For many the festive season is a special time of year, however for those affected by cancer this period can be a particularly difficult time.
To support individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer, their family and friends, Cancer Council Victoria has developed a factsheet entitled Special Occasions and Celebrations, which highlights how people can best prepare for the challenges associated with social celebrations and milestones.
Joan, who cared for her brother through cancer, said that the information and reassurance provided by the Cancer Council was invaluable during the stressful holiday season.
"My brother had lung cancer and he passed away in January. I appreciated the phone calls and counselling support at a challenging time. It was a great help to me as his carer," said Joan.
Katherine Lane, 13 11 20 Nurse Manager at Cancer Council Victoria, said her team of cancer nurses receive hundreds of calls to Cancer Council 13 11 20 from people affected by cancer during the summer holidays.
"This can be a very difficult time for people affected by cancer. We speak to people who may be worried that their feelings and emotions may dampen the celebrations for others or that they may experience frustrating delays in appointments, treatments and results over this period."
Ms Lane said it is not only those who have been personally diagnosed who may find this time of year tough, encouraging family and friends who are finding it a lonely and sad time of the year without a loved one also to seek support.
"Cancer Council has experienced cancer nurses who are here to listen to concerns and offer emotional and practical support for challenges or feelings of sadness that they may be facing."
Some tips for getting through the holiday season include setting realistic expectations with friends and loved ones, keeping activities simple and creating new traditions when usual celebrations are not possible.