The holiday season is often associated with joy and cheer. But it can be a trying time for families affected by a cancer diagnosis. Having a plan in place can help survivors and their loved ones make the most of their time together during the season.
To that effect, a recent post from Oncology Nurse Advisor suggests using the acronym SUPPORT to build a framework which allows families faced with cancer to make the holidays as enjoyable as possible for everyone.
Support Network: “CaringBridge helps you set up a free website to keep loved ones informed and list ways they can help. CancerCare oncology social workers provide counseling to anyone affected by cancer: online, face-to-face, or over the telephone. Oncology social workers can also direct you to more resources that address the concerns of caregivers.”
Understand: “Adjusting to change is difficult and especially more so if your loved one is not in the ‘holiday spirit’; however, having the ability to empathize with that person — being able to better understand what that person is thinking — can be more meaningful than all the external trappings of the holiday season.”
Practice self-care: “A caregiver may experience a variety of feelings — sadness, anger, resentment, frustration, and even a loss of hope — under all these demands, which is why self-care is so important. Self-care is defined as identifying your own individual needs and taking steps to meet them. It is also making time to do activities that nurture oneself.”
Prepare questions for healthcare providers: “Prior to meeting with the medical team, the caregiver and patient can brainstorm about specific medical concerns that might impact their ability to celebrate the holidays. An advantage of doing so utilizes the medical team for suggestions on ways your loved one can more fully participate, whether at home or in the hospital.”
Organize: “As a caregiver, you need to find the right balance of participation in the festivities with continuing to meet the care needs of the patient. Whether organizing a holiday celebration or a family reunion, trying to minimize the usual holiday stressors is important.”
Respect your loved one’s decisions: “This can be tough on the caregiver; however, the patient’s experience is unique to him or her and too many activities can be overwhelming. Talking through your feelings with your loved one will fill the holiday and lasting memories with love and compassion.”
Try out new memories: “Including others and remaining respectful of the patient and their current limitations can even help create new traditions. Focusing on the here and now often opens people up to what is most important about holidays: the love and support of family and friends.”