Here we are, smack-dab in the middle of holiday season. While this time of year is generally a busy one for everyone, if you’re undergoing treatment or trying to reduce your risk of breast cancer or a recurrence, you might feel like you’re juggling more than those around you — including what you should or shouldn’t eat, how to schedule treatment around travel plans, tips for managing side effects such as nausea and fatigue, and how to relieve stress and sneak in some “me time.”
Breastcancer.org can help you with these questions and more. Our core content and Ask-the-Expert Conference transcripts offer a wealth of information — here are some links to help you get through the holidays.
How much alcohol is too much?
New research recently came out showing that 3 drinks a week can raise risk of developing breast cancer by 15%. While this new guideline is disappointing for many women, it can be especially hard to follow during the parties and long meals (and stresses) of the holidays.
Learn more about the study and suggestions for how to cut down on the amount you drink.
What should or should you not eat?
Our experts have answered readers’ questions on the best way to enjoy all the foods of the season. Find out what they recommend and how they treat themselves.
“How bad is sugar when you’ve had breast cancer? And how you can avoid it through the holidays?”
“What’s a seemingly indulgent but nutritionally sound buffet menu for a cocktail party? What would YOU serve at such an event?”
“I’m Catholic and we’re doing our traditional Seven Fishes dinner this year for Christmas. With all the mercury issues, is there a safe way to do this or should we alter it somehow?”
Scheduling treatment during the holidays
Whether you’re traveling during the holidays or hosting, breast cancer treatments such as daily radiation appointments or the ups and downs of your chemotherapy cycles can throw a wrench in your plans. Our Fitting Treatment into Your Schedule page has information and tips on talking to your doctors about adjusting your treatment schedule.
Managing side effects
Side effects from breast cancer treatment are common, but there are ways to manage them — which can be especially important at a busy, food-centered time of year. Find out how to manage everything from changes in your appetite, nausea, and diarrhea to fatigue and mood swings in Treatment Side Effects.
Anyone who has had lymph nodes removed during surgery is at risk of developing lymphedema and/or serious infections in the affected body part. Lymphedema is the swelling of the soft tissues caused by the build-up of lymph fluid. Physical activities such as shoveling snow or carrying heavy shopping bags could potentially trigger lymphedema; cuts or burns in the kitchen and dry and cracked winter skin could lead to infection. Learn about how to avoid and manage lymphedema, and read the account of a skin infection from one of our bloggers so you know what the signs are.
Our experts have answered these questions about side effects and more:
“I am constantly getting hot flashes from the tamoxifen!! I don’t want to embarrass myself at a party. Are there foods I should steer clear of so my hot flashes won’t get triggered?”
“Chemo has altered my taste buds. Have you heard from others about what kinds of foods taste better to them when this happens? Or is it individual to the person?”
“Chemo has been giving me diarrhea. Are there any foods I should avoid at parties to prevent an episode of diarrhea?”
Complementary medicine techniques such as journaling, meditation, yoga, and aromatherapy can be used to ease side effects and improve quality of life — they can also help you relax and relieve stress! Check out our list of which therapies work for which symptom in the Complementary & Holistic Medicine section to learn how to integrate these techniques into your routine.
The Breastcancer.org Discussion Boards is a good place to talk with others in a similar situation.
Dr. Marisa Weiss recently shared her ideas for ways to unwind (since she no longer drinks her evening glass of wine). Did she cover your favorite stress-reliever?
We wish you a joyful season, no matter what or how you celebrate. If you have tips for managing the holidays during breast cancer treatment and beyond, please share them in the comments!