December is one of the most joyous times of the year. Families flock together to celebrate and people across the world prepare to say goodbye to the old year and toast to the new one. However, when battling cancer, the joy of the season can be tarnished with the stress associated with the disease. Receiving treatment for cancer is expensive and time consuming, let alone exhausting. Those receiving cancer treatment are often left to face other symptoms and side effects, such as loss of appetite, pain or a poor immune system. While juggling these side effects day-to-day can be challenging in itself, it becomes increasingly more difficult to enjoy holiday traditions with the added stress. To ensure support and inclusion of family members and friends battling cancer, consider continuing old traditions and making new ones with the following:
- Deck the Halls! Driving around to look at outdoor displays of holiday lights or having the warm scent of pine fill the house are beloved traditions to children and adults alike. When racing between appointments, getting decorations out of the garage might feel too time-consuming to consider. So offer this to someone you know with cancer, or propose to take him or her shopping for decorations. Camaraderie and holiday cheer go hand-in-hand.
- Skip the Gifts The average American spends hundreds of dollars on gifts in December. While that may be possible for some, people receiving treatment for cancer are spending tens of thousands of dollars on treatment over several months. Without factoring in loss of income due to appointments, or the cost of transportation to appointments, it is clear that holiday shopping could be doubling down on stress factors. Proposing to skip gift exchanges at a family or friend’s holiday party could relieve the stress of those experiencing financial burden. Attendees could even be encouraged to donate to a charity if able, rather than bring a gift.
- Make & Bake! What better way to relive childhood traditions than to bake (or cook) up a storm like grandma used to do? Use an afternoon to whip up some holiday treats or craft some decorations. Getting those hands dirty is a great way to spend quality time and stir up the holiday spirit. Homemade goodies can also make for a great gift!
- Binge Watch Holiday Specials Sometimes the holidays may seem too busy to enjoy. This can be especially true if the calendar is weighed down with exhausting appointments. Encourage loved ones to take a rest this holiday season and propose a “Netflix and Chill—Holiday Edition.” The lineup can include childhood favorites, new holiday movies or even holiday episodes from a favorite series. Sometimes a relaxing night in with a great group of people can be just what is needed to capture the holiday spirit.
- Raise Money for Cancer Research It’s difficult to know what it’s like to battle cancer without being diagnosed oneself. It can be hard to find the right thing to say to someone who has been diagnosed or is undergoing treatment. Instead of relaying grief or pity, consider contributing to the battle by raising funds for cancer research. Many donors get creative with fundraising, but even proceeds from a simple raffle or a personal donation make great impacts in the war on cancer. If you have any questions about donations or fundraising, contact National Foundation for Cancer Research Director of Philanthropy John O’Brien—by phone at 301-961-9116 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.