A family in colorful winter coats walk through a Christmas tree farm lit up with lights

Celebrating Holidays After a Cancer Diagnosis

I love celebrating holidays even if it’s other religious holidays or other people’s cultural holidays. I like to help them celebrate something that is very sacred to them, or to their culture, but make sure I don’t offend them in any way. I’ve always loved to learn about others' cultures and traditions because learning about others helps broadens our horizons.

My lung cancer diagnosis changed everything

I never thought about not ever celebrating any holidays, to be honest, I really thought I would have all the time in the world...until November 2014 when I was told, “You have lung cancer.” That day changed everything for me.

I was diagnosed a week before Thanksgiving, and it hit me hard! Would I see Thanksgiving next year or Christmas? Will I ever see amazing costumes for Halloween or see fireworks on the 4th? I was so scared, but I still wanted to celebrate those holidays and other ones too. So that year on Thanksgiving I made sure to be with my family and celebrate big. I made sure to make Christmas extra special and NYE, just in case I wouldn’t be around the following year.

Going big for every holiday

When 2015 came I planned for the upcoming holidays and Hallmark holidays as I call them, to do extra special things. Valentine’s Day my husband went all out for me. On Memorial, Labor, and the 4th we had a big family cookout with a few friends, and my husband bought lots of fireworks for the 4th. We all got to sit outside and enjoy the show. My husband made sure to make it special for me!

I know Mother’s Day is not a holiday but that year it was beautiful for me. My husband, our children, and my brothers and sister went big for my mom and me.  Not knowing if that would be my last Mother’s Day with my mom. October came and my daughter decorated the outside of the house with Halloween goodies and I was able to give out candies to the little ones. I got to see another Thanksgiving that year and I was thankful.

Building precious memories with my family

Then the time came to go see my oncologist in December 2015 to find out if the treatment was working or not. I remember being so scared and nervous. Did I have progression? Am I getting worse? Will I see another year? All kinds of stuff running through my head.

Then my oncologist came in and said, “You are a walking miracle, you are NED (no evidence of disease)” those words were music to my ears! Right then and there I knew I would see more holidays and will get to spend them with my family. I’m going to build precious memories with them and now with my grandchildren.

It’s been 8 years now, but I continue to celebrate all and any holidays as much as I can. Big or small I make sure to build those memories for my family! It is very important to leave cherished memories for your family and friends!

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