You have cancer and just want to be alone. All you really want for Christmas is for the cancer to be gone.
How do you get through the holidays when you’re not feeling cheery? How do you enjoy the Christmas festivities when you’ve been told to watch what you eat and drink? How do you prepare for Christmas so that you don’t feel stressed and overwhelmed?
Here are six recommendations to successfully get through the holiday season happier and healthier.
1. Shop online – The thought of visiting a mall full of germs, with your lowered immune system, kind of freaks you out. This year, take a break from bacteria and visit the Internet instead. You can get anything you wish for online. If the gift doesn’t fit or isn’t quite right, the purchase policy probably allows you to exchange it in store.
Gift cards/certificates are great too. You can enlist the help of a friend or family member to go out and buy them for you. Remember all those people that asked, “What can I do to help?” Take them up on the offer. Not only will it keep you safe from the exposure to potentially harmful germs but also your loved ones will feel good knowing they are helping you.
2. Limit sugary treats – I am the first to admit that I love my Mum’s holiday baking. It wouldn’t be Christmas without it. However, when battling cancer, eating sugar and white flour is another story. Glucose is the #1 fuel for the cells in your body and that includes cancer cells. It is imperative that you reduce your consumption, or cut it out altogether.
However, if there is a traditional cookie or bread that fills you with joy during the holidays, have it. There is something to be said about feeding your soul. My recommendation, though, is to take a few moments in a comfy chair and truly savor not only the flavor but also the memories behind it.
3. Eat extra veggies and fruit – As you go through cancer treatment, whether it’s chemotherapy or radiation, your immune system takes a beating. You need to build up your immune system as best as you can. The main nutrients you need for this are Vitamins A, C and E, as well as zinc and selenium. There are many supplements on the market today that have these immune building ingredients, but I always advise my clients to eat a rainbow of real fruit and vegetables every day. And please make sure it’s organic!
These foods contain beta-carotene and carotenoids that convert to vitamin A in our body: Tomatoes, carrots, squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, apricots, cantaloupe, tangerine, asparagus, broccoli, kale, collard greens, beets
Vitamin C rich foods: peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, sweet potato, peppers, oranges, papaya, cantaloupe, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, kiwi fruit, blueberries
Vitamin E: red peppers, carrots, pumpkin, mangoes, papaya, broccoli, mustard and turnip greens, spinach, swiss chard, nuts, sunflower seeds
Zinc: Oysters, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains
Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna, poultry, whole grains
For tips and delicious recipes to bring more veggies and fruits into your diet, check out my eBook titled, “Cancer Prehab 101: Juices and Smoothies”.
4. Avoid alcohol – The holidays are often a gathering of friends and family, and it often involves a glass of wine or spirits. However, with cancer it is critical to eliminate alcohol. Your liver is already going through hell trying to metabolize the cocktail of drugs introduced to your body. It doesn’t need more trying to eliminate alcohol.
Again, if a glass of wine at Christmas dinner is an important tradition to you, then have a glass, but limit it to one. Then drink sparkling water and pure cranberry juice. It is delicious and festive and you’ll be doing your body a favor.
5. Reduce animal protein consumption –The bestselling book “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., examines the relationship between the consumption of animal products (including dairy) and chronic illnesses such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancers of the breast, prostate and bowel. The authors conclude that people who eat a plant-based/vegan diet—avoiding all animal products, including beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese and milk, and reducing their intake of processed foods and refined carbohydrates —will escape, reduce or reverse the development of numerous diseases. They write that "eating foods that contain any cholesterol above 0 mg is unhealthy."
Campbell also goes on to say that animal protein fuels cancer that already exists.
Numerous studies also show animal protein cooked at high temperatures form carcinogenic compounds, which, as the name states, contribute to cancer risk.
Consume plant-based proteins as your main source. They provide the antioxidant effects of vegetables to help offset the effects of the traditional turkey you eat at the Christmas dinner table.
6. Spend time with loved ones – You may feel like crawling under a blanket and forgetting about the world. You could be experiencing feelings of anger, vulnerability, sadness, fear of recurrence or death, depression, anxiety or panic. This emotional distress can affect your ability to carry out everyday activities.
First of all, know that these feelings are common, and it’s okay to feel the way you do, but keeping them to yourself is not a healthy way to deal with them. Being in the company of others and talking about what you’re feeling does wonders for the soul. Whether it’s with a support group or your doctor, with family and/or friends, talk with whom you feel most comfortable.
And when someone says, “What can I do to help?” let them do something for you. Your loved ones care about you and want to offer support. Come up with a list of things that you really could use help with: a ride to the doctor, making meals or snacks (like muffins), going to the grocery store, yard work, housecleaning or just coming over for a visit to talk about anything else but your cancer.
Do what you feel comfortable doing, not what others expect you to do, and don’t feel guilty about your decisions, only you know what’s really best for you.
As you move through the holiday season surviving cancer, know that your focus on wellness, tradition and friends and family, will turn surviving into thriving.
Making simple changes can feel overwhelming, finding a starting point is often a challenge. If you or anyone you know needs assistance making these diet and lifestyle changes, I am a Certified Professional Cancer Coach and can help. We can meet one-on-one, chat on the phone, or connect through Facetime or Skype. Call me at 778-836-3831 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In good health,
Cheryl Wahl, RHN
Certified Professional Cancer Coach