Back December 1, 2016

The Holidays after Breast Cancer: Five Pieces of Advice from ER+ Breast Cancer Survivors

Although there are many ways to celebrate the holidays – from intimate family get-togethers to large gatherings with friends – the holidays are mostly about being together and showing gratitude. But for breast cancer survivors, the holidays can evoke a range of complex emotions.

So what’s it like to return home for the holidays, after having breast cancer? We asked survivors about their plans this season, and what advice they would give to other survivors and their families. Here’s what they said:

  1. Steer Conversations. It’s nice to be around friends and family, who are proud of the progress you have made in your breast cancer journey, but being the focus of attention can be hard. Some breast cancer survivors express that they just want to go back to “normal,” and do not feel comfortable being talked about or identified as a breast cancer survivor, even if it’s in a positive tone. To ease some of that discomfort, try being open about your feelings; let fellow guests know that you appreciate their sentiments, but are ready to talk about other things.
  2. Consider Some Food for Thought. Many women who have undergone treatment with chemotherapy or radiation have been on a restrictive diet that may have prevented them from enjoying holiday meals. Take the time to enjoy it – or, if you’re still under restrictions, to look up some alternative recipes that meet your dietary needs.
  3. Modify Your Traditions. Try to treasure every moment of the holidays that you can, and to continue on with traditions that you have already observed, even if your situation may require some modifications.
  4. Don’t Stress. If you have kids, ask them what would make the season the most meaningful. If you’re worried about cooking the perfect meal, focus instead on one or two dishes you really enjoy. Prioritize things that really matter rather than trying to perfect the holiday, and get as much rest as you can.
  5. Join in! Regardless how long you’ve been a breast cancer survivor, and whether you’re on estrogen-reducing therapy or not, the holidays can sometimes stir up a lot of feelings. Some survivors recommend reaching out to others, and not isolating yourself during the holiday. It’s a good way to get your mind off of other things that might be worrying you.

How are you spending the holidays? Any other advice for breast cancer survivors? Tell us on Twitter and Facebook! And remember to sign up for our newsletter to receive ongoing information on life after breast cancer.