Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
About MyMyelomaTeam

How to Enjoy the Holidays Despite Myeloma

Posted on October 24, 2019

Living with multiple myeloma, smoldering myeloma, or a related condition may change your holidays, but you can still have enjoyable and meaningful celebrations. Although myeloma may make some holiday traditions challenging, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy connecting with friends and family during the holiday season. By communicating your limitations due to myeloma, being flexible, and adjusting your expectations, you can help make sure the holidays are happy and memorable.

Communicate Your Needs
Let your loved ones know that connecting with them over the holidays is as important as ever to you, but myeloma treatment is making it hard to plan as usual due to side effects like nausea or fatigue. You may also be immunosuppressed as a result of a stem cell transplant, making large family events during cold and flu season unwise. You need to put your health first or risk developing an infection.

  • Don't be afraid to say no.
  • It can help to use direct "I" statements. For instance, "I am not feeling well enough to host this year" is better than "Having everyone over is just too stressful." Communicating in this way makes your needs clear without making others feel accused or burdensome.
  • Even if you usually maintain healthy boundaries, the holidays are a time when they may be tested. If a friend or family member tries to make you feel guilty for setting your boundaries, gently remind them that myeloma doesn't take the holidays off, as much as you wish it did.

Be Flexible
Instead of saying "no," say "yes" to something else. If a family tradition no longer works for you since you were diagnosed with myeloma, it may be time to suggest an update.

  • If you can't travel as usual, consider offering to host. Ask others to bring potluck dishes and help clean up so you don't wind up overdoing it.
  • If you usually host the gathering but can't do it this year, encourage someone else to host instead. They may be delighted to welcome everyone to their home for a change.
  • If you always bring a beloved dish, pass the treasured recipe on to a loved one like you would a family heirloom, or shine the limelight on another chef in the family and invite them to bring their favorite dish.
  • If you can't bring yourself to give up the party, think of ways to save time and energy. Use paper plates, plastic flatware, and disposable tablecloths for easy cleanup. Make decorating (or de-decorating) part of the event and get everyone to help. Plan a low-impact meal such as a stew that simmers all day in the crock pot with little prep work or tending.

If it's just not possible to get together in one place this year, consider using a video chat service such as Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime to have a special holiday call on a smartphone or laptop. During a video chat, you can:

  • Watch family open gifts
  • Have them show you the decorations around the house
  • Read a holiday story or poem to the children
  • Sing favorite holiday songs together

Adjust Your Expectations
Even without cancer, holidays often come with high expectations that lead to disappointment and stress. Letting go of the illusion of a "perfect" holiday can help you keep expectations realistic and focus on what's most important about the holidays. For many people, that means connecting with loved ones, being thankful for what you have, and finding hope for the new year.

Here are some mindful tips from Johns Hopkins Medicine for adjusting holiday expectations:

  • Accept that your holidays won't be perfect and will be different from celebrations in years past.
  • Focus on what really counts. Find things to be grateful for and look for new ways to connect with loved ones.
  • If you get into a conflict with someone over the holidays, take a few breaths before you react. Try to stay compassionate and react with kindness.
  • As you reflect on last year, be kind to yourself and let go of any negativity. As you look forward to next year, make smaller, gradual resolutions rather than huge goals that will be difficult to achieve.

During the holidays and year-round, the members of MyMyelomaTeam are here for each other. Joining MyMyelomaTeam means gaining a support group of thousands of others with myeloma who understand exactly what you're going through.

Here are some conversations from MyMyelomaTeam members about navigating the holiday season with myeloma:

Have you found ways to celebrate the holidays despite myeloma?
Share in the comments below or post on MyMyelomaTeam.

Recent articles

Scientists don’t yet understand the exact causes of multiple myeloma. However, they have...

Exposure to Radiation and the Risk for Myeloma

Scientists don’t yet understand the exact causes of multiple myeloma. However, they have...
People with multiple myeloma may face myriad challenges, including health care disparities and...

How Would You Use $100,000 To Improve Myeloma Care?

People with multiple myeloma may face myriad challenges, including health care disparities and...
Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects white blood cells, specifically plasma cells....

Rashes and Skin Changes With Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects white blood cells, specifically plasma cells....
Solitary plasmacytoma and multiple myeloma are types of cancer that form from plasma cells....

Solitary Plasmacytoma vs. Myeloma: How Are They Different?

Solitary plasmacytoma and multiple myeloma are types of cancer that form from plasma cells....
For many people diagnosed with multiple myeloma, weight loss was one of the first signs that...

Weight Changes and Myeloma

For many people diagnosed with multiple myeloma, weight loss was one of the first signs that...
Shortness of breath, also called dyspnea, is a common symptom of multiple myeloma, a type of...

Breathing Problems and Multiple Myeloma

Shortness of breath, also called dyspnea, is a common symptom of multiple myeloma, a type of...
People living with multiple myeloma often experience dizziness. For some MyMyelomaTeam members,...

Dizziness and Multiple Myeloma

People living with multiple myeloma often experience dizziness. For some MyMyelomaTeam members,...
Several different risk factors can increase your chance of developing multiple myeloma. One known...

Which Workplace Chemicals Raise the Risk for Myeloma?

Several different risk factors can increase your chance of developing multiple myeloma. One known...
A myeloma diagnosis is a life-changing event that can alter the way you think about your future....

Medical Power of Attorney and Myeloma

A myeloma diagnosis is a life-changing event that can alter the way you think about your future....
Like all cancers, multiple myeloma is caused by genetic mutations that allow cells to divide and...

What Causes Multiple Myeloma?

Like all cancers, multiple myeloma is caused by genetic mutations that allow cells to divide and...
MyMyelomaTeam My myeloma Team

Thank you for signing up.

close