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Love, Vanessa

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How to Get Through a Cancer Diagnosis During the Holidays

Updated: Apr 13

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Dear Cancer,


Let’s face it, a diagnosis from you is awful any time of the year. But a cancer diagnosis during the holidays is truly horrific. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2017, but found out the severity of my cancer two weeks before Christmas. Let me tell you, the timing couldn’t have been any worse. Finding this information out just before Christmas and New Year’s was EXTREMELY upsetting. For my family, like many people, Christmas is a time for joy, love, and making wonderful memories. How on Earth was I supposed to feel merry at a time like this?! It is by no means easy, but if it should happen to you, here are a few tips to help you get through a new cancer diagnosis.


Keep Yourself as Busy as Possible


I have always found that keeping myself busy keeps me from sitting around and thinking about things too much. I don’t know about you, but when I’m bored at home, thoughts tend to wander throughout my mind. This is when I start to drive myself crazy. If possible, try to make plans for yourself as much as you can. Obviously don’t overdo it, but plan some fun things to do! Checkout any Christmas Markets in your area, see a Christmas musical/play, go skating, or go out for dinner with friends.


Not feeling up to going out? You don’t need to leave your house to focus on something else. Baking can be a fun thing to do, relaxing and watching a Christmas movie (HUGE shoutout to Hallmark, I am obsessed with your movies) with your significant other, family, or friends can be quite relaxing and enjoyable too. If you are not feeling well, of course take it easy, but if you have energy and want to have fun, get out there and do it!


Be Present in the Moment (Don’t focus about the future too much)


Once diagnosed with cancer for the second time, I was forced to re-evaluate my life. One thing I have learned over the last little while is to live in the moment and try not to worry about what’s ahead. I mean all everyone has is the present moment, cancer diagnosis or not, right? Being present in the moment is obviously easier said than done, but try not to worry about what’s to come, even if that means treatment. There is so much fun and excitement during Christmas, it’s pretty hard not to get caught up in the excitement, even if it’s just a little bit. The plan for me was to start chemo in January, so I knew once the holidays were over, my treatment would soon begin. I really tried hard to put it out of my mind and really focus on spending time with my loved ones. I definitely had some tough moments though.


If you ask yourself ‘Why Am I Not Enjoying This?” Don’t worry, it’s to be expected


There may be times when you are having an awful time, whether it be with family or friends. Everyone around you will understand. This may be a sign that you need to go find a quiet area to be alone. Remember, it’s okay if you are not up to something all of the time. Moments like these are expected and can happen to anyone at any time in life.


Don’t Be Blue about feeling the Blues


If you feel like crying when you are sitting at the table with your family, just do it. You don’t always have to put on a brave face. Your loved ones are always there for you. Don’t beat yourself up if you are feeling down during this season. Some days you may embrace the season, and other days you may not and that’s okay. It’s okay if you are not in the mood to do the things you have done in the past during Christmas.


Listen to Your Body


Make sure you take the time to rest and take care of your body. Sleep is very important during the holidays because you don’t want to overdo it. Try to continue your exercise routine to stay strong and to prepare your body for what’s to come. During the holidays, it is so easy to get carried away with delicious food, treats and alcohol. Remember, everything in moderation. Try to eat somewhat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch your alcohol consumption. Your body will thank you later!


Pull the Cancer Card


Yup, you read that correctly. You were dealt an unlucky hand of cards, so why not use it? The holidays can be an extremely busy time with lots of baking, cooking, shopping, decorating and wrapping to name a few. Don’t try to do it all. Ask others for help. Online shopping is a great way to shop without the chaos and exhaustion. Take a break from hosting at your house-- go out for dinner instead this year. Have your significant other and/or family decorate your house. Only do what your body can handle and don’t be afraid to say no, or ask for a helping hand.


Remember to breathe and relax. I know that during the holidays, going through such stress can be hard. You are not alone. There is no better time to be surrounded by your loved ones. Take one day at a time and try to make the best out of this time.


Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!


Love,


Vanessa


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