Managing the Holidays

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work

DECEMBER 11, 2017

Major holidays are stressful in the best of times. There is often a large gap between our fantasies and hopes and the realities. We remember the magic of childhood holidays or we remember the trauma of family hurts and disappointments. We hope to create something memorable and perfect for ourselves and our families while we contend with our own histories and circumstances.

Adding cancer to the usual holiday stew can make it even harder. If you are currently on treatment, you don’t feel your best. If treatment is ahead of you or behind you, there may be intense worries about health and survival that impact your outlook and coping.

It is very likely that your emotions will be running strong. Whether you have just been diagnosed, have completed treatment, are waiting for a stressful test or results, or dealing with recurrent cancer, you will have worries and sadness. It is almost impossible not to wonder how many more years you will be here or to imagine the family gathering without you.

Since you cannot completely banish these thoughts, it is often most helpful to allow yourself time and space to feel and process them. If you are overcome by fear or grief at inopportune moments, try this: Tell yourself that you will hold these feelings to be examined at 5 PM today (or whenever). It is likely that at 5 PM, you will be feeling better. If you are not, it is fine to give yourself over to your worries for a while. Then tuck them away again.

I’ve posted a list of suggestions for managing the holidays on the BIDMC Cancer Community site. Please click below to read them and join the conversation.

Tips for Managing the Holidays : http://cancercommunity.bidmc.org/