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Letter From the Editor: December Blues

Dear Bellies,

This month brings forth so many emotions in all of us.  The joy and wonder we see on our children’s faces, the cheer and hope on the faces of parents, and even the harried resentment on the faces of Christmas shoppers bustling together in the malls.  For those of us living with cancer, the feelings also plummet into fear, despair, and sadness.

What if this is our last Christmas?

Of anyone facing this horrible disease, who hasn’t thought this at some point?  This is my fourth Christmas living with metastatic breast cancer and I honestly wasn’t sure I’d make it this far.  I watch my son’s face bursting with eagerness and a deceptively well-behaved attitude only to find myself swept up in the inevitable question…is this my last Christmas with him?  The emotion is so raw, it is staggering.

The truth is that none of us have the answer to that question.  From the healthiest marathoner to the most ill person you can think of, time is elusive.  It is intangible.  Cancer patients stare death in the face every day that we wake.  It is completely normal to have these questions and these feelings!  It is okay to allow yourself the grace to feel all of the emotions inside of you.  You are not alone.

I will admit, I have become selfish with this holiday.  I want to watch Christmas with the Kranks one hundred times while my son groans.  I have been listening to Christmas music since November 1st and you know what?  It makes me happy.  When I Christmas shop, I wish everyone I see (especially the grumpy grinches shoving through the stores) a Happy Holiday.  I also believe in buying one for you…and one for me.  I also allow myself the time I need to grieve the life I hoped to have and celebrate the one that I do.  For some reason, the holidays heightens this aspect of our lives.

This season, be a little more selfish.  Give yourself what you need to embrace the holiday.  Not everyone will like it and that is okay.  Make those memories with your loved ones, but give yourself the freedom to feel all of the feelings you have inside of you.  Be a little silly and laugh as often as you can.  One of my favorite parts of this month is the hope and bit of magic this holiday brings…I choose to believe in Santa as a symbol of those very things.

And you know what else?  If you want to say forget it and ignore the holiday, you can do that too.  There is no right or wrong.  The only responsibility you have for getting through this month is to be true to yourself.   Maybe looking at it as the possible last holiday is just the push we need to celebrate it the way we really want to.

Embrace the Season

The truth is that this is a hard time of year for a lot of people.  If you are full of joy and can’t understand that, good for you!  Celebrate!  But let us all be more empathetic to those around us and allow each other the grace we need.  The most loving thing you can say for your friends and family is ‘I see you.  I am here for you. I love you.’  And give them pie…maybe some hot chocolate too.

Merry Christmas.  Happy Hanukkah.  Happy Kwanzaa. Happy Holidays to all of you from all of us.  We wish you a magical, graceful holiday season (and Santa’s watching so…).

xo, April

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  • April Doyle is a MBC patient with a big mouth and passion for writing. Originally diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in 2009, she has been living with stage IV metastasis since 2014. A single mom, April continues to work full time when not running after her six year old son. She has a BA in English Literature from CSU Fresno and can generally be found with her nose in a book, listening to the repetitive shouts of mom, mom, mom.

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