Connecting with Cancer Support Resources During the Holidays

Connecting with Cancer Support Resources During the Holidays

Reviewed by Jasper Clinical Board

Last updated 12/21/21

The holidays are billed as being all about joy and magic, but the other side of the coin for a lot of folks is that the winter holiday season brings the blues. Stress, loneliness, overwhelm, and family challenges are on the table for many people, and when you have something big and hard going on in your life—like cancer treatment—it can feel hollow and painful to try to manufacture holiday cheer. 
At the same time, some treasured family rituals, including traveling, can prove difficult when you are struggling physically. Getting ahead of the possibility of a hard season by setting up a net of plans, strategies, and resources can help you feel safely cocooned rather than out in the cold. 
Cancer-specific resources 
If you haven’t yet reached out for cancer-specific support, know that the broader cancer community is full of resources that you can lean on, any time of year—you can always call the Cancer Support Helpline or check out this comprehensive list of online support communities
There are also financial supports available through programs like Family Reach’s Financial Treatment Program, which offers targeted support and financial coaching to patients and survivors and their families. 
Mental health strategies and resources 
Knowing that this year may feel different than your pre-cancer holidays, think about where you can reach out for mental health support. If you have a counselor or therapist who is available over the holidays, setting up a phone session can be a huge weight off your shoulders. If that’s not possible, consider enlisting a trusted friend, a support group member, your cancer mentor or care navigator, or another member of your support team for a venting or chatting session. 
Even if you’re not sure what you’ll be up for in terms of socializing, make plans so that you are not alone. It’s okay to ask people to come to you, or to just meet for something short and lowkey. 
If breathwork and meditation isn’t yet part of your personal wellness practice, trying out an app like Calm can give you a needed moment of respite to sit with your feelings, no matter what else is going on. Other ways you can invest in your mental health are spending time with people who feel safe and comforting, giving yourself permission to skip anything that you don’t feel up for, eating balanced meals as you’re able, and doing whatever form of movement is appropriate to where your body is currently at. If you’re able to take in some sunlight, so much the better for the mood-boosting factor. 
How to navigate oncology care when your doc is on vacation 
Another element of holiday-season cancer care is vacation time—your doctor’s vacation time, that is. When you have a strong relationship with a trusted doctor, it can feel scary to know that they may not be available. Ask your doc about their coverage plan for the holidays and if they can tell you a bit about the doctors who will be subbing for them. Knowing who you’ll be reaching out to (and that your doctor trusts them with your case) if you should need medical support can take some of the anxiety out of receiving an out-of-office message. 
Make sure, too, that you have a clear protocol for how to get in touch with the covering doctor(s)—will they be taking phone calls directly, or will you need to go through a hospital’s paging service? Write down all the relevant names and phone numbers and keep them in your phone or wallet so you can easily contact them if you have an issue or need to talk to a doc. 
Throughout the holiday season, your Jasper Care Coach will be on-call at, and you can always reach out to them with questions, for support, or to get help navigating a treatment issue.  
Planning ahead 
As you peruse these support options, remember that the easiest time to research and set up support strategies and services is ahead of time—not when you acutely need them. Even if you think this holiday season is sure to be a breeze, it’s worth bookmarking some of these resources or making a hypothetical plan for how to respond if the holiday blues do end up coming for you. 
In a season of gifts, traditions, and obligations, it’s worth remembering that taking thoughtful care of yourself is a gift you can offer to yourself and your loved ones, and that you don’t need to compromise self-care to show up for holiday events. Asking for help takes a lot of bravery, so let us remind you that you deserve support, and that it’s okay to rest, to seek that support, or to simply say “this is hard.”

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