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Food, family and gratitude are the staples of an American Thanksgiving. For people dealing with cancer, all three can also be stumbling blocks. Just the smell of certain foods can cause nausea. Gatherings multiply the potential germs they’ll encounter. And thankfulness can be a fleeting emotion.

For those patients who are participating in a Thanksgiving celebration this year, the following tips from Moffitt may help.

  • Don’t take a holiday from basic precautions. Germs won’t – so practice good hand-washing and sanitizing. Pass on any undercooked food items. Keep your distance from anyone sniffling or sneezing. And if you’ve recently had chemo, observe home chemo precautions to protect your loved ones.
  • Be mindful of your health when setting expectations.
    • Fatigue is real, so plan for downtime between activities and don’t take on more than you know you can handle.
    • Realize that your treatment can impact appetite as well as your taste buds. Eat what tastes good to you and pass on the rest.
    • The same is true for your sense of smell. If you’re getting queasy around the Brussel sprouts, try excusing yourself for a breath of fresh air – or to get a head start on loading the dishwasher.
    • Don’t be a slave to fashion. Dress in comfortable layers that will allow you to adjust to your body’s shifting sense of hot and cold.
  • Focus on what you can do. There is more to Thanksgiving than eating, and there’s bound to be a role you can fill. Help set the table or chop ingredients. Choose the music, after-dinner movie or games. Cheer the kids’ touch football from the sidelines. Read to the littlest guests. Wrap yourself up in helping others and you’ll be creating memories for everyone involved – the real gift of Thanksgiving.
  • Give your worries the day off.  Just for today, have that glass or wine or slice of pie. Don’t hesitate to share laughter, hugs and even tears. Remember that continuing to live your life to the fullest is the reason you’re undergoing cancer treatment.