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A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event. Many people experience feelings that things will never be the same again, or see their lives split into two periods: “before diagnosis” and “after diagnosis.” While the holidays may not feel the same after receiving a diagnosis of cancer, they are still worth celebrating. The holidays can still be filled with joy and opportunities to make cherished memories, appreciate what we have, and find surprising moments of hope and inspiration.
It is okay, normal, and even healthy to mourn the loss of how the holidays were before a diagnosis. Remember that family and friends may be mourning that loss too, in their own ways. Be extra kind to yourself, and to each other, during this time. The holidays are a time when emotions, and stress, run high.
It will take some time, but if you celebrate the holidays in a way that is best for you, it will begin to feel more natural than putting pressure on yourself to pretend things haven’t changed at all. This is called finding “a new normal.” Celebrating the holidays in a different way doesn’t mean that the holidays have to be unhappy. You may need to make adjustments, especially if you are not feeling well. You may feel like you aren’t celebrating the holidays in a “normal” way, but when you think about it, there are many families who don’t fit the stereotypical version of “normal.”
Be honest with yourself, and with your loved ones, about how you are feeling, your energy levels, your appetite, and your need to care for yourself. The holidays should be joyful. Don’t put unnecessary expectations or strain on yourself.
Remember, the holidays were never originally about spending a lot of money and finding the perfect presents for everyone, cooking a huge meal, or decorating the whole house, but a time of reflection and gratitude. Think about how far you have come already on your journey, and take some time to remember what you have gained, not just what you have lost. Although no one ever wishes for a diagnosis of cancer, it is okay to be grateful for the new friendships, new wisdom or perspective, and the strengthening support of friends, loved ones, coworkers, or neighbors.
For more support and tips for celebrating the holidays after receiving a cancer diagnosis, please seehere.
Community Cancer Center in Normal, Illinois, is a joint vision of OSF Healthcare and Advocate Bromenn that is the cancer center of choice for Central Illinois. Featuring state-of-the-art technology and an excellence in care, Community Cancer Center also has an extensive resource center, patient support groups, nutrition and spiritual counseling, social work services, and more. For more information, please visit our website, or call (309) 451-8500.
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