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Patient tips Eight ways I navigated the holidays during breast cancer treatment

Eight ways I navigated the holidays during breast cancer treatment

Three weeks after her breast cancer diagnosis, Jennifer began chemotherapy and soon realized she wouldn’t be able to attend large family gatherings or holiday parties. Here, she shares the eight things her family did to maintain the holiday spirit during treatment.

  1. We broke tradition. We decided not to cook traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. We opted for choosing a completely different, smaller menu so that we wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the cooking process. This also allowed us to experience something new and exciting!
  2. We broke the “no decorations before Thanksgiving” rule. We were blessed to have my mom and her neighbor decorate our home before Thanksgiving in hopes of brightening our mood. As a result, we were able to enjoy the decorations longer. This was extremely beneficial for our kids and kept the mood in our home light.
  3. We planned mini visits. Instead of hosting or going to large gatherings, we planned 20- to 30-minute visits with family and friends. We were still able to see the people we love the most, but the shorter visit windows allowed me to not get overwhelmed and rest when needed.
  4. Holiday light sightseeing became a sport. We would take drives throughout the area with the sole purpose of scouting out the best holiday lights, drinking hot chocolate and listening to Christmas music in the car. Jennifer T
  5. I skipped the in-store shopping extravaganza. It’s always fun to see the department stores (and Santa) all decorated for the holidays, but I opted to do a majority of the holiday shopping online. One bonus to this approach? I was able to enjoy my decorated home and check off gifts without leaving the couch.
  6. I planned ahead for meaningful events. My daughter had her first holiday orchestra concert. I entered the venue as close as I could to start time and I left as soon as the concert was over to avoid as much contact as possible.
  7. We nixed the stressful holiday “chores.” The holidays can be extra fun, but also, let’s be real—they can be extra stressful too! We skipped the parts that felt anxiety-inducing. For us, that meant we didn’t send out holiday cards or do a full weekend’s worth of baking. Both of those tasks seemed overwhelming to me.
  8. I stayed connected to my care team. After going through a few chemo treatments, I realized that days three and four after treatment were the hardest for me. After speaking with my oncologist, we adjusted my treatment schedule by two days so that I would have the energy I needed for celebrating with my children on Christmas morning.
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