Prepare questions for healthcare providers Staying informed creates a smoother transition during the holidays. No matter the diagnosis, stage, or treatment, good communication with the medical team will assist the caregiver throughout the process. 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. Although aspects of the questions may be heartbreaking, depending on the condition of the patient, caregivers become more secure knowing they have knowledgeable support in the medical staff.

Organize The holiday season often requires a lot of planning and preparation. 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. Allow sufficient time to plan, which might include putting some traditions aside this year. Whatever you decide, give yourself permission to work at your own pace, and in the process, possibly create new traditions for yourself and loved ones.

Respect your loved one’s decisions Support your loved one’s decision. 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 Life as one knows it will not be the same when a loved one is coping with cancer during the holidays; however, caregivers should not be discouraged from being innovative and creating 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.


Mayra Sandoval is an oncology social worker with CancerCare