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By Ackerman Cancer Center


Managing Holiday Stress & Travel for Patients and Caregivers

The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most hectic. Real, or imagined, expectations from family and friends along with busy schedules can cause stress and anxiety for those with cancer and their caregivers.

Whether you plan to entertain at home or travel for the holidays, now might be a good time to step back and reevaluate what activities and responsibilities are truly important and which ones you can let go. No matter your age, it is never too late to get back to the basics or start your holiday traditions anew. Below are the ABCs of navigating the holidays with cancer:

  • Acknowledge this year may be different. Don’t place undue stress on yourself by trying to create the perfect holiday – instead, focus on what really matters.
  • Be mindful of your health. Aim to eat healthfully, get plenty of rest and maintain your exercise routine.
  • Change traditions. Lighten the physical and financial burden by suggesting drawing names for a gift exchange instead of purchasing items for every family member.
  • Don’t try to do it all. Maybe your family can’t get through the holidays without your cornbread stuffing or potato latkes but there is nothing that says you can’t pick up dessert at the corner bakery.
  • Enlist the help of others. Even Martha Stewart has a team to help her pull together those grand holiday presentations.

If your holiday plans include travel, preparation is essential. Start by sharing your plans with your doctor and ask about your current health status and whether or not it is safe to travel. Whether you plan to travel by car or by air, prepare by:

  • Making advance arrangements for any special medical equipment you require, such as oxygen.
  • Asking your doctor if you are at an increased risk for blood clots or infection that may affect travel plans.
  • Determining what medications you will need during your time away and packing extra in case of travel delays. If you are flying, keep medications in your carry-on luggage and be aware you may need to make special arrangements for prescription pain medications.
  • Traveling with a letter from your physician outlining your cancer type, treatment regime, medication list and any other pertinent health information.

No matter whether you celebrate at home or away, this year, give yourself the gift of tranquility and healing. It just may be the best present you’ll ever receive.

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