This time of year that is filled with so much joy for so many of our neighbors, family and friends can be especially hard on cancer victims and survivors. It seems that anxieties about the future are intensified with holidays. I bet all cancer victims, like me, ask themselves throughout the year, “is this my last 4th of July, anniversary or birthday?” Somehow Christmas with all of its wrapping and bows and merriment intensifies that sensation.
I must confess that the joy of being with family and friends has sometimes been overshadowed with a sense of anxiety and loss of a safe and secure future. I hate cancer and loss. I hate the loss of physical and mental control that a cancer diagnosis brings. While, I may not be able to control my physical health, I can do a lot to control my mental health.
First of all, from a practical standpoint, I take an anti anxiety drug. Cancer patients have enough to deal with and suffer through without the additional anxiety attacks and depression that go hand in hand with treatment. I strongly encourage all cancer patients to talk to their doctors about their mental health.
That being said I take comfort in the fact that I am really no different than anyone else this Christmas or any other day. No one has any guarantees of another day or holiday. Other people just have the comfort of thinking about this reality less than cancer patients. Cancer is a great motivator to end procrastination and apathy. It reminds us daily that no matter what your life circumstances make every day count!
I think that cancer has blessed me in ways that those who have never faced a life threatening diagnosis can not imagine. I know that each day is a gift and every love in my life is precious. I no longer have the luxury of taking anything or anyone for granted. Of course with cancer there are those moments of sheer terror; however, I find that there are more instances of a childlike magic in the simple things of life such as the beauty of a cardinal at a snow capped bird feeder, the laughter of children in the mall, the enjoyment of a really good meal and the comfort of a hug from a loved one. It was cancer that taught me to really enjoy and appreciate my life. For that I am grateful.
This Christmas I am asking Santa to fill my stocking up with hope. Cancer is a disease of hope. As cancer patients we have more hope for cures and treatments than any generation in the past. Scientific discoveries are announced almost weekly giving hope for future treatments that are more effective with less side effects. Our participation in clinical trials will give hope to future cancer victims. Yes, there really is hope for a cure for this disease.
It is quite right that I should be thinking about hope this Christmas Eve. Christmas after all is the holiday of hope. Hope in the promise of God through the birth of his only son that we will never die, but have eternal life with him in a heaven that is beautiful, filled with light and color, peace, love and where there is no more pain, suffering or sorrow. I do believe that my last breath on this earth will be my first breath in heaven.
I send hugs and love to all of the members of my cancer family and their loved ones. I know that in those dark times when I didn’t see God, he always saw me and he sees you too. He hangs on to us and will never leave us. His daily presence brings peace and strength. My gift to you this Christmas is hope. May the hope in the salvation through Jesus Christ bring you strength, courage, peace and faith this holiday season. May the peace that passes all understanding be yours!
Love your cancer sister,
Now for some pictures of hope, what a difference a year can make!
Last year, after my stem cell transplant for Multiple Myeloma, with my World War II buddy El. He insisted we have our picture taken together, as we had the same hair do.
Me, today! Merry Christmas!