Navigating holiday travel with cancer

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In June, we wrote a blog post about traveling while undergoing cancer treatment. That post covered many of the logistical considerations someone with cancer may need to consider, such as proximity of your destination to a treatment center, paperwork you may need to breeze through screenings, any needed vaccinations and the importance of planning ahead.

With the busy holiday season right around the corner, many people, including those dealing with cancer treatments, are making plans to travel to spend time with family members both near and far. Take a few minutes to read through the earlier post, but also remember that the holidays bring additional considerations for those cancer patients traveling to visit friends and family.

Consider the weather. If you’re traveling to a destination with a climate that is either much warmer or much colder than you’re used to, remember to bring appropriate clothing. Various forms of cancer treatments may affect your body temperature, so plan ahead with clothing well suited to the climate you’re visiting. Plan to bring clothing you can layer, so you can add or remove as needed.

Holiday hustle and bustle. For many, the holidays are a time to catch up with family members you haven’t seen for a year – including children of all ages. Let your host know that you may need an area where you can have some downtime, to relax, rest, nap or simply take a break from the flurry of activity.

Remember holiday closures. Don’t forget that many drugstores or other medical supply stores have limited hours and closures during Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Plan ahead and make sure you have all your prescriptions or other supplies you will need to get you through your trip.

Avoid over-indulgence. All of us are guilty of a little over indulgence during the holiday season. Those undergoing cancer treatments are no different, but be certain to take extra precaution not to mix prescriptions with food or drinks that will cause adverse affects or make you feel even worse. If you’re allowed to have alcohol, be careful not to drink too much. Try to maintain a diet similar to what you’re currently following for best results.

Avoid family drama. For some families, “lively” debates are as much a part of their holiday gatherings as the turkey. For someone undergoing cancer treatment, it might be a good time to utilize that quiet space if family tensions start to run a little high. Avoiding any unnecessary stress is always a good idea, so excuse yourself from the drama until it subsides.

Enjoy the holidays with your friends and family, but remember to take care of your emotional and medical needs during that time as well.

Maintaining good health through the stressful holiday season.

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Let’s face it, even though the holidays are full of wonderful memories with family and friends, they are stressful. Adding gift shopping, cooking and travel to our already jam-packed lives can leave you feeling exhausted and stressed – not joyful and merry. We often take all this stress for granted, but too much can leave us feeling cranky, tired and trigger depression. The holiday season can be hard on many levels, but if you happen to also be dealing with health issues such as cancer, the holidays can indeed take a toll on your health as well.

Before things get overwhelming, here are some tips to consider as we head into this busy, but wonderful time of year.

Keep a calendar. Keep track of must-attend events and travel dates and accept/decline additional invites around those most important ones. Set priorities around things you want to achieve and be realistic with what’s possible.

Remember it’s OK to say no. Once your calendar starts to fill up, it’s entirely acceptable to politely decline invitations. This also goes for volunteer requests, social events, church events and traveling. Carefully schedule your appointments, and listen to your body when it needs rest.

Stay on budget. Sometimes we go all-out in the attempt to find the perfect gift. There is rarely a perfect gift. Maintain your budget and January’s stress will be greatly reduced.

Ask for help. You don’t have to take it all on yourself. Children can wrap gifts, decorate cookies and help more around the house during this time of year. You could also combine a get-together with friends or family with a gift-wrapping night or a cookie swap. If you need help with things like decorating, ask friends to come over and help and offer an afternoon of catching up and cocoa and cookies when they’re finished.

Watch what you eat and drink. The holidays are filled with delicious food and opportunities to over indulge. It’s certainly fine to enjoy yourself, but too much over indulgence can be bad for your waistline, and too much alcohol can make for misery the following day. Remember to take it easy, drink lots of water, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as an option during the meals. If you’re able to exercise, continue your exercise plan throughout the holiday season.

Take time to enjoy the season. Take time for reflection and pause to remember loved ones near and far. Counting your blessings is one way to deflect all the pressure and stress the season brings. Enjoy those around you.