Breast Cancer Christmas
are snuggled upstairs in their beds, not a creature is stirring... you
recognize the scene - the sweet peace of Christmas. There is only one
part of the picture that is out of focus. None of the happy stories, songs,
or poems talk about Mommy with a bald head and deep dark circles under
her eyes. This is a different Christmas tale. It is a story about all
the moms who will sit quietly on Christmas Eve and be grateful for the
chance to spend another holiday with their family. The story is spun partly
from fiction and partly from the shared stories of breast cancer survivors.
story of the Breast Cancer Christmas.
Normally, the holidays are hectic and not always peaceful. Fitting together
the holiday schedule of a busy family with careers, schools, and social
obligations causes friction as the plans collide. The company party is
on the same night as Jason's high school choral production. Linda's fourth
grade skating trip is planned for the day that the town decided would
be perfect for the tree lighting. Then we have to decide which grandparents
get Christmas Day with us and who gets the shorter visit on Christmas
Eve. Fit the shopping, wrapping and work into this and you can see exactly
how peaceful the holidays are at our house. Somehow, we always manage
to get it all pieced together and our Christmas memory chest is full of
laughter and warmth.
year is different.
The biopsy in July showed a malignancy. Unlike my pregnancies, the growth
in my body this time was a hateful stranger. Surgery took out the growth
and the lymph nodes that were involved, but there was the chance that
some cells were left behind. That meant radiation followed by chemotherapy
to kill any last traces of the breast cancer that had invaded my life.
went well. I heard some horror stories about side effects from well meaning
acquaintances trying to prepare me, but aside from a little dizziness
and fatigue on the treatment days - and the irritation and itching, well,
I was pretty lucky. I expected the same from the chemo. Wow, was I ever
wrong. Almost every textbook side effect hit me at one time or another.
on my family has been the hardest part to deal with. Every bad day that
I have is reflected in the concern in my husband's eye and the bewilderment
in my children's. I didn't have a family history of cancer. I don't know
what it must be like to watch your mother fighting a battle for her life.
I know if my husband were the one with cancer, I would feel so helpless
and be so afraid. My poor love must be going through that, but not a trace
gets through. He is my strength. When my hope gets low, he's always ready
with a refill. He knows all the survival statistics and never for a moment
doubts that I'll be one of the survivors.
One of my gifts this year is a new wig. The kids couldn't keep it secret.
Linda thought it was so cool to pick the color and hair style she had
to model it. Jason stepped in and tried it on over his buzz cut. Who says
cancer can't make you laugh? Each day is full of these moments, each a
little gift of caring and appreciation. I wonder if, without the cancer,
we'd be so free with our love. The closeness of this terrible disease
has made us see the treasure of each smile.
So, I sit
here among the wrapped gifts and the hung stockings. The bald head and
the dark circles soon to be covered by a wig and makeup. The nausea will
pass, the pain will go away. What will be left will be another Christmas
memory. Some of my friends, my cancer buddies, doctors, and nurses have
told me that this feeling of gratitude for every moment in every day will
pass once the danger is over. The knowledge that those I love are both
precious and fragile will fade from my mind as the cancer fades from my
body. I hope not. I think the best gift this year is not under the tree,
but woven through our family. The gift that cancer has given, despite
all it has taken away, is the most valuable present in our house this
on the Web:
with Cancer During the Holidays
With Treatment During Holidays (American Cancer Society)
Cancer - Holiday Coping Skills