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Important holiday safety advice for cancer patients and families


For many of us, upcoming holidays mean family and friends gathering together and sharing meals in celebration. If someone in your family is undergoing treatment for cancer, keep in mind these few precautions for their continued health and safety.

Chemotherapy can knock out the body’s white blood cell count making it very vulnerable to germs. Normal activity should be analyzed for risk of exposure to germs and to ensure protection against illness and life threatening infection.

As wonderful as it is to see friends and family, greeting with hugs and kisses should be avoided. Consider wearing a mask to prevent the spread of germs. Anyone who is sick with a cold, cough or flu should stay away. Have everyone wash their hands often; keep hand sanitizer close by and readily available.
Disinfect all food preparation surfaces and be sure to prepare all food with clean hands. Produce should be washed thoroughly. Also remember to wash cans with soap and water before opening. Anyone undergoing treatment should avoid food preparation activities such as cutting or peeling. Even a small scratch can be very slow healing and dangerous due to the risk of infection when blood counts are low.

Cook food well and maintain proper temperatures for both hot and cold foods. Refrigerate all perishable food within 2 hours of preparing to prevent bacterial growth. To lower the risk of serving utensils spreading germs, allowing the person receiving treatment to go first and serve themselves Avoid any sharing of plates, utensils and cups.

Make your holiday celebration an uplifting experience for everyone involved, enjoy every minute, make wonderful memories… and be safe!

Sherry Mistro-Henn