The holiday season is quickly approaching and the stress of the holidays can bring up mixed feelings for many people. When you are struggling with a cancer diagnosis such as GIST, the holidays can be an extra challenging time of year. For newly diagnosed GISTers and their families, this may be their first year celebrating the holidays. Long-term survivors and their caregivers may have created a routine that works best for them during this season. Of course, there are patients and caregivers who fall somewhere in the middle and are still learning to adjust to their diagnosis during this time.
We all have expectations of what our holidays should look like and often feel a sense of failure when it does not pan out the way we envisioned. It is always okay to express your concerns and needs during the holiday season as well as set boundaries with others.
It is important to keep in mind that while people may be supportive, not everyone is good at providing the same type of support.
One of the ways to remember the different types of support a person can offer is with the acronym FDR – Feelings, Doers, and Respite. Some of the people in your ‘support circle’ may be good at dealing with feelings and emotions. They may be able to provide you a listening ear or a shoulder on which to cry. Those who are doers may not deal with emotions well and are best at helping you out with daily activities and chores that need to get done. And lastly, respite. These are the people in your life who are good at distracting you during a difficult time and can help take your mind off things. Identifying these different kinds of people in your life can be helpful in managing your own expectations.
Here are some thoughts and comments from GISTers and caregivers about their concerns and challenges during the holiday season and how they have learned to navigate the holidays: