the Holidays with Cancer
By Allison Howe, P.T.
The holiday season often proves to be stressful for people in perfect
health. But for someone with cancer, this time of year can be overwhelming and
exhausting. If you, or someone close to you, is coping
with cancer, a few common sense guidelines can have a significant impact on how
you feel going into the New Year.
There is no shortage of activities during the holidays, so it is important
to remember to pace yourself. Don't try to do all of your
holiday shopping in one day. If you enjoy baking Christmas cookies, spread it
out over a few days. Listen to your body and rest when you become tired. Try to
understand and accept that you need to do less than you have during past
Set priorities for what absolutely needs to be accomplished, and what
would be nice to accomplish. You may decide to go to one or two holiday
parties, instead of all of them. Rest up during the day if you are going out
that evening, so that your evening out does not have a
negative impact on the next day.
Don't try to do everything yourself; get help from family members,
friends, and neighbors. They can assist you with cooking, shopping, cleaning,
and snow shoveling. You may find it easier to do a bit of Christmas shopping if
someone else does the driving. Let your friends make some meals for you. It can
be a tremendous relief at the end of the day to simply pull a prepared meal
from the freezer and heat it up. If you are fighting cancer, nutritious meals
are important, and this is an area where friends can easily support you. Trust
that your family and friends truly do want to lighten your load because they
care about your well-being and want to help you stay strong.
Try to balance activity with rest throughout the day. Light exercise
can be very good for you, physically and emotionally. Stick with an exercise
regimen that you know you are comfortable doing, rather than embarking on some
new, aggressive workout program. Take walks, get fresh air, or swim a few laps,
but stay away from activities you know will wear you out. Gentle exercise will
keep you energized, but if you become overly tired, you may end up feeling
depressed. It's best to schedule your exercise at a time of day when you
typically have the most energy. If you are a morning person, that's the best
time to go for a walk.
A cancer diagnosis has many ramifications, and the holiday season can be
especially difficult. By taking extra special care to get the rest you need, by
delegating some of your tasks to others, and by setting priorities, you can
give yourself the gift of energy to see you safely through the season.
Allison Howe is a physical
therapist at Cayuga Medical Center’s
Center at Ithaca. She is on staff in the Department of
Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine.