The Holiday season, parenting, and cancer


Hello, my name is Brie and I’m one of the online counsellors here at Canteen.

As the festive season approaches and the end of 2023, a common theme that pops up with anyone impacted by cancer is usually around the concept of coping during the Christmas and holiday period, and ways to manage this when cancer comes crashing into your life.

The Christmas Holidays can be a wonderful time to connect with family and friends, eating lots of delicious food and gift giving. However, as we know, cancer doesn’t discriminate or take a break over the Holidays, so perhaps old traditions have had to be replaced with spending Christmas in hospital, or even being in the depths of treatment. Whatever part of the cancer journey you’re on, you are adapting to the ‘new normal’ over the Holidays which can take a lot of mental and emotional energy as you adjust. If this sounds like you, be sure to reach out to loved ones or other support options (family, friends or even pets!) during this time. It may make those moments that feel unbearable a little bit more bearable.

For others in our community, this time of the year may also be a bittersweet reminder for those that are no longer with you. This can feel even more difficult when those around us are swept up in the joy of what the holiday time represents. The Grief Space offer some useful tips on how to look after yourself during this season, some of which include:

  • It's okay to not feel festive
  • You are not obligated to people-please at the expense of your own well-being
  • Your boundaries still matter! Even during the Holidays
  • Let people know what you can and can't manage
  • It's okay to rest or escape when you're feeling overwhelmed
  • You don't have to do anything festive if you don't want to
  • Grief can still be there alongside happiness, it's okay to have moments of laughter. It doesn't mean you miss them any less
  • There are no rules, do what you need to do to be okay and get through these strange times

Finding a way to remember your loved ones who have died can be a way to connect with them, and even be seen as a way to continue your relationship with them. This could be by sharing memories of them with other loved ones, cooking their favourite Christmas meal or even lighting a candle in their honour.

The most important thing is that you look after and be kind to yourself during it all!

And don't forget, this is a community and you are probably not alone in how you're feeling, so join our discussion and share or see what top tips other members who might have experienced this before are sharing.

By Brie, Counsellor, Canteen Australia

Holiday hours

We'll be here regular hours up until Saturday 23rd December; and during the week of Christmas, we're 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
No new announcement