Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cancer and the Holidays. . . How Do You Deal??

The holidays are always a crazy time of year and sometimes they can bring out the worst in people.  That was true for those around me.  So when I was going through my chemo treatments back in 2001 I wondered how I would handle holiday craziness while I felt exhausted, sick, and depressed.  I was not looking forward to Thanksgiving meal not even the stuffing which was always my favorite.  Nothing tasted good to me because of chemo.  I seriously considered grilled cheese for dinner as it was the only thing I enjoyed eating that didn't really taste like metal.  

What was harder to figure out though was how I would handle my family and put myself first.  Putting myself ahead of others was not something that came easily to me.  But cancer certainly gave me the ability to see things more clearly.  I had to figure out a game plan that would allow me to get through the holiday with as little stress as possible.  I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to do.  How did I want to spend the day.  And what I came up with was not as appealing to my mom as it was to me.  I wanted to make a lasagna and eat it with my brother and his girlfriend at my place.  Not everyone in my family got along but I knew the 3 of us would.  I promised my mom that we would all go to her house for dessert.  She reluctantly agreed.  It was alot of work to cook but I was pleased that I could do what I wanted for once in my life.  I didn't eat much but I enjoyed the quiet dinner with my brother and his girlfriend.  After the meal we headed over to see my mom and grandma for dessert and it was short and comfortable. 

I got through the day with minimal craziness and was proud of myself for expressing my needs to those around me.   It was not easy however the benefits far outweighed the risks so to speak.  Going through cancer treatment is so very difficult and it changes you.  The experience also can change those around you good or bad.  I think it is important to draw boundaries at times like these and make your needs known.  Think about what you want.  Think about what would make you happy for the holiday.  And try your hardest to make that happen.  Drawing those boundaries is important and doesn't have to be reserved for the holidays although for me it is when those around me are all caught up in the craziness.  It is what I try to arm myself with in order to not loose myself.  I tried to focus on what I was thankful for that day.  And that was feeling thankful for still being alive.

How do you handle the holidays?  If you are currently going through treatment have you had to be more expressive with your needs especially during the holidays?  How have those around you responded?  Has having cancer made you say or do things that you normally would not?

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