This entry was written by Randi Rentz:
When it comes to giving thanks, breast cancer survivors and their loved ones usually have a full plate. For those who have battled breast cancer, or any other form of cancer, simply having another sunrise…that’s a blessing to be savored and shared. Thanksgiving is a joyous holiday, a time to cherish times with family. But, when you have “The Big C,” the holidays can be exhausting. You may find your greatest intentions to enjoy the day replaced by a deeper desire to simply close your eyes and sleep the holiday away.
Most people look forward to the Thanksgiving weekend as it’s the first long weekend since Labor Day that signals the end of summer. My cancer didn’t care about the end of summer. I just wanted to crawl into bed and put a blanket over my head and smother all of the chemotherapy side effects.
Thanksgiving and all holidays just aren’t the same when going through cancer treatment. Like birthdays, Thanksgiving is always a special celebration that is supposed to fill you with gratitude for the loved ones around you. I used to love getting together with family during these special occasions. But, my chemo side effects took precedent. Instead of getting together with family, I was quite intimate with my toilet.
One of my doctors informed me that fatigue affects quality of life more than nausea, depression, and pain combined. Really? Please pass me another pillow and blanket. I need to roll over. I’m too fatigued.
So how can you enjoy the season, even though you are tired and feel like a train hit you? Here are a few tips that helped me plan ahead. You may want to try a few of my suggestions for your “special day” with family:
- Ask for help. Delegate. It’s okay if you aren’t Wonder Woman for a few days.
- Pace yourself. Short, frequent rest periods really help stamina.
- Prioritize. Choose times when you feel most energetic to do those things you really enjoy.
- Exercise a little. Even a small amount of exercise can help increase your endurance.
We’re all so busy these days; most of us don’t even take time to be with family during Thanksgiving. We live in a helter-skelter world and we rush about without time to breathe—much less to appreciate the one gift that will always be there for us no matter what: family and friends. Our relatives, helpers, companions, and colleagues give essential love and support in any hard situation—especially during a cancer battle. So, sometime after the cancer patient gives thanks for the hospital and oncologists who helped her to be there, she should take time to focus on the really important gift of family and good friends.
Whatever your plans are for the long holiday weekend, learn to take time to be grateful for what you have. Enjoy the family and/or friends, if you are getting together, or enjoy the peace and tranquility of a long lazy weekend sitting in the warm sun with a good book. Give thanks for your health and the love that surrounds you. For it is the memory of these times that will carry you through the ones that are more difficult.