Tips and Stories

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Navigating Christmas, Holidays and cancer


It’s the most… complicated time… of the year.

The Holidays can be a lovely season of joy, gifts, delicious food, hopefully a break from school, study or work, and a good excuse to catch up with people you care about.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year, other celebrations or not – there may still be more expectations, more pressure, perhaps more memories around too. There are more emails in your inbox, social media is buzzy, there’s no parking at the shopping centre, and all those questions about your plans… here at Connect, we know the Holidays can be a tough time.

Maybe old traditions have had to change, or it’s the first year since diagnosis, or you’re spending time with your loved ones in hospital. Cancer doesn’t take a holiday… and so trying to find a way to adapt to the ‘new normal’ over the Holidays can take a lot of energy. If that’s you, be sure you lean-in to your support networks – friends, family, even pets – asking for help or some company can make hard moments a little more bearable (even if it feels awkward at first). We'd encourage you to take the best, gentle care of yourself possible.

Listen to some of our youth leaders share their self-care tips for the mind:

Other tips that we have heard over the years include…

  • *You can say no to activities that you might regularly do at this time of year, or choose to do them differently – chat with those you care about, and figure out what makes sense this year, for you.
  • *Start a new tradition – is there something meaningful you can do, that feels like a good way to end the year? Maybe a trip to the zoo, helping at an event, or having a self-care day?
  • *Write yourself a letter of support – what kind words do you have for yourself (the way that you would have kind words for a friend), that might be helpful for you to read on December 25 or January 1?
  • *Getting outside for a walk, cycle, sitting somewhere sunny can change your perspective for a moment; as well as eating food that nourishes you.
  • *Let someone know that it’s tough, and chat about how you can support each other (texts, GIFs, funny videos, the ability to call and express how you feel) – if you’re not sure who you can share some of this stuff with, you can chat with us on here, or find some other wonderful services.

Hear direct from some of our community members who might have experienced this before and have the chance to share what helps you by joining our live discussion on Christmas now.

And for some of our community here, it’s also a time where there might be bittersweet reminders of those who aren’t there with you. Finding a way to remember and honour your loved ones who have died can be a way to connect with them, and in a way continue your relationship with them. Perhaps sharing their favourite meal, swapping memories at the dinner table or even something as simple as lighting a candle.

For more ideas, this article shares a few ways to remember loved ones during the Holidays. Or, if you're supporting someone who’s loved one has died, here are some tips to help you spot the moments when you might be able to help:

Most importantly – be kind to yourself through it all. And don't forget, the Canteen Connect community are here and already have a discussion going on this topic.

By Cara D, Counsellor, Canteen Australia

Holiday hours

We understand that cancer doesn't stop over the festive season, so we'll be online to listen and chat with the exception of public holidays. Below are our holiday operating hours (all AEST), and we'll be returning to usual hours again on Tuesday 2 January 2024.

  • Saturday 23 December 11am-5pm
  • Wednesday 27 December 11am-5pm
  • Thursday 28 December 11am-5pm
  • Friday 29 December 11am-5pm
  • Saturday 30 December 11am-5pm