Shay Moraga is a triple negative breast cancer survivor and shares her journey with Desert Health® readers in an ongoing column…

It is the most wonderful time of year. Festive tunes on the radio, everyone you meet seems excited about upcoming vacations and family coming into town to celebrate the holidays.

However, to a cancer patient, this time of year may seem overwhelming. While some people may want to put up all the usual holiday décor, those going through treatment may just want to keep things low-key and celebrations to a minimum.

So how do you know what your loved one needs? Just ask. They will be able to tell you if it’s going to be too much to host the whole family this year. They may want to do it simply to keep their mind off their cancer, but they will need some help. Listen to their needs; ask questions. They will tell you what is best for them.

Have a “no pressure” holiday. This year make it a priority to ensure your loved one has no stress or pressure to feel like they must be this year’s host. Like yoga, help them find the balance of celebrating family and fun events while healing from their treatments. Offer to take on simple tasks by helping them decorate, grocery shop, buy holiday presents and more. Suggest helping them around the house or offering to help hire a temporary cleaning service during such a busy time of year. Plan a baking party with family and friends in advance. That way, it is a special day building memories and helps reduce the stress of doing it alone which makes it more enjoyable.

Suggest a pot luck holiday and have family and friends bring a dish of their favorite family tradition. These can also be great conversation starters around the dinner table. Plan special outings around doctors’ visits and lay low after treatments. Talk to your medical team if you are planning any long trips so that you can enjoy your time with family.

Let this year be carefree and filled with new traditions of spending time the old fashioned way – sharing stories of younger years, watching old home movies, looking through old family photo albums, or playing board games to connect with one another. Put away the electronics. Your home will be filled with love and laughter one normally feels, while relieving stress and anxiety. It will also take your loved one’s mind off the word “cancer” giving them time to breathe.

Like I say in yoga, “Breathe in the love and exhale anything that does not serve you.” You will be glad you did.

Editor’s note: More for those with cancer from CancerPartners here.

Read all of Shay’s stories here.

Shay Moraga is an E-RYT500 yoga instructor and triple negative breast cancer survivor. She teaches weekly classes entitled Yoga for Cancer Caretakers and Survivors and can be reached at [email protected] or (760) 895.1705.

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