Living with cancer blog

Cancer survivors have life to celebrate this season

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. December 8, 2009

From Black Friday and holiday gift commercials to the beautifully-decorated homes and storefronts, it's hard to ignore — the holidays are now upon us.

While this season is a time for us all to celebrate life and its many blessings, the holidays can also be stressful. A few of my recent stressors include carving out time to bake goodies, purchase and trim the tree and send cards. This past weekend alone, I attended three holiday parties in three days!

Since December has only begun and many of you may be hit by the holiday hustle and bustle like me, I wanted to share some tips that my Cancer Education Program colleagues and I offer cancer survivors to help them take time to enjoy the season, themselves and their loved ones:

Simplify the holidays

  • Create a new holiday tradition that makes the most of your energy, such as planning potluck dinners or dining at a favorite restaurant.
  • Send seasonal cards or letters after Christmas — try New Year's or Valentine's Day.
  • Reduce holiday gift exchanges and shop online or via catalogues when necessary.
  • Buy holiday treats to reduce the amount of time you spend baking.
  • Reach out for help when needed — for example, ask someone to decorate your home or trim the tree; serve them hot chocolate and the pleasure of conversation in return.

Live in the moment

  • Realize your limitations and feel comfortable doing less.
  • Don't feel obligated to live up to others' expectations.
  • Express your love in more direct ways than gifts.
  • Rededicate yourself to your spiritual growth.

Share the hope

  • Volunteer at a local nursing home or soup kitchen.
  • Donate to a local charity (such as the food shelf) versus purchasing gifts.
  • Adopt a needy family.
  • Count and communicate your blessings.
  • Invite someone to your celebration who you know is alone for the holidays.

Now that I've shared these for everyone to see, I know what my next step is. I need to practice what I preach. Thankfully, I'm sharing this early on in the season, giving me a chance to slow down to celebrate the small things in life, including each day I'm blessed with.

What about you? How do you simplify life and take time to celebrate life during the holidays?


Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Dec. 08, 2009