For the average person, the holiday season can be tiring with the never ending shopping list, the many party invites, decorating (darn you, Pinterest!) and the inevitable wave of emotions that come from watching heart wrenching Christmas movies (don’t jump, George Bailey!). The problem is that while all of this happens during a regular holiday season, all of these feelings are probably heightened a thousand percent if you are struggling to overcome cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy.

The holidays can be managed while having fun during chemotherapy.

However, you can make the end of the year a memorable one. Here are some tips to enjoying the holiday season while undergoing chemo:

Just Say “No”

If you want to just have a low key day on Christmas with only your partner and kids, do it. If you don’t feel up to attending the annual New Year’s Eve party, don’t. There are very few times in life where the world revolves around you. This is one of those times to make yourself the top priority.

Take the Easy Route

No one expects you to make an eight course dinner, have your house spick and span or look like you stepped out of the most recent copy of In Style magazine. Give yourself permission to buy the pie, let the dust bunnies live under the couch a while longer and forego the trendy eye makeup. Many times, the pressure we feel is self-induced. This year, it’s good enough to be good enough.

Let Others Help You

Pride, worrying about being a burden, embarrassment and countless other reasons can cause you to say “no” when friends and family offer to help. Let those who love you do something to feel like they’re making your burdens lighter. Most of the time, the people around you don’t know what to say or do to show that they care, so allow them to help you. If your sister wants to bring you dinner or your mother-in-law wants to clean your house, say okay.

Plan for Extra Attention

sure how to act. You’ll also probably be asked the same questions over and over: How are you feeling? How many treatments do you have left? How is your family handling everything? It can ease your stress to have the answers ready and to just accept that you’ll have the same conversation multiple times.

Pull Out That Smart Phone

When you feel good, go out. When you feel tired or sick, don’t. Show yourself some grace and know that it’s fine to stay home. After all, one of the benefits to today’s technology is that you can be a part of the fun with pictures and video calls even if you can’t leave your bedroom. For example, my cousin is currently undergoing chemotherapy and couldn’t drive the two hours to come to our family get together on Thanksgiving. She wasn’t up to face timing, so we made a little video for her telling her how much we loved her and that we’re cheering her on. She texted us back that she loved the video and was grateful that we were thinking of her.


The holidays are a stressful and busy time for even the healthiest people. No one is going to judge you for not wrapping the perfect presents or for not showing up to parties. Do what you can when you can and give yourself permission step back when you need to. It’s ironic that we get so lost in the hustle and bustle that we forget what the holidays are truly about. Maybe taking a break and simplifying things is the best way for anyone to really enjoy this special time of year.