Andy Anderson, centre head at Maggie’s Edinburgh, explains how the charity can help at Christmas.
Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be an incredibly challenging time when you are living with or beyond a cancer experience.
Not that this means the festivities need or should be cancelled.
On the contrary, when faced with a diagnosis and an uncertain future, celebrations such as Christmas can become even more important.
It’s not unheard of for people to have their best, if most emotional, Christmas when coping with the life-changing emotions which surround a cancer diagnosis and people can, in some instances, rediscover an appreciation of the simpler things in life, from a hot mince pie to the same old cracker jokes, and the importance of being with people you care about.
However, a cancer diagnosis can also leave people facing tough questions, exhausting treatment and difficult emotions that can range from anxiety to loneliness and isolation.
These challenges affect not only the person with cancer, but their family and friends too.
And at a time such as Christmas, when everyone is supposed to be filled with joy, all these things can feel even harder to bear.
Maggie’s, though, is here to help anyone affected by cancer cope with the full range of emotions they might be feeling on the run up to Christmas.
While we are not open over the holidays, in the lead up to Christmas, our expert staff at Maggie’s Edinburgh can help people find their way through those big questions and emotions while also working out a way to make the holidays, if not joyous, then more bearable.
There’s no need to make an appointment, the centre is open from nine to five Monday to Friday and offers a full evidence-based programme of free practical, emotional and social support.
Emotional support includes one-to-one sessions with cancer support specialists or relaxation classes – both of which could be incredibly useful tools for anyone affected by cancer and struggling to cope with their own thoughts and feelings as Christmas approaches.
Our practical support such as benefits advice and nutrition workshops is designed to alleviate some of the problems which may well be weighing on people’s minds as the holidays draw near.
Money worries, for instance, can dominate people’s thinking when they have been diagnosed with cancer, but our staff can ensure visitors are receiving everything they are entitled to and can also look at what grants might be available from other organisations while nutrition workshops can help ensure holiday eating can be nutritious, tasty and mindful of needs created by treatment or symptoms.
But often at Maggie’s the best support on offer comes from other people experiencing cancer too.
A cup of tea at the kitchen table with people who understand can be all it takes to help someone feel less lonely or isolated.
Or perhaps a quiet half hour in one of the many calm spaces at a Maggie’s Centre, away from home, work and family, is the perfect way to regroup and recharge for whatever the holidays may bring.
Of course, Maggie’s also has an Online Centre which also offers a range of support and is available 24 hours a day, and while it is only staffed between the hours of 9 and 5, social support can always be accessed through blogs and forums.
To find out more about Maggie’s please visit www.maggiescentres.org. To visit Maggie’s Online Centre please visit www.maggiescentres.org/onlinecentre