The Holidays are approaching and you’re wondering how you’re going to do it this year, right? Getting through the Holidays is always a challenge and even when you’re at your best health-wise, it can be exhausting! “6 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays” offers some practical advice.

So, how do you manage to keep all the balls in the air when you’re also dealing with cancer and it’s treatments?

Well, I have a few ideas and I think you’ll find them to be helpful. I speak from personal experience..

I hope you’ll find help and encouragement here.


Each year, it seems the holidays get busier and the time gets shorter. We tend to think that we need to attend ‘this event or that event’ and we try our best. After all, someone went to a lot of trouble to plan and we don’t want to disappoint, right?

The first and most important thing I want to tell you here is that you can’t do it all! No different than any other year, actually, but now people will actually believe you! AND…you may find that it’s refreshing to have the attention diverted away from you for a change.

Who’s Going to Cook the Turkey???

Not you, quite likely, so just get your brain wrapped around that and delegate! If you’re traditionally the one who prepares the feast, then you’ll need to communicate to your family that this year will be different. You can certainly be there to offer instruction for the proper way to roast the turkey and you might just discover a new chef in the family!

Cancer, Holidays, Survive

Whether you believe it or not, your family most likely doesn’t understand your lack of energy and stamina – especially if you’re seemingly going about your ‘normal’ routine. In their eyes, you’re probably doing just fine because, if you’re like me, you probably keep the bulk of your complaints to yourself and don’t talk about the pain and discomfort that you battle almost constantly.

Remember that even though they may be walking through this with you, no one can relate to the pain and other side effects of chemo and radiation unless they have personally experienced it for themselves.

Our first Thanksgiving during my chemo, our eldest daughter took on the task of preparing the meal. Picture this: A family of 18 people consisting of 11 littles, one 80-year-old, three husbands, a chemo patient and a mom about to give birth! Plus Amber, of course who was holding it all together!

Total chaos, right? Well, it worked out just fine and we just chuckle about it now, but what a memory we made that year! I remember a delay in the timing of the turkey, but that perhaps is another story!

My point is that even though it was a challenge, we not only got it done, but it was perfect! At least in my eyes it was. You just don’t have to do it all! Trust me on this!

For your travels, I hope you’ll consider grabbing this seatbelt cushion for the trip. It makes the ride much more comfortable.

I’m Afraid I Won’t Be Much Fun This Year

Well, you probably won’t be. If you’re usually the life of the party, this might be a tough pill to swallow. Be very careful that you don’t put a guilt trip on yourself. Your situation is out of your control. Whether you did something to cause your cancer or it just decided to visit you without an invitation, the fact of the matter is that you’re now getting treatment and the past is the past.

So, sit back, participate when you can and rest when you need to. You may find that by keeping a low profile, so-to-speak, you will be more approachable and may get to know one of your loved ones on a whole new level.

In my case, I was not only still on chemo, but I was only a few weeks post-op after my lumpectomy and my doctor was VERY strict with what I could do. I just used her as the scapegoat and then it wasn’t me talking, rather it was me following doctor’s orders! You just have to get a little creative sometimes, I suppose!

How Will I Get All My Gifts Purchased?

The year I went through chemo, I remember getting ready to do my Christmas shopping. We then had 11 grandkids to buy for along with the rest of our list! I remember feeling so overwhelmed and thinking that I wouldn’t be able to do any shopping that year. My husband and I talked about maybe just doing gift cards for everyone but it just didn’t feel right. It’s not my way and I just feel it’s too impersonal.

Part of my problem is that I tend to lavish the kiddos at Christmastime. I know, what grandma doesn’t, right? Well, my husband and I decided that this year (2015) would have to be different. It just would!

I’d never been huge into online shopping, but I certainly knew how. So I decided that I would just shop online and get it done. How did it go? It was WONDERFUL! When I had a half hour where I felt like I had some energy, I would go to my computer and start searching.

My items would be saved in my cart on each site I went to and were waiting for me when I logged in again. It was beautiful! And I was having fun!

I soon found that by toggling back and forth from one store to another, I could get the very best deals. Now it was really getting good! My budget was rather limited as you can imagine so I issued myself a challenge.

Shopping, Cancer, Holidays

I set a budget somewhere in the neighborhood of $300. In the back of my mind, I wasn’t entirely sure I could do it, but I allowed myself a little wiggle room just in case. I soon found that by keeping a list (NOT my forte) I was able to really get a good ‘feel’ for how much I was spending and before I knew it, I was done!

Everything qualified for free shipping and I found a ton of sales, so I stayed very close to my budget. The best part? The grandkids loved it!

How Do I Buy This Year’s Christmas Sweater?

This is a tough one. Every year you may be in the habit of buying a new outfit for the holidays or perhaps a special sweater for yourself.

If you’re post surgery like I was, you may have absolutely no desire to try on clothes now. Nothing fits right and everything looks bad when you do try it on. Even though I only had a lumpectomy, things were just not the same – and I didn’t much like it.

Sure, people are very kind and they say you’re looking great, but it really doesn’t matter does it? How do you feel about how you look? That’s what matters.

I decided to look at the ‘big picture’ (no, I’m not talking about a full length mirror) and remind myself that beauty comes from within. The Bible says in Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

The fear of the Lord comes first from having a personal relationship with Him. When you have that, you learn that God is just not concerned with your physical beauty, so why should you be?

So, what did I wear that year? I really don’t remember and I doubt if anyone else does either! I’m sure I just went as comfortable as I could while still being respectful.

Who’s Going To Take Care Of…..?

O.K., this might sound morbid, but I’ve actually told myself, “If I weren’t here, life would go on.” It’s true and we all know it. We just tend to think that we are the only ones who can do what we do. But in fact, we’re not!

In my experience, and being the control freak that I’ve been, when I’ve learned to let go, things move along just fine! And often MORE enjoyable too!

Maybe this is the year that you’ll come to realize that you do NOT have to take care of the things that you always took care of. Besides, there may be someone else who wants to handle certain things but is afraid to ask because it’s always been your thing. Who knows, you may find that you like things better their way!

I hope you’ll share your tips with me. Please comment below.

Merry Christmas!

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4 comments on “6 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays”

  1. Wow this is amazing! You’re such a trooper! Being with the family is the best part of the holidays. It’s usually the busiest time of the year for my partner and I (we live in the Alps and work in tourism) so I haven’t been with the family for Christmas for years. Christmas was always a special time growing up, so I try and do all the traditions and cook a full Christmas dinner like we would with my parents, even if it’s just for 2 of us.

    Thanks so much for sharing, you’re amazing!


  2. Hi Michele, I appreciate your perspective. I’m with you that I struggle to just give gift cards. Last year felt stressful as I had just had another heart attack (due to rare heart condition) and I tried to take on about the same amount of things to do as before! I’m trying to be more mindful of where I am physically and mentally this year:)

  3. Great advice for not only people dealing with cancer, but those recovering from surgery. It helps to keep the “to-do” list in perspective and realize what is important and what is not. I agree shopping online is a great way to save energy and time, plus, you don’t have to carry the gifts from the store to the car and then from the car to the house!

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