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Cancer Changed The Way I View The Holidays

December 16th, 2016 |
Family & Parenting

by tealelfs | Fighter: Cervical Cancer    Connect

Cancer made me more conscious and selfish of my time during the holidays. That sounds awful but it is the honest truth.

Coping with an incurable cancer made me more selective on how I spend my holidays, and my time in general. If I don’t want to spend the entire day bouncing from house to house for events and gatherings I don’t. I have made it a priority to try and schedule holiday events on days other than the actual holiday so that I feel there can be time to embrace the actual spirit of the holiday. Who says a holiday has to be celebrated on the official date, anyway?

Have you taken the time to evaluate what you want your holidays to look like? From my experience, I suggest taking a step back from all the holiday noise to ask yourself the following:

What are your top three priorities during the holidays?

There is no right or wrong answer here, only the answer that makes you happiest. Taking the time to decide what your priorities are for the holidays is important. If you don't want to go to ten different family houses in the span of two days, don't do it. It is okay to tell others no. It is okay to focus on your wishes. It is okay.

What lasting memories do you want your family to have?

Here is another place you can't go wrong. This is about what traditions you want your family to focus on and have. My family holidays are spent two hours away in my hometown. This means at my home we don't do a lot of decorating or "normal" holiday things in our own home. I used to feel bad about it. Cancer made me realize that it is okay for that to be our normal. We make our own memories of crafting and spending time together. It doesn’t have to be the same as everyone else. Holidays aren’t cookie cutter.

What makes you happiest?

Happiness is such a special thing. I find that it is important to think about how you can spend your holidays and be happy. If that means sitting surrounded by friends and family, go for it. However, if it means sitting on a beach alone that is okay too. If this was your last holiday, could you say you were happy?

Cancer has also changed how my mind works during on holidays. I spent most of Thanksgiving torn mentally, in ways most people will never understand. I wanted to take in as much of the holiday as possible, because I thought, what if it is my last? I wanted to make sure my son had an amazing time because, what if it is his last memory of Thanksgiving with me? My treatment is aggressive, my body is stable, but you never know how cancer is going to turn. If I have learned one thing since my original diagnosis in 2012 it is that you cannot will cancer to fit into your plans. As I continue on this cancer journey I continue to re-evaluate what I want my holidays to look like.

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tealelfs's picture

Erica is a thirty-year-old wife, mother, and teacher who is living her live with cervical cancer. She was first diagnosed with cervical cancer in October 2012 at stage 1b2, in April 2014 she was diagnosed with an aggressive recurrence, again in May 2015 her cancer returned. Although she is in a treatment to slow the progression of her cancer there is no cure in sight at this time.