Helpful Tips to Get You Through the Holiday Season

Our Cancer Nurse Elizabeth has put together a list of tips to get you through the holiday season. We focus on Travelling, Alcohol, Eating with Nausea, Eating with Mucositis and Socialising

With the festive season well underway and Christmas fast approaching, Live Better With has composed a few handy tips to help you enjoy the season.

Travelling with cancer:

If you find yourself travelling over the Christmas period, small adjustments could make the journey more bearable

  • If travelling by car, plan regular breaks for you to stretch your legs and get some fresh air
  • Breaks are not always possible when travelling by train or plane but walking up and down the aisle at regular intervals can promote circulation and reduce muscle pain and cramps
  • Drink lots of water. Being hydrated improves circulation which is crucial when being sedentary for long periods of time
  • Be prepared. You don’t want to get to your destination and realise you have forgotten a medication or product that you know you need. Writing a list of what you need to pack and setting time to pack will reduce the chance of being left without
  • Know where you are going. Different countries (and cities) can have different health care systems. Knowing where to go and what to do in case of an emergency before you leave can reduce travelling anxiety
  • Relax. Easier said than done sometimes. For some, the travelling and Christmas can cause heightened anxiety levels. Mindfulness and yoga books, as well as adult colouring-in books, are excellent travel companions to help take your calm your mind

Alcohol:

What would Christmas be without a glass of mulled wine/whisky/champagne (whatever your preference is!). Still, alcohol does affect multiple organs and can interact with common medications and treatments. It can also cause fatigue, nausea and other side-effects you may already be experiencing.

If you don’t think you can go without alcohol, try speaking to your treating doctor or nurse about expectations versus reality. You may find that although sharing a bottle or two of red with the family may not be recommended, a small glass of wine with a meal could be a compromise.

Eating for nausea:

Overindulging and Christmas go hand-in-hand. But your stomach may not be as robust as it once was. The following tips will hopefully reduce the anxiety caused by the Christmas meal

  • Plan the meal. Smells can make one nauseous, especially on some chemotherapy treatments, so inform your host/ess of what sets you off and try to offer some alternatives that you know that won’t cause you to feel unwell
  • Preparation, preparation, preparation. Make sure you’re well stocked up on anti-nausea medication and take at regular intervals (as per your prescription)
  • Bring your own meal. If you can’t plan the meal, bring food that you know won’t make you feel ill and that you can stomach
  • Don’t feel guilty. Eating for the sake of someone’s feelings could, in turn, ruin your Christmas. Politely apologise and ask to take some left-overs home for you to eat when you’re feeling more up to it

Eating for mucositis:

Mucositis is an unpleasant side-effect of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, made, even more, challenging with the temptations throughout the Christmas period. The following tips aim at switching foods that won’t aggravate mucositis.

  • Avoid foods that can irritate your mucositis. These include, but are not limited to, hot and spicy foods, citrus fruits, alcohol, carbonated drinks and “tough” foods (such as crusty bread or non-tender meat).
  • Plan the meal. People aren’t often aware of the implications of mouth sores or mucositis. If possible try and plan the meal alongside the host/ess. If this is not feasible inform your host/ess of what you can and cannot eat
  • Bring your own meal. If you can’t plan the meal, bring food that you know won’t irritate or inflame your mucositis
  • Don’t feel guilty. Eating for the sake of someone’s feelings could, in turn, ruin your Christmas. Politely apologise and ask to take some left-overs home for you to eat when you’re feeling more up to it

Socialising:

The Christmas period is often filled with functions and parties. Even when at full strength these festive days can be long and exhausting. Here are a few tips to enjoying everyone’s (including your crazy uncle’s) company.

  • Be selfish! People often forget that chemotherapy and radiotherapy do not take a holiday. If you are undergoing treatment during this time of year remember to take care of yourself and don’t push your limits
  • If required to bring a dish or bake, ask for the most simplest dish needed, or something that can be bought from the supermarket (such as chocolates or a fruit platter)
  • Prioritise your functions. If you only have energy for one function, ensure it is the one you want to go to. Friends and family should understand if you are unable to attend
  • If they don’t (and we all know that one person!) set a specific time for when you can stay, apologise and inform them that you need your rest

If you do find a conflict in the calendar between treatment and something you want to attend, speak to your Doctor. Although not typically recommended, on occasion it can be possible to reschedule your treatment a day before or after their date. (Please note this is up to your doctor's discretion).

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