What does the festive season mean to you?

What does the festive season mean to you?

Assorted Christmas decorations, mostly gold with some green in the background

As the holiday season is in full swing, we know that this time of year can look different for different families. The traditions and customs that you follow can vastly differ from the ways others spend time with loved ones.


The varying pressures and expectations at this time of year can lead to a mix of emotions for people affected by cancer.

However you like to celebrate or honour tradition in your family during the holiday period, the Online Community is here as a source of cancer support.

In today’s Community News Blog, we are talking about managing the festive period. We will be looking at the different ways people cope with difficult emotions at a time when others are often celebrating, or at least seem to be.

Cancer support during the festive period

Cancer can have a large impact at this time of year. Worrying about loved ones affected by cancer and missing those who are no longer with us, are common emotions we see on the Community throughout the festive season.

"Hello everyone, anyone else feeling so much anxiety about your loved one not being here for Xmas. Today my mum looked frail and painfully thin she’s been so looking forward to Xmas with us all. I’m full of anxiety thinking she will either be too ill or we will lose her before." 

- Community Member


It can feel like tradition expects us to be celebrating throughout this time of year. Often though, our members express that they are actually not looking forward to it at all. 

"I am also really not looking forward to Christmas. It used to be all my mums doing so this year will be very different. 

I suppose we have to find a way to cope with the loss but just not really sure how at the moment.

Sending you my best wishes" 

- Community Member

This can be for all sorts of reasons.


"To be honest I cannot wait for Christmas and new year to be over and to say goodbye to the worst year of my entire life (as many of you will be)." 

- Community Member

We are here today to remind you that the Online Community is a source of cancer support whenever you need it. It’s a place where you can post your honest feelings and find cancer care. Members often say that they feel they can be honest on here in ways that might feel uncomfortable when talking to loved ones face to face.

"Lovely to meet you, sorry that we meet here but I have met so many fantastic people on this site that it’s been much more of a positive supporting place and very safe! It’s good to know that you can just talk without worrying  about feelings or the impact on others." 

- Community Member


Why not share how you are feeling, you might feel better if you do.

"Thank you so much for spending time to read my post, I really appreciate it. Your words are so kind and I feel so much better somebody has reassured me and listened to me." 

- Community Member

Christmas

For many in the UK Christmas acts as an important time of year for catching up with loved ones around the country. The Covid-19 pandemic had a large impact on Christmas last year with restrictions changing in the lead-up to it. Many people, particularly cancer patients and their loved ones, had to reorganise their plans for Christmas day.

Anyone currently undergoing cancer treatment has lots to think about because of the Covid-19 pandemic too.

We hope everyone manages a safe and enjoyable Christmas this year, whatever that means for you and your loved ones.


Christmas cards

Knowing what to write in a Christmas card, for someone you know is dealing with a lot, can be difficult. For those that send Christmas cards yearly, the last few years have been more challenging in writing the ‘right’ thing to honour the special occasion.

We also know that some cancer patients can feel there are certain things they don’t want to hear.

"Hi, yes stay positive and stay strong drove me mad. I didn’t have a good prognosis but thanks to the skill of my surgeon I’m still here. I tried to keep positive but did have some dark days especially when I was so ill before the operation. Recovering during the pandemic alone was also a bad time. I found so much help and support on these boards and that got me through it. I found it easier to cope by just trying to go with the flow of the varying emotions. I’m over 2 years on and feel much better emotionally. Best wishes"

- Community Member


If you are unsure of what to write, or want Christmas gift ideas for someone affected by cancer, why not make a post here and ask? I’m sure our members will be happy to help.

Receiving Christmas cards that are lacking, or including, names of loved ones can be equally upsetting.

"Just when I thought I was doing ok I came home from work today, opened the post and there was my first Christmas card - with only my name in it- and it’s absolutely floored me. I knew writing cards would be hard (but I added my dogs name on to try to make it less obvious that a name was missing ) but I wasn’t expecting this."

- Community Member

It’s something to be mindful of when writing Christmas cards. We appreciate that this is challenging, we are here to offer a space for open discussions on these difficult issues.

How is your Christmas looking? How do you deal with isolation?

For all the reasons mentioned so far, Christmas may not look how you would like this year.

Loneliness and isolation is something most people deal with at times in their life. The last few years of living with the coronavirus pandemic have unfortunately increased these feelings and experiences of isolation for many. Cancer patients and those currently receiving cancer treatment, face more challenges than ever in dealing with isolation.

"I suppose I’m looking for reassurances (I know no one can give me them) but I’m struggling.  Can’t face Xmas, struggling with the whole “isolating” not seeing anyone/going anywhere.  Just wish this nightmare would end." 

- Community Member


So what do you do to feel better when you are feeling low? Have you taken an action you’d like to share, that helped you to find support or feel better?

Why not write below so that others might benefit from it too.

On the Community people often talk about ways they look after themselves.

"I so understand the anxiety, fear etc. Unfortunately no matter how scary it is, try to think positive. I have raised to my onco how I will manage it all and being single mum I needed to still function. So talk to your onco. Its definitely doable but we just need to get our head around it. Some workshops online can help, ie Look Good Feel Better or listen to podcasts can calm u a bit. Macmillan's helpline is good to call and also there is a chemo thread on here too for comfort. Everyone's journey is different.

You know there are so so many ladies in the same shoes, i am waiting on chemo date. So don't feel you're alone in this." 

- Community Member


The Online Community is here for you to share your feelings 24 hours a day. However you are feeling, you are not alone.

Positivity

The word ‘positivity’ can have a few different meanings. It’s important to recognise that being ‘positive’ doesn’t mean being happy at all times. Positivity can mean being honest with yourself, however you’re feeling. Acknowledging your feelings and moving in a ‘positive’ direction for you, whatever that means during this festive season, is the ‘Positivity’ we are talking about today.

"We are all different and you should do what makes you feel better, less anxious. I found that once I had my plan for treatment it really helped, I knew what I was doing. The routine and structure was surprisingly comforting. I started doing meditation through the Aura app (I am by no means someone who would consider this before) it allowed me to sleep better and just clear my mind for a short time if I needed to. I did find it easier once everyone knew and to be honest there was no hiding it. I tried to keep as much normality as possible and enjoy time with friends/work when there."

- Community Member

Hopefully you can find something that works in helping you through this often more difficult time.

As a registered Charity, Macmillan Cancer Support is here to offer free and confidential support to people affected by cancer and their loved ones.

Here on the Online Community, we hope that we can act as a source of cancer support online during the festive period.

If you have any feedback at all on this content, or anything you’d like to see more of during the holiday season, feel free to leave comments below. You might find others going through something similar.

We realise that the covid-19 pandemic can make fundraising more complex. Since people often want to get involved in fundraising this time of year, we wanted to mention our organising a charity event page to answer any fundraising related questions.

We hope you all have a safe and pleasant festive season, from all of us here on the Community Team.

An image of bright fireworks across a dark black sky

Anonymous
  • How do you make what is likely to be a last Christmas for someone you love, very special when they are feeling so unwell? 

  • hi all Sorry if this is all on the same line. I lost my father and my wife’s mother at this time, even with this it could never stifle my loving this time of year. I know lots are suffering with people in hospital or in care homes, my thoughts and well wishes go out to you. All the staff who look after them to, their mega stars to much for words. So to all that know me, ( I have incurable PC ) A very merry Christmas to you all, from myself and my caring wife, who would wish you all the same.

  • A big thank you to all the Macmillan staff and the members of this community.

     It has helped me so much being part of it. Knowing that there is someone out there who understands just how I feel has been a life saver. Christmas can be a hard time when your life is upside down. For me it has been a milestone towards recovery and acceptance of my new life which has changed forever.

    Wishing you all a very peaceful and happy Christmas.

    Lyn

  • Hi ,

    Thank you for taking the time to share a comment.

    I’m so sorry to read that a loved one of yours is very unwell. We know from our members how difficult that can feel at this time of year.

    We have a Carers only forum on the site. If this applies to you, it may be somewhere you can find and connect with others facing these same difficult questions. We also have a Supporting someone with incurable cancer forum which may be appropriate.

    Aside from this we do have a more general Family and friends forum where you could get support.

    Hopefully in these forums you can find and talk to others who know how you are feeling, to help you through the festive period. 

    If you have any questions for us on the Community Team, you can reply directly here or email us at community@macmillan.org.uk anytime.

    Kindest Regards,

    Tom
    Macmillan Community Team

  • Hi ,

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm sure others will relate to your comments around this time of year acting as a reminder or milestone.

    Have a peaceful and happy Christmas too.

    Kindest Regards, 

    Tom
    Macmillan Community Team