Home for the Holidays After a Cancer Diagnosis

In Breast Cancer, Creating Happiness, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

For so many reasons, the Christmas holiday season can be the hardest time of the year, especially once you find yourself and/or others with whom you celebrate living in the world of cancer. And it may even be harder if a loved one may be absent from the picture for any one of so many reasons which can make us feel really sad. For others, the idea of “going home” for the holidays brings back memories of fighting and arguing and some of the saddest times in their lives. Or going home and being with the family may not be feasible because one can’t afford the price of a ticket to travel or they may not be able to get the time off work or they may have to spend the time with a spouse’s family rather than their own. Or you may be too sick to travel or prefer not to been seen by others if you are dealing with the treatments for cancer. So what is one suppose to do?

The most important thing to remember is that Christmas is not “about a present” but “who is present” so I hope that will help you to make the choice of what, or who, is best for you during this holiday season.Barbara Jacoby

Well, for the holidays, I used to travel home every year to spend the time with my family. But, after my parents died, I did spend a couple of years at my sister’s home but then it became too difficult to join her and her family for Christmas. But, in doing so, I missed a lot of the traditions that we used to have and observe but it was okay because I was spending the time with my husband. But as the years passed, I decided to start bringing back some of the old traditions as well as starting some new ones in our home.

For example, since we live in such a warm climate, it really isn’t a good idea to have a live tree because they dry out so quickly even if watered daily, as directed. Therefore, we invested in an artificial one and that became the centerpiece for a whole new tradition. Now the tree goes up the day before Thanksgiving and gets decorated with the host of very special ornaments that I have collected over the years and we have the “official” tree lighting on Thanksgiving night after dinner is over to begin the holiday season. And that way, all of the hard work and beauty of the tree can be enjoyed for a few weeks rather than days.

My point is that the holidays are what we make of them. For some, the holidays are changed forever because of cancer. It may be a new diagnosis or another holiday with advanced cancer. But, regardless of the situation, it is up to us personally to choose how to deal with the holidays. It has been my choice to enjoy them and appreciate that I am here to enjoy them. Maybe I can’t keep up with every past tradition but with some of them I can. And most importantly, I can create new ones, ones that will work perfectly for me and any circumstances in which I find myself.

It isn’t necessary to go anywhere that you don’t want to go and you don’t have to participate in any events If you choose not to do so. If you want to relax at home on Christmas Eve and share a meal with just one special person, no amount of “guilting” should be allowed to interfere. If you want to get up on Christmas morning and open a present – or all of them – before you go to visit with family then that is what you should do. If you don’t feel like baking the usual Christmas cookies, someone else can do that or you can buy them.

There is no one else who should decide what you should do or where you should go. You may find that this is the perfect time for a quick getaway for some relaxation after all the hustle and bustle of the season. But most of all, it’s the true meaning of Christmas that might just help you to decide how to best enjoy your holidays and where to spend them. The most important thing to remember is that Christmas is not “about a present” but “who is present” so I hope that will help you to make the choice of what, or who, is best for you during this holiday season.