Ten Holiday Tips for Friends and Relatives of Cancer Patients

Bonnie Schuman
Last Modified: December 1, 2004

The holiday season is not always joyous for everyone. For those struggling with serious issues, such as cancer, the holiday season can be a time of loneliness and depression. Harold Benjamin, PhD, founder of The Wellness Community, America's leading support program devoted to providing free psychological and emotional support to cancer patients and their families, offers the following holiday tips for FRIENDS and RELATIVES of cancer patients:

1. Make plans for Christmas, Chanukah, New Year or even next New Year -- making
plans for the future means that there is a future in their future.

2. Share your life with them to an even greater extent -- this is the season of love and
affection. Be a part of their lives. Make them a part of yours.

3. Include them in everything -- don't you make the decisions as to what they can and
can't do. Don't take away any more control than they have already had to give up.

4. This might be a good time to invite them to talk about how they are feeling -- what the
holidays mean to them and to you.

5. Touching and hugging is particularly appropriate now.

6. Spend time with them -- don't abandon them. The gift of time is, after all, the most precious gift you can give each other.

7. Share your laughter and joy of the holiday season. Life isn't over with the diagnosis -- not by a longshot.

8. Do some of their "chores" -- whatever that word means to both of you. Be of as much practical help as you can. Ask them how you can help them fight for recovery.

9. This is also the time to demonstrate the degree of your love or affection, not the time to be timid or bashful.

10. Have a joyful time yourself -- for all the obvious reasons.