift cards - Gas cards are hugely helpful, especially for people who are doing a lot of driving to get to and from treatment. Gift certificates to Costco or a local grocery store will always be put to good use. Movie theater certificates or a subscription to Hulu, Netflix, or Audible are great ways to offer some welcome distraction.
- Meal delivery service - Many cities offer services that deliver freshly cooked meals right to your door. For a family dealing with the grueling day-in, day-out struggle of cancer treatments and side effects, having healthy meals arrive ready-made can be a game changer. If you don’t already know, check in with your loved one or their family to find out about dietary restrictions or special diets they may be following.
- A kick-ass kit to boost their spirits and make them laugh - Our Kick Cancer’s Ass Kit is an awesome way to say, “I see you - and you got this!” to a friend or family member dealing with cancer. It’s cheeky and edgy and fun - the perfect way to blow off steam, kill time in a hospital or treatment center, and encourage relaxation and positive vibes. When you’re in the middle of a difficult situation, sometimes you just need to laugh a little and swear a little (or a lot, if you’re us), and this kit is the perfect thing to help you do just that.
- Fun gifts for the kids - If cancer is an uninvited guest in the household this Christmas, it goes without saying that life for the kids will feel less than normal. Money can often be tight and the “usual” celebrations might not happen for them this time around. So if you’re able, orchestrate a magical moment or surprise them with a super special gift. (And don’t forget the pets!)
Dealing with cancer totally sucks. Cancer during the holidays? Even worse. So let’s do what we can to bring some comfort and joy into the lives of our loved ones this season.