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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
29 December 2012 at 12:15

Christmas and new year holidays

The Christmas and new year holiday is nearly here and 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.

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

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 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 healthy eating blogs have useful advice about all aspects of nutrition and some reciepies to try. You can read her latest blog 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. 

• 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 – 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 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 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 12 step skincare and beauty regime 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. Maggie’s Centre’s are closed over the holidays and the online centre is not staffed over Christmas and New Year, however, it is still possible to talk to others so log on to the online centre and have a chat with some of the other members,  You could also try some of our relaxation exercises and there is also our information website Maggie’s CancerLinks to help you to find any information you 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 the evening of Christmas Eve until Thursday 3rd January.  In the meantime the conversation boards and personal messages are available for members to talk to existing and new friends,  and you can use our information website Maggie’s CancerLinks.  All of us in the online team  look forward to catching up with existing members and meeting new ones when we return in the new year.

 Best wishes








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