From OHC

December 13, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Joanie Manzo
Director, Marketing & Physician Services
513-751-2145 x10143
joan.manzo@usoncology.com

‘Tis the holiday season, and the hustle and bustle of the preparations, decorating, shopping and celebrations is upon us. For anyone, this time of year can bring stress, fatigue, and heightened tensions, but for a cancer patient, the holidays can pose an overwhelming barrage of emotions and physical challenges. By taking time to pause and reflect on the deeper meaning behind the season—which can be peace, compassion, spirituality, or connecting with others while creating memories—you will focus on what truly matters. In that vein, there are several things you can do to reach out to a loved one or friend with cancer and help them cope with this festive time.

Ask Patients How They Want to Celebrate

“Patients, particularly those more recently diagnosed, might not want to be bombarded with the questions and conversations about their health that have the potential to take place at a gathering,” said OHC advanced practice provider, Lisa Ovesen, MSN, APRN. “They believe their cancer journey is personal and something they should not have to discuss with party guests. Rather, they want to spend their time enjoying the company of others at holiday celebrations.”

  • Be mindful of patient boundaries and follow their lead
  • If they do not openly share their wishes, do not hesitate to ask about their preferences
  • Avoid comments on their appearance or change in energy level and focus on being supportive.

Offer to Assist with Preparations

The cooking, baking, wrapping, shopping, decorating, and card writing makes even the most energetic wish they had a couple helpful elves this time of year. Be proactive in asking your loved one with cancer if you can help with preparations or take on some of their errands. Consider:

  • Decorating their home
  • Doing their grocery shopping
  • Cooking this year’s holiday meal (remember to keep in mind their dietary restrictions and food preferences when making meals or buying their food).

Spend Time Together

The holidays lend themselves to get-togethers whether they be large family meals, gift exchange parties, or time to catch up over a cup of coffee. “Loneliness contributes to poor mental and physical health, so make a concerted effort to involve the patient in event planning, parties, or quiet time for the two of you to connect,” said Lisa. “Remember to follow their lead regarding level of involvement.”

For the hospitalized or immunocompromised patients, isolation becomes a bigger concern, and COVID adds another layer. Be diligent about hand washing, mask wearing, and physical distancing. If the patient is unable to attend large gatherings:

  • Offer to drive them around to view holiday light displays
  • Use platforms like FaceTime and Zoom to set up virtual gatherings
  • Schedule a regular phone call to check in, which has the added benefit of giving your loved one something to look forward to
  • Invite other family members and friends to reach out with phone calls, text messages, e-mails, and cards or supportive notes.
  • Share virtual support group options for cancer patients, like those offered by Cancer Support Community (https://mycancersupportcommunity.org/programming-options/support-groups/) and Cancer Family Care (https://www.cancerfamilycare.org/our-programs/).

Create a New Tradition

A cancer patient might become saddened if they are physically unable to participate in the holiday activities that they traditionally enjoy. Use this as an opportunity to create a new tradition:

  • If your loved one has always prepared the holiday feast, consider having a potluck or using a caterer
  • Remotely watch holiday movies together
  • Organize these activities virtually- ugly sweater contest, caroling, book club, or holiday story time with the youngest members of the family.

Give Them a Thoughtful Gift

  • Review our recent blog post consisting of a gift giving guide for cancer patients
  • Send your favorite patient a playlist of beloved holiday music or spiritual hymns.

“My OHC colleagues and I are committed to healing patients, and an important component of this process involves addressing quality of life,” said Lisa. “We partner with patient caregivers to do all we can to alleviate patient stress, anxiety, and isolation.” The holidays provide all of us with much needed time to slow down and enjoy quality time with family and friends. For more information on the comprehensive care provided by OHC’s multidisciplinary team of cancer experts or to request a second opinion, call 1-888-649-4800 or visit ohcare.com.

OHC (Oncology Hematology Care) has been fighting cancer on the front lines for more than 35 years. We are the region’s leading experts in the treatment of nearly every form of adult cancer and complex blood disorder. OHC offers the latest medical, gynecologic and radiation therapy, and is always seeking better treatment options through its nationally recognized cancer research and clinical trials program. OHC is the first — and most experienced — independent adult cancer practice in the region to offer the ground-breaking CAR-T therapy for adults. OHC is certified by the American Society of Clinical Oncology in the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative Certification Program and is one of only a select few cancer practices nationally to be accepted to participate in the Oncology Care Model, part of The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation. At its heart, our approach to cancer care is simple — to surround you with everything you need so you can focus on what matters most: beating cancer. For more information about OHC, or a second opinion, call 1-888-649-4800 or visit ohcare.com.

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