Coping with Cancer During the Holidays

The holiday season can be a very challenging time for individuals with cancer, as well as their families. Holidays often bring up a range of emotions, including guilt and sadness, as well as anxiety and uncertainty.

The following 6 tips are to help support your loved one living with cancer during this holiday season:

  1. Be flexible – People living with cancer may not be up to all the holiday cheer. Depending on how they are feeling, your celebrations may not fall on the actual date of the holiday and your plans may need to be adjusted.
  2. Create new traditions If your loved one usually hosts the dinner and is not feeling up to it, offer to host this year’s gathering. Propose a potluck meal or order takeout food so they do not have to cook or feel guilty about it. While on the topic of food, avoid food with strong smells since cancer treatment can cause nausea and alter tastes.
  3. Keep the conversation light – Let the holidays be a time your loved one gets to take a break from talking about their cancer diagnosis. Avoid commenting on appearance, changes in mood, or energy level.
  4. Put extra thoughts into gifts – Give items that are comforting, distracting, or entertaining, such as gift cards to favorite restaurants, cozy blankets, books, or spa treatments. Avoid giving anything containing synthetic perfumes that may trigger nausea.
  5. Beware of germs – Having a family member with a weakened immune system calls for reminders of handwashing for all holiday guests at the gathering.
  6. Be present – Enjoy the quality time the family gets to spend together. Do things that will make you all come together like board or card games; watch holiday movies or share family stories. Try to avoid thinking about what tomorrow will look like, and enjoy the moment.

Join us Tuesday, Nov. 16th for our “GCW Lunch and Learn: Cancer and the Holidays” educational workshop, which provides various tips and tools on how individuals, families, and children can navigate through their mix of emotions during the upcoming holidays when a loved one is living with a cancer diagnosis. To register for this event visit,