ATLANTA, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The holidays can be a difficult time of year for a cancer patient or if a loved one is facing cancer, but U.S. cancer experts say there are ways to cope.
The American Cancer Society suggests those with cancer give themselves permission to feel and express their feelings, whether of joy, fear, sadness or pain.
Usual traditions may be disrupted by treatment needs or unpleasant side effects; the demands of the season may feel overwhelming when combined with the emotions stirred by dealing with a serious illness -- these are losses to acknowledge, the American Cancer Society said.
But then, "prepare for the holidays. Decide if you want to continue certain traditions or create new ones. Plan in advance how you want to spend your time, with whom, and for how long," the American Cancer Society said. "Enlist support for organizing holiday gatherings, meal preparation, and clean up. Learn to say no. You don't have to participate in everything."
The cancer group also advised to:
-- Eat balanced meals and make time for some exercise. Physical activity is a good way to release the tension that builds around this time of year.
-- Allow yourself simple pleasures -- hot baths, naps, favorite foods -- that will help lift your mood.
-- Find distractions like going to a movie or dinner; or other activities you enjoy.
-- Don't pressure yourself with unrealistic expectations.
-- Don't overindulge in alcohol. Since alcohol is a depressant, it can "bring out" or heighten bad feelings.
-- Don't try to force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.
Call the American Cancer Society at (800) 227-2345 any time day or night, even holidays, to speak with a real person and get local resources to help.