Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
About MyBCTeam

How to Enjoy the Holidays Despite Breast Cancer

Posted on October 23, 2019

Living with breast cancer may change your holidays, but you can still have enjoyable and meaningful celebrations. Although breast cancer may make some holiday traditions challenging, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy connecting with friends and family during the holiday season. By communicating your limitations due to breast cancer, being flexible, and adjusting your expectations, you can help make sure the holidays are happy and memorable.

Communicate Your Needs

Let your loved ones know that connecting with them over the holidays is as important as ever to you, but breast cancer is making it hard to plan as usual due to treatment side effects like fatigue and nausea. You need to put your health first or risk worsening your condition.

  • Don't be afraid to say no.
  • It can help to use direct "I" statements. For instance, "I am not feeling well enough to host this year" is better than "Having everyone over is just too stressful." Communicating in this way makes your needs clear without making others feel accused or burdensome.
  • Even if you usually maintain healthy boundaries, the holidays are a time when they may be tested. If a friend or family member tries to make you feel guilty for setting your boundaries, gently remind them that breast cancer doesn't take the holidays off, as much as you wish it did.

Be Flexible

Instead of saying "no," say "yes" to something else. If a family tradition no longer works for you since you began treatment for breast cancer, it may be time to suggest an update.

  • If you can't travel as usual, consider offering to host. Ask others to bring potluck dishes and help clean up so you don't wind up overdoing it.
  • If you usually host the gathering but can't do it this year, encourage someone else to host instead. They may be delighted to welcome everyone to their home for a change.
  • If you always bring a beloved dish, pass the treasured recipe on to a loved one like you would a family heirloom, or shine the limelight on another chef in the family and invite them to bring their favorite dish.
  • If you can't bring yourself to give up the party, think of ways to save time and energy. Use paper plates, plastic flatware, and disposable tablecloths for easy cleanup. Make decorating (or de-decorating) part of the event and get everyone to help. Plan a low-impact meal such as a stew that simmers all day in the crock pot with little prep work or tending.

If it's just not possible to get together in one place this year, consider using a video chat service such as Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime to have a special holiday call on a smartphone or laptop. During a video chat, you can:

  • Watch family open gifts
  • Have them show you the decorations around the house
  • Read a holiday story or poem to the children
  • Sing favorite holiday songs together

Adjust Your Expectations

Even without breast cancer, holidays often come with high expectations that lead to disappointment and stress. Letting go of the illusion of a "perfect" holiday can help you keep expectations realistic and focus on what's most important about the holidays. For many people, that means connecting with loved ones, being thankful for what you have, and finding hope for the new year.

Here are some mindful tips from Johns Hopkins Medicine for adjusting holiday expectations:

  • Accept that your holidays won't be perfect and will be different from celebrations in years past.
  • Focus on what really counts. Find things to be grateful for and look for new ways to connect with loved ones.
  • If you get into a conflict with someone over the holidays, take a few breaths before you react. Try to stay compassionate and react with kindness.
  • As you reflect on last year, be kind to yourself and let go of any negativity. As you look forward to next year, make smaller, gradual resolutions rather than huge goals that will be difficult to achieve.

During the holidays and year-round, the members of MyBCTeam are here for each other. Joining MyBCTeam means gaining a support group of thousands of others with breast cancer who understand exactly what you're going through.

Here are some conversations from MyBCTeam members about navigating the holiday season with breast cancer:

Have you found ways to celebrate the holidays despite breast cancer? Share in the comments below or post on MyBCTeam.

A MyBCTeam Member said:

how do u feel now

posted about 2 months ago

hug

Recent articles

As of June 10, more than 63 percent of Americans had received at least their first vaccination...

Life After COVID-19 Vaccination: What Are MyBCTeam Members Doing Now That They’re Vaccinated?

As of June 10, more than 63 percent of Americans had received at least their first vaccination...
Feeling a lump in your breast can be frightening — especially if you have had breast cancer. As...

Breast Cancer Lumps: What Does One Feel Like?

Feeling a lump in your breast can be frightening — especially if you have had breast cancer. As...
Breast ultrasound is a breast imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images...

Breast Ultrasound for Breast Cancer

Breast ultrasound is a breast imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images...
Like all cancer, breast cancer is caused when genetic mutations allow cells to divide and grow in...

Quiz: Do You Know the Causes of Breast Cancer?

Like all cancer, breast cancer is caused when genetic mutations allow cells to divide and grow in...
Thinking about factors that might increase your risk of breast cancer — which affects 1 in every...

Soy and Breast Cancer: Is Soy Safe To Eat?

Thinking about factors that might increase your risk of breast cancer — which affects 1 in every...
Because the physical impact of breast cancer can be all-consuming, you may be dealing with...

How Breast Cancer Can Affect Your Mental Health

Because the physical impact of breast cancer can be all-consuming, you may be dealing with...
Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast begin to divide and grow in an uncontrolled way....

Breast Cancer – An Overview

Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast begin to divide and grow in an uncontrolled way....
Some women go to their doctor after they notice symptoms of breast cancer during or between...

Breast Cancer Symptoms

Some women go to their doctor after they notice symptoms of breast cancer during or between...
There are now more treatments for breast cancer than ever before, with new therapies being...

Breast Cancer Treatment

There are now more treatments for breast cancer than ever before, with new therapies being...
Metastatic breast cancer is stage IV of breast cancer progression, not a separate type of breast...

Overview of Metastatic Breast Cancer

Metastatic breast cancer is stage IV of breast cancer progression, not a separate type of breast...
MyBCTeam My breast cancer Team

Two Ways to Get Started with MyBCTeam

Become a Member

Connect with others who are living with breast cancer. Get members only access to emotional support, advice, treatment insights, and more.

sign up

Become a Subscriber

Get the latest articles about breast cancer sent to your inbox.

Not now, thanks

Privacy policy
MyBCTeam My breast cancer Team

Thank you for signing up.

close