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Blood cancer at Christmas

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

  • old-woman-at-christmas-848x478

Christmas can be a hard time for people affected by a blood cancer. Christmas is usually a time where people feel joyful, take time out to take some rest, see their loved ones and over-indulge a bit!

For patients and loved ones who have been affected by a blood cancer, it can be hard to get into the Christmas spirit. This may be due to your treatment meaning you can’t or don’t feel like taking part in usual Christmas festivities.

This blog will provide you with some advice for trying to deal with these feelings and help you to try to enjoy your Christmas.

Side effects

It is common for you to feel tired during and after treatment for your blood cancer, as it can negatively affect your body. It’s important that you don’t underestimate the power of tiredness. You may want to be involved in, attend and do everything at Christmas as you may feel you don’t want your blood cancer to stop you and your family from having a good time. But sometimes it isn’t always possible for you to do everything, and that’s okay.

You should try to get involved in everything you want to but do it in small doses and take as many breaks and rests as you need to, your family will understand if you aren’t your usual self.

You should try to accept that these side effects are a part of the getting better process, and although it may mean you may miss out on some Christmas traditions, by taking care, you can still enjoy this time of year.


As a time of year where we spend our time seeing our loved ones, emotions can play a big part in Christmas. For some people, it can be lonely if they don’t have many family members or can’t spend their Christmas with their family.

It’s important to know that whatever you are feeling is completely normal as everyone copes differently. It may be that you feel like you don’t want to get involved in any Christmas activities and wait until you feel better and can enjoy it more.

If you need advice about your emotions, you can download our booklet on the emotional impact of a blood cancer.

The Christmas meal

One thing that you may be worrying about at Christmas is the pressure to over-indulge in food and drink. Although not all, some people find that they experience changes to their appetite, nausea, taste changes and mouth soreness. These side effects may mean you don’t feel like taking part in the Christmas meal.

If you are experiencing these effects, you may not be able to eat as much as you would normally or able to eat the type of foods you did before, but you can still get involved in this part of the day. It may be that you can also ask your medical team to provide you with treatment to manage these side effects to help you through this.

It may help if you let someone else do the cooking, even if you always cook the Christmas meal, as cooking can sometimes increase feelings of sickness. Make sure if you don’t feel up to a large portion you ask for a smaller one and don’t push yourself more than you feel you can manage.

It’s important that you also check with your medical team if you are on treatment before you consume alcohol at Christmas as alcohol can sometimes affect how your treatment may work and there is a possibility that it could cause nausea and sickness.

Staying organised

With all of the cooking, present buying, seeing family and travelling around the festive period, everything can seem a bit overwhelming. Because of this, it is important to plan in advance just in case.

It is important that if you are taking medication or being treated at home over the Christmas period that you ensure you have enough of the medication you need.

It is also good to plan ahead before Christmas day as your specific consultants and medical team may be having time off over the festive period. By contacting your relevant medical team, you can find out who your contact should be in case of an emergency or the event of feeling unwell.

Don’t worry

Being away from your medical team or doctor may be hard as you may need to ask questions, need support or just feel more comfortable with having access to these medical staff regularly.

Even though you may have reduced access to your medical team, you won’t have been forgotten about. Christmas is a time to be relaxed and spend time with your family or maybe just relaxing on your own, taking some time out for your recovery. Although it is easy to talk about it, it is some times difficult to put it into practise, but there is support for you if you feel you need it this Christmas. You can find out about which of our services are available this Christmas here.

We wish you a Merry Christmas from all of us at Leukaemia CARE and a happy, prosperous New Year.  

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