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    The Holidays! I Need A Nap
    Coping with Breast Cancer & Family Celebrations

    Which ones does your family celebrate? Hanukah, Passover, Kwanza, Christmas, Easter...

    It doesn't matter. Every holiday season is full of happiness and warm family encounters, right?

    Dealing with a chronic illness may paint a slightly different holiday picture.

    The normal 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.

    The truth 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.

    The holidays 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.

    The lines 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.

    • KISS - 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.
    • HELP! - 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 dishes.
    • ACCEPTANCE - 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 do.
    • INTERDEPENDENCE - "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.
    • BE GRUMPY - 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 and unwind.

    also see -> Breast Cancer Christmas




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