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Robyn's Blog: News from Maggie's online centre head

by Robyn

News about the online centre and other cancer related topics
05 December 2017 at 13:13

Looking forward to Christmas.....?

 Christmas items are in the shops, lights have appeared and the holiday season approaches - for many of you this is something to look forward to, however, for others it can be a stressful or lonely time as you face uncertainty, have symptoms or side effects to manage, or are facing the loss of someone close to you whilst trying to put on a brave face for others around you.

Whether you are having guests at home, are spending time away or choosing to avoid Christmas altogether, the following tips and a bit of planning may help you to be able to gain more control of some of the events happening round you and give yourself some space when you need it, allowing you to have a more enjoyable time.

If you have been affected by cancer, or perhaps are supporting someone close to you, and have questions, or want to talk things over you are welcome to visit any of our Centres across the UK and Online . You don't need an appointment, just drop in and you can talk to a member of our professional team as well as meet other people who may be in a similar situation.

Practical matters

•If you are on treatment remember many clinics/services shut down over the holidays so find out who you should call if you feel unwell and get their contact details before the holidays start.

•Check your medications and medical equipment, oxygen, dressings etc and make sure you have enough to last for the holiday period.

•Going away? If you are travelling away from home be prepared - take some extra medications with you and a list of the medications you usually take in case your return is delayed for some reason, it can also be helpful to have a summary of your notes from your doctor just in case you need to see another doctor whilst you are away. If you are in the UK find out if you need to register as a temporary resident to be seen by your friend's/ relatives GP . If you are going abroad make sure you have Insurance and take your European health insurance card . Visit theTravel and cancer section of Maggie's CancerLinks for more details

This can be a very expensive time of year and your income or ability to work may have been reduced due to your cancer. Our benefits advisor Tom (tombenefits) can help you to find out more about grants and benefits available.There are also a number of organisation that have freebies, discounts and offers for people affected by cancer ( and those supporting them ) you can find out more from the gifts treats and experiences section of Maggie’s CancerLinks

Managing symptoms and side effects

•Christmas food can be very rich and you may not feel up to eating it – a quiet word with your host in advance may help avoid an embarrassing moment at the table, ask for a smaller portion if you need one and tell them about any dietary restrictions, difficulties eating or the need for different texture food. If you are affected by nausea (feeling sick) you may need to adjust the time you take your anti sickness tablets to fit round different mealtimes. Caroline's (nutritional advisor) healthy eating blogs have useful advice about all aspects of nutrition and some recipes to try. You can find a list of her blogs here  Caroline also held a series of live sesisons called "food for thought" the live sessions have now finished however if you sign up for the group you can read all the previous transcripts including one on "Christmas food" You can find out more here

•Pain - With a change in routine it can be difficult to remember your medicines – you could set an alarm to remind you to take them, A handy cushion on your lap can help protect from over enthusiastic hugs and leaps from young children or pets.

• Balance activity with rest- Let your host/guests know you may need a rest or a seat in advance, if away from home arrange for a quiet space to retreat to if you need to. Try to avoid overdoing it – if you have a busy day plan some quiet time in as well and perhaps a quieter day the next day. When you are used to doing things for yourself it can be difficult to let others help –try to accept offers of help and delegate tasks where you can.

•Some symptoms etc. may not be visible and others may not be aware of how unwell you are feeling – Have a quiet word in advance with your host/guests and flexible plans where you can choose to sit out/lie down for a while if you don’t feel up to joining in.

•If you have a change to your appearance e.g. hair loss, weight change, surgery you may be feeling less confident about meeting others, particularly those you haven’t seen for a while. Look Good Feel Better hold skincare and make-up workshops across the UK (many in Maggie’s Centres) to help combat the visible side effects of cancer treatment and, in turn, boost confidence and wellbeing. They also produce a confidence kit which you can order from their website ( they ask for a donation but there are also free online tutorials available and you can drop into any of our Centres to sign up for a workshop. In the meantime you could have a look at the LGFB skincare and makeup video tutorials to help get you started on that confidence building. Perhaps also get a trusted friend to help you choose an outfit, scarf or to help you style a wig if you are not yet confident wearing one.

Managing emotions

•Meeting others you haven’t seen for a while can bring up questions you may find difficult, or not want to answer – having a few stock answers for questions can help you to feel more confident to manage the conversation - if someone asks “how are you?” and you don’t want to go into depth about how you are perhaps say I haven’t felt so well lately however I’m going to forget about it for today … or "I have been finding things very difficult but want to avoid dwelling on it today”

•You may find you feel very emotional – it can help to talk to others in a similar situation. The Online Centre is not staffed over Christmas and New Year (although we will make some brief visits) however, it is still possible to talk to others so log on to the Online Centre and have a read through and share with some of the other members via the forums, blogs and personal messages.
if you need a few quiet minutes you could try some of our relaxation exercises and there is also our information website Maggie’s CancerLinks to help you to find information you may need.

•Christmas is a time when memories of those we have lost can be especially difficult. You may also feel guilty that you are feeling sad when everyone else seems to be enjoying themselves. It can help to take some time in the day to do something special in their name - the start of a new family tradition or perhaps just some quiet time and space on your own. If your family is apart for Christmas you might choose to all do something at the same time wherever you are.

• Try not to feel the pressure of having to have a perfect Christmas or to do what others expect or want when you don’t feel up to it, be honest with others and yourself about what you can manage.

Here at Maggie’s Online, as with other Maggie’s Centres the online team will be off from 5pm on Friday 22nd December returning on Wednesday 3rd January, (though the online team will be popping in occasionally to keep an eye on things). The conversation boards blogs and personal messages will continue to be available for members to talk to existing and new friends, and you can use our information website Maggie’s CancerLinks.

Best wishes to you all

Robyn



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