Christmas With Cancer – Can It Still Be Jolly?

Christmas is coming!  With exactly 2 weeks to Christmas, you might be struggling to decide what is the best gift to give to somebody who will spend their Christmas with cancer.

Christmas is supposed to be a joyous occasion with family, friends, and loved ones.  But for those diagnosed with cancer, can it still be a joyous occasion?

Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh

It is stated that at the birth of Jesus, three wise men came bearing gifts, namely gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Many people consider the ‘gold’ as a reference to turmeric, a potent healing herb with a vibrant gold colour, but for the remaining two gifts, the reference is clear.  Why these three items?  Could it be because of the amazing healing properties?

Take a look at the video below; Truth About Cancer founder Ty M. Bollinger discusses the health benefits of these ‘miraculous spices’ with Dr Sunil Pai, M.D.

An Emotional Time Of Year

I don’t know about you, but I have always found Christmas to be an emotional occasion, (I wasn’t always a Muslim); whether it be based on your faith, remembrance of loved ones, or the feeling that for at least one day in the year, there is actually ‘peace on earth‘.  But for cancer patients, it’s a different story; it is not only their physical health that is affected but also their mental well-being. Being diagnosed with cancer can have a tremendous affect on their emotional state and those around them; these feelings and emotions are without doubt intensified during this ‘joyous’ time of year.

The fear of death, fear of the unknown, knowing the suffering associated with cancer, the feeling that you’re alone; these can all lead to feelings of anxiety, anger, sadness, even depression. For those close to a cancer patient, the feeling that they may lose a loved one can create an enormous emotional stress.  All of these feelings and emotions are normal and expected, but the key is to manage those emotions and feelings and most of all to generate hope.

The Importance of Hope

I firmly believe that a positive psychological state of a cancer patient can have a positive impact on their battle with cancer, and without getting all evangelical about it, I consider that my faith played a part in my healing.  What is certain, is that negative thoughts and stress do nothing to help; there are a multitude of studies on this subject.

Hope is a very positive emotional state and in this day and age, with the ongoing research to understand cancer, the amount of publicly available information regarding holistic therapies, and the numerous testimonials from survivors who have gone through both conventional and alternative approaches, all give reason to hope.

And it is for this aspect of a cancer patient’s life I’d like to share with you some of what I consider to be the best Christmas gifts for giving hope and boosting the spirit.  I’ve tried to select the best ideas that are appropriate, practical, and may even help to relieve the condition of the patient.

Suggested Books

Reading about people who are leading active lives despite their cancer are always inspirational.  Survival stories, practical living tips, motivational ideas, all help to increase hope and develop a positive mind set

Everything Changes, is targeted at younger adults in their 20’s to 30’s; it reveals the stories of 25 strangers and their experiences in fighting cancer.   Kairol Rosenthal has a unique writing style and addresses the soul-searching questions and concerns that a young adult cancer patient may have. By revealing the highs and lows of each person’s experience, this book provides useful ‘how to’ resources, information, and expert advice, in a powerful and compelling narrative.  Everything Changes will open a patient’s eyes and heart, giving knowledge and comfort with the realisation that they are not alone and there are many others on similar journeys that have survived.

Cancer: 50 Essential Things to Do: 2013 Edition was first published in 1999: now into its 4th Edition, it addresses new research and includes a section to discuss and plan a holistic approach to fighting and treating cancer.

This book provides a wealth of knowledge lots of simple common sense things that can help. Recognising that healing is a lot more than just treatments and surgery, there are lots of mind and body attitudes that can make a huge difference between living a quality life or feeling hopeless and powerless. By providing a guide to cancer recovery, this book offers an inspiring, action-oriented roadmap for those who choose to take charge of their diagnosis. The author has also written “Breast Cancer: 50 Essential Things to Do” in which the information is pretty much the same.

The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, Second Edition: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery is an award-winning cookbook with science-backed recipes designed to give patients the much needed nutrition that they need to boost their immune system. The recipes help to stimulate the appetite and help to alleviate some of the side effects of cancer and its treatment.

Not just for people fighting cancer, this book provides phenomenal flavours to keep the body healthy. Some 150 recipes (not all of which need to done with a stove), cover soups, vegetable dishes, proteins, and sweet/savoury snacks all with the intention to deliver the vital nutrient, minerals, and phytochemical required for all phases of treatment.

Essential Oils for Cancer Therapy

Increasing research suggests that Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils can be effective in preventing cancer and also helping to fight cancer and its side effects.  While much of the research has only been conducted in laboratory conditions, and further research is required to determine the true effect on live humans, it is not a reason to totally dismiss the potential health benefits.

Turmeric Essential Oil is antiallergic, antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, antiviral, and antiworm. It is also used to relieve anxiety and stress.  Research at Kyoto University in Japan has found that the key components of turmeric, curcumin and turmerone, abolished colon cancer cells in mice when applied by mouth.

Frankincense Essential Oil
is made from the resin or sap from different types of Boswellia trees found in Asia and the Middle East. It has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese traditional medicines for centuries to treat a number of ailments, including cancer.  Recent research is beginning to support its use as an anticancer agent both in human bladder cancer cells and human pancreatic tumours; in both cases, the essential oil appeared to cause substantial levels of cancer cell death.

Frankincense essential oil can also help to alleviate the side effects of conventional treatments, such as swelling in the head (cerebral edema), stress and anxiety, and boosting the immune system.

Myrrh Essential Oilsare botanically related to Frankincense; the sap or resin comes from a tree found in Africa and again in the Middle East. The tree is called Commiphora myrrha, common in Africa or the Middle East.

As with other essential oils, it has become the subject of research into its curative properties and more interestingly its potential to heal cancer, which is purported to be more effective than Frankincense.

There are many essential oils available, all with beneficial, therapeutic, and medicinal properties.  These include lavender, clary sage, lemongrass, tea tree, peppermint, spearmint, thyme, rosemary, oregano, chamomile, bergamot, and more; a Google search will reveal numerous research papers reflecting the potential benefits against cancer and other ailments.

Novelty Gift Ideas

If you’re still stuck for ideas, you could consider simple novelty gifts such as mugs, clothing or bracelets and the like.  These are readily available and are ideal for promoting awareness, celebrating life as a survivor, or simply making a defiant stand against cancer.

The Best Things in Life Are Free

At the end of the day, the most important gift than can be given is social support.  Your love, empathy, and time can play a powerful part in boosting hope and providing relief from the torments that a cancer patient suffers.  Spend time watching a fun movie together, give a massage, go for walks, or just enjoy each others company.

‘Tis the season to be jolly’… even if you can’t find it within yourself to be jolly, at least remain hopeful and give hope to those who will spend their Christmas with cancer.

I wish you all Seasons Greetings and pray for the best for you on your journey.  Don’t forget to drop me an email or leave comments or questions below if you want to know more.  Feel free to suggest other gifts that you think are suitable for cancer patients or cancer survivors.


18 thoughts on “Christmas With Cancer – Can It Still Be Jolly?”

  1. Great article. My mother spent the last seven Christmas seasons of her life wondering if this was her “last Christmas”. She actually had given away quite a few of her Christmas decorations to grandchildren three years prior to her passing.

    However, her positive attitude in her life with cancer afforded her many more years and she was able to extend her life by seven and a half years past her first diagnosis of cancer. It’s a testimony to just how successful a positive mindset while one has cancer.

    Thanks for your focus on this important subject and helping those with cancer to live a happier life and a more joyful Christmas season.

    1. Sorry to hear about your mother… it’s heart wrenching. My mother and both grandfathers suffered and died with cancer. My mother amazingly kept it a secret for many years, how she managed leaves me in awe. I hope that your future Christmas’ are not too painful, memories can be bitter sweet. Take care.

  2. Hi Abdusalam
    It is amazing what power words can have. Though you have written an article about some really awesome gift ideas for one who is suffering from cancer, your words had a second purpose of giving me hope.

    Though I am not a cancer sufferer, someone very close to me is. You hit the nail on the head when you say, that this time of it can bring to surface other emotions of ‘anger, anxiety and depression.’ Especially when you do not know when that special person is going to take his or her last breath.

    These ideas offered me hope and I am excited about sharing and possibly getting one or more of these items for my special friend.

    I am very certain that it will make things lighter and allow us to make the best of the time that we have.

    All the best to you too.


    1. I’m so happy that you feel inspired.  Although I’ve been Muslim for some 30 years now, Christmas still ‘hurts’ when I think about my relatives that succumbed to cancer at what we now consider a young age.  At that time we didn’t have all the knowledge that we have now and watching them suffering gave a general feeling of hopelessness.  For the patient and loved ones hope and comfort are the most essential things during this testing time.  I hope all goes well for your loved one and I pray for his/her recovery.

  3. When I was fourteen, I saw my Mom pass away from Cancer. I did not know it at the time, but the Christmas before would be the last one I would spend with her. Your suggestions would have meant the world to me at the time.

    Aside from that though, I have a question. Because of my Mom, my Dad is alone now. He is a widower. What do you think a great Christmas gift for him would be that also honors my Mom? Thank you so much for this article and I hope you have a wonderful day!

    1. First off let me say I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your mother.  Having lost my own, I know how you feel, and it still pains me even after 30+ years, love ’em or hate ’em, there’s something special about mothers.

      A gift for your father? Wow! That’s a tough one… Did they have any special place they would go for holiday? Maybe you could take him on a trip to visit that place.  Maybe your mother had a favourite plant that you could put in the garden or house for your father to take care of.  Perhaps he has a favourite photo that you could frame or have painted as a portrait of them both.

      If you feel it’s better to ease the painful memory, introduce him to a new hobby or interest that could occupy his alone time, take him to visit his friends, days out, anything that can help take his mind off things.

      Without knowing your father, it’s hard to say, but one thing for sure, time with you and the family would go along way to easing the loss.

      I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.  Let me know how it goes, I’d be interested to know what you decided to go with. 

  4. This is such a wonderful post.

    I remember the struggles my aunt (who had breast cancer) used to have when this time of year came around. It puts strain on the whole family because relatives of a cancer patient don’t really know exactly how to act around the person at times like Christmas.

    I think it is so important to try stay positive in such times and try make a cancer sufferer feel normal at Christmas time.

    1. I’m glad you liked the post and I hope you found it helpful.  I think at ANY time of the year it’s difficult to know what to say or what to do and this is obviously heightened on special occasions. There are feelings of guilt since people want to celebrate but at the same time are aware of the sensitivity of the one suffering from cancer.  There maybe feelings of resentment on the part of the cancer sufferer if they sense that everyone around them is being happy; it’s a difficult balance without a doubt.

      But as you say, it is important to include the sufferer in the celebrations and help them feel as normal as possible, give them hope, give them and everyone around treasured memories.

  5. This article is very resourceful. It is like an all in one pack addressing the body and soul. I have seen quite a few friends come under the attack of this dreaded disease and it’s terrible to see how they can deteriorate in health at a tremendous speed. I have since loved the unconventional methods of treating it. I know Big Pharma is fighting against that natural therapy but they cannot succeed in as much as people like you with the personal experience are willing to speak up. Please continue to bring this to light. It is the way to go.

    1. Hi Gifty, thanks for the positive remarks. I try to be balanced. It would be easy to simply promote the whole conspiracy thing, but I think most people are aware of what’s going on. My intent is to share the information and at least give something for people to think about when considering their options. My personal preference was the natural path, and it still is in terms of prevention. The important thing is not to let those who are currently suffering feel alienated or alone, to boost them up both mentally and spiritually, to help them maintain hope.

      For the coming christmas, I wish you Seasons’ Greetings, have a good one 🙂

  6. What a wonderful post you have shared and the perfect time to do so. My father kept his cancer a secret and I understand his reasoning. He had chosen to go his way and not fight with drugs. I love him and appreciate that about him. Too often, perhaps the patient is doing what others think is the right thing to do and not what their choice would be.
    I know that sounds a little 🙁 but you know, I believe there should be dignity and peace in death if that is possible) On the other side of the coin, the fight and the positive attitude I do believe is as you have said and can have such a wonderful outcome.
    I am such an emotional sod at Xmas and I cry at commercials on T.V. What keeps me in a positive state is remembering all the people who are far worse off than myself and helping where I can to brighten someone’s Xmas.
    Loved your article and look forward to more. I think what you have shared relates to more than just cancer patients.

    1. You’re not the only ’emotional sod’ at Xmas I am sure 🙂
      I’ve cried at movies but adverts is going a bit far… just kidding.

      I have to admire those that choose to retain their dignity and I don’t think it detracts from maintaining a positive stand and fighting the cancer. To try and live as normal a life as possible is a credit to those who are not going to ‘let the bastard grind them down’.

      Seasons Greetings to you and always try to bring happiness to others, especially at this time of year.

  7. Love, empathy and time can cure a lot. Its the one thing seems so hard to find these days but is a cure all for conditions like depression. Unfortunately in this society medication is the cure all which is a bandaid for a deeper problem. Cancer is one of those ailments that can really take a life of its own and can be aggressive. I like the essential oils. I think they have some great healing qualities and believe aroma therapy can help heal the mind and body. Great post!

    1. You are absolutely right David.
      There is an over tendency for doctors to look for the quick fix ‘band-aid’, one size fits all, and it’s unfortunate really. I can’t blame them really, well not all of them. At the end of the day they went to college, got there medical degree, and then went into practice. But like anything, a degree is just the start of acquiring knowledge; doctors cannot know everything and definitely they don’t have the relationship with the patient to provide the emotional support that is truly required.

      I just wish the medical profession would be more open to considering the alternative options.

  8. Hi Abdusalam, it is timely article for the gift season. I have several friends who are fighting against cancers right now. You bring me some nice gift idea. You are right that one of the most important thing for anyone, but particularly for cancer patients, is hope. There are a lot of fears, fear of death, fear of unknown, and fear of alone, leading to anxiety, anger, sadness, and depression. We need to bring hope to all, particularly cancer patients, in the season of celebration. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Hi Anthony. Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comments. Choosing gifts for cancer patients is difficult at any time of the year, let alone Xmas or other special occasions. I’m happy that you found this post useful for getting some gift ideas.

      As I said though, the best gifts are free, costing only your time. Emotional and social support is essential to help the sufferer overcome the psychological trauma.

      Again, thanks for your comments.
      Seasons Greetings to you and your loved ones.


  9. I have not lost an immediate family member due to cancer, but sure have seen many people in my surrounding area decease due to cancer and it always crosses my heart when I hear about people having cancer. One of my uncles was diagnosed with brain cancer only a few months ago and his state of well being is quickly going down. And it is saddening to see, but there is hope, and if not earthly, but heavenly.

    However, I have seen what you mention in your article. There is hope even in the midst of the darkest storm. I am a Christian and believe that you can set your thoughts on higher grounds and let the warmth and peacefulness of the season come over you and bless you.

    Even though we are not all battling cancer, we all have our daily battles and they want to take away the spirit of Christmas and make us unhappy. However, the way we look at things is what makes them different. Someone once said that life is 10% what happens and 90% how we see it. There is so much truth in that saying.

    I wish all people that are battling cancer in this Christmas season peace of mind and heart and their loved ones lots of love and patience to carry on. It is not an easy journey, but be delighted in what the season brings to you.

    Season greetings,

    1. Hi Oscar,

      Sorry to hear about your uncle; there is still hope though. There are many testimonials and success stories of people recovering from brain cancer. I like the point you make about life being 90% attitude and how we view the challenges that come to us or our loved ones. For those who are currently suffering from this dreadful disease, I believe it is our responsibility to help them bear the burden and to be supportive in any way we can.

      I hope that your uncle recovers and I wish you and yours all the best.

      Seasons Greetings back at ya 🙂


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