Frivolity and fun with friends and family is most commonly associated with the festive season, but for those affected by cancer this time of year can be a particularly difficult time. Cancer Council Victoria’s fact sheet, Special Occasions and Celebrations, supports individuals by offering practical tips to help people look after themselves over the holiday season.
Katherine Lane, Nurse Manager at Cancer Council Victoria, encouraged anyone needing support to reach out to their loved ones or to call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
“Cancer Council 13 11 20 receives hundreds of calls during the summer holidays. 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 the holiday season is tough not only for those living with cancer, but also for family and friends who are finding it a lonely and sad time of the year without a loved one.
“Cancer Council Victoria has experienced health professionals who are here to listen to concerns and offer emotional and practical support for challenges or feelings of sadness that they may be facing.”
Ms Lane said there is also the Cancer Council Online Community, a safe and supportive online site for patients, their carers and families. Through blogs, discussion forums and support groups, members can discuss their experiences and share stories, tips and coping strategies to help normalise concerns and reduce social isolation.
“An increasing number of people are seeking peer support through digital forums to connect with others who can relate to what they are experiencing, particularly important over this time of year.”
In December last year, the Cancer Council Online Community had more than 17,000 page views in the month alone. The online platform has more than 5,200 members to date and is designed to complement existing Cancer Council information, connecting people with each other in real time, regardless of when they need it.
One Cancer Council Online Community member used the forum to reach out for information and support after being diagnosed with cancer, writing: “Since starting my journey only a couple months ago I'm overwhelmed and surprised by how much help and support is out there... I've been bombarded with so much info and I feel well informed, but still have lots of questions. Hopefully this group can help with some of them.”
“What’s most appealing about the platform is its accessibility – it’s available 24/7 and from any online device. There are closed groups for discussion of sensitive issues and the entire website is moderated and community managed by qualified health professionals,” Ms Lane said.
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.
For more information on the factsheet or to receive a copy of the factsheet
visit www.cancervic.org.au/living-with-cancer/holidays-and-travel/special-occasions-celebrations or call 13 11 20.
To visit Cancer Council’s Online Community, go to www.cancercouncil.com.au/OC