Holidays! I Need A Nap
with Breast Cancer & Family Celebrations
ones does your family celebrate? Hanukah, Passover, Kwanza, Christmas,
matter. Every holiday season is
full of happiness and warm family encounters, right?
a chronic illness may paint a slightly different holiday picture.
stress of the holidays is multiplied by dealing with breast cancer. Many
survivors feel the need to make each moment of the holiday season memorable.
The fear that there may not be too many more holidays to enjoy makes this
one more important. The moments are supposed to be hung with sparkling
joy - each standing apart to fill your heart with joy and hope.
is you probably feel more like the dark angel than you want to admit.
Whether the holidays fall in the middle of treatment, waiting for biopsy
reports or enjoying your hair growing back, you have things on your mind
more important than which what to serve for the holiday dinner this year.
tend to increase the feeling of isolation that breast cancer survivors
and their families feel. While normal life goes on for the rest of the
world, you're caught in cancer. No matter how cheerful you are about the
situation - remember the power of positive thinking!! - you keep slipping
back to that dark corner where the cancer sits in your mind.
at the stores that were an inconvenience before cancer now are an insurmountable
obstacle. Breaking down in tears from exhaustion is the response to many
routine holiday chores. You're not alone. Others have faced cancer filled
holidays and there are some tricks to make it easier.
- Keep it simple, stupid. This is a rule that started in the military
and has found it's way to top management seminars. The less you do the
more energy you'll have to enjoy it. Don't try to make this the most
elaborate holiday you've ever had. That's a sure way to make it the
most frustrating memory in your family album.
- Ask for it and accept it graciously when it is offered. For many of
us the hardest thing to do is accept that we can't do it all. Even Martha
Stewart asks for help during the holidays. Don't worry if you can't
cope with putting a big dinner together. Go visit a friend or loved
one and let them do the work while you relax. If you feel the need to
be involved in the holiday preparations, help set the table or dry the
If you never noticed it before, cancer will be sure to teach you that
you have human limitations. I can't reach the top shelves - I need to
let someone else get that platter down for me. There was a time in my
life when climbing to the top shelf was easier than asking someone else
to reach for me. How silly I was. I learned that letting people help
makes them feel good and makes me feel even better. Despite what you
think - you were not able to do everything by yourself before cancer.
You just thought you could. Learn to see your limitations and accept
them. Don't become a helpless lump - there's still plenty that you can
- "Huh?" you say, "What's that?" Many of us have
fought a long fight to avoid being dependent. That means be independent
- don't rely on others for what we can do ourselves. Well, cancer holidays
are the perfect opportunity to learn that there is a step beyond independence.
Being strong enough to lean on others without losing our ability to
stand on our own is interdependence. This is not a sign of weakness
to fight against - it's a sign of personal growth. Small children are
dependent. If they want to eat they need someone to fix their food and
feed them. When we get older and can feed ourselves we need to let everyone
know that being fed is a sign of dependence and we will not allow anyone
else to feed us. Independence is good. At some point we should realize
that everyone knows we can feed ourselves, we no longer need to get
upset when someone offers to fix our meals. They know we can do it,
but they enjoy doing it for us. When you get to the point that you understand
that you are independent - you don't have to prove it anymore. You can
allow your independent self to be assisted by other independent people.
It's a sign of strength - not weakness.
- It's important to maintain a cheerful attitude during the holidays.
Just remember you will get tired and cranky. If you need to go take
a nap - go! Take some quiet time by yourself - take care of yourself
and your needs. You'll be much better company the rest of the time if
you let yourself be "Grinchy" when you need to be. The quietly
suffering martyr act doesn't improve anyone's mood - yours or anyone
around you. When you start getting testy, take some time to be by yourself
also see -> Breast Cancer Christmas