Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ten Tips For Coping With Cancer During The Holidays

In the month of November, Hallmark began the countdown to Christmas with special holiday movies. I skip all the movies about Santa or elves saving Christmas, but I'm a sucker for all the movies about about a single, widowed or divorced parent finding love during the holiday season.  I'm not ashamed to admit I enjoy stories with happily ever after endings.

Hollywood is on board helping to create the notion that good things are supposed to happen during the holidays. As much as I want that to be true, every year I'm reminded that pain, suffering, illness injury, disease and death do not take holiday breaks.

In 1976 the duo Simon & Garfunkel composed the song 7'OClock News/Silent Night which brilliantly deals with the disparity between what we hope for the Holidays and how the reality of the days news show us the futility of wishing for a Hallmark Christmas in a broken world.

Deep within our hearts there is a strong desire to experience a Hallmark Holiday. That's the reason  why I believe suffering of any kind during the holidays is amplified and felt more intensely.

There are a number of places you can be in your journey with cancer:
1. Newly Diagnosed
2. Waiting for treatment-surgery, radiation, hormone therapy etc
3. Coping with the physical effects of treatment-loss of libido, urinary control, erectile dysfunction, etc
4. Coping with the emotional component of coping with cancer, things like anxiety, fear, sadness, loss, depression, etc
5. Coping with the relational changes brought about by a diagnosis of cancer, Your relationship with friends, family, and/or your partner may be negatively affected as a result of the diagnosis or treatment of cancer.

Any one of these circumstances has the potential to drain you'd like to experience during this season. There are some attitudes and behaviors that could take away the joy you'd like to experience:

Joy Killers:
1. Cling to the expectation you deserve a Hallmark Holiday and rage against your current circumstances.
2. Try not to think about your current reality-This is a great way to become obsessed with your current circumstances.
3.Withdraw from friends and family
4. Use alcohol or drugs to numb your feelings.
5. Judge yourself harshly because you don't feel the way you want to during this season.

Here's a few things you can do to make the holidays better.
Joy Enhancers:
1. Treat yourself and others in your life with kindness, compassion, tenderness and love.
2. Take time to acknowledge and grieve the losses you face this year as a result of cancer.
3. Don't push yourself or expect to do everything you are accustom to doing. For example you might not be physically or emotionally ready to go to the office Christmas Party or drive/fly long distances to be with family.
4. Limit your activities to a few things you'll truly enjoy.
5. Spend time with the people you love.
6. If you are able, doing something nice for someone in need.
7. Develop new holiday traditions you are able to enjoy
8. Spend time each day counting your blessings to enable you to develop an attitude of daily gratitude.
9. Draw strength from your faith.
10. If you do not believe in God-now is a good time to question that assumption.

Here's a few links to relevant articles:
Tis the Season for Coping With Cancer
Coping With Cancer During the Holidays
Cancer & the Holidays
Ten Tips for Coping With Cancer During the Holidays

The next two are Christian faith-based books
The Case for Christ
The Case For Christmas

Rick Redner and his wife Brenda Redner are the authors of:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?
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