breast cancer, COVID and the holidays

14 Dec 2020

As if we haven’t heard it enough, 2020 is the year that our lives have been upended. All we want is to spend time with our families and friends and go about our daily business of living. And now we’re facing new challenges with the holiday season, colder weather and the spike in COVID cases. We’re all feeling it. But this is the time to remain strong, particularly for our loved ones dealing with a breast cancer or BRCA diagnosis, and ourselves if we’re on that journey.

watch for caution fatigue

Many of us are entering month eight or even nine of social distancing. We’re all tired. We all want to see our loved ones. Now is the time to take renewed interest in our hygiene habits, social distancing and mask wearing. People with breast cancer are at a much higher risk for contracting COVID-19.1 It’s too easy to get complacent, so remind yourself of why we’re doing this: for the health and safety of people we love.

communicate what you need

Be honest with yourself and others about where you are in your breast cancer journey. You may be at a point in your treatment where there isn’t a safe way to see anyone outside your immediate household, and that’s okay. Communicate that to your friends and family. While CDC recommendations say maintaining physical distance is the best way to prevent the spread, if you choose to get together in small groups, don’t be afraid to require people to get tested and quarantine prior to their visit. Don’t let others pressure you or your caregivers into getting into a situation that makes you feel unsafe. This is about your health.

feel the love in new ways

Just because we’re apart doesn’t mean we’ve stopped loving each other. Create a commitment with your friends and family to communicate regularly during the holidays and the colder season. Up the frequency of your calls if you’re no longer able to socially distance outside. Schedule fun activities you can do virtually with each other. Or even reach out to people you haven’t seen in a while. Keep sharing how you’re feeling about your breast cancer journey or how care is going for your loved one. Our bonds can still become even deeper.

reinvent traditions2

Big meals, gatherings, gift exchanges. We rely on so much togetherness to get through the holiday season, but that doesn’t have to change. Get creative with how you safely continue your holiday traditions in a way that feels unique. Maybe you all virtually sit down to dinner together, committing to make the same meal. Maybe it’s a drive-by gift drop-off, or you have a yard decorating contest (think snow people, lights and fun) where you can safely observe what your friends and family have done to make the season festive. It’s up to you.

 

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html#cancer
  2. https://directorsblog.nih.gov/2020/11/12/planning-your-holidays-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

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