It’s November 30th, 2011 – tomorrow is the first of December, 2011, and in my household that means the start of Christmas. Now whether or not your celebrate this occasion, everyone has moments designated to celebrate life and family and spirituality and peacefulness. For me, that’s Christmas.
But there’s another layer of importance I tend to give to this season. Maybe it’s something you also recognize?
During chemotherapy last year I had a countdown going. It started in August with my very first treatment, and it created such drama in my life I hardly knew how to cope. The countdown calendar was labelled Sixteen ticks till Christmas. Because if I’d I stayed on schedule I would have finished all chemo before Christmas, and I had this crazy idea that once chemo was over I could fly to Canada and spend the holiday with my family.
If you don’t know, I had most of my treatment in England. Away from family, except my husband, and so throughout those months I was dreaming of home.
Anyhow, if you’ve had chemotherapy you know it often doesn’t go according to plan. Things get delayed for whatever reason, be it weight, or scheduling, or infection, or blood count. And so my chemo finish date was pushed further and further back. It soon got to the point where it was a choice between not finishing chemotherapy and not seeing my family for the holidays.
And maybe that sounds like an obvious choice – be practical, right? Finish treatment.
Well . . . I kinda go where my heart takes me, and at that time I was so desperate to be with family that even when the doctors told me, ‘You’re not going to be able to go home.’ I kept saying, ‘but there must be something we can do.’
Turns out there was, and a plan was hatched that got me to Canada, let me finish chemotherapy, and most importantly, reunited me with the family who I hadn’t seen since before the diagnoses crashed into our worlds. It wasn’t easy to get home in time for the holidays, but I fought for it. Pushed for it. Pestered for it. And with the encouragement and organization of my parents, my doctors, my husband – we achieved that goal.
For someone who feels totally blown out by the chemo, it feels awesome to have a win.
It was quite a journey between England and Canada, and really hard to bring the reality of cancer to my family in Canada who had, in some ways, been protected by distance from the difficulties. But last year may have been the most important Christmas of my life – even thought my heart ached without Zsolt, my head was so bald, and the energy was lacking . . . being home was the best kind of healing gift I could have ever received.
I guess when you fight for something, it takes on a higher kind of importance. Just like we fight for our lives and come to see that everyday matters; the wonderfulness of life takes on a new edge – a sharper focus – a spilling of colours.
So here we go into December and the madness of the holidays. Bring it on. I only see one thing on the horizon: time with family and friends, a vibrating, shining, untouchable time when things are good because we have love. It’s all about the overflowing love – hard to describe actually, but for me it’s quite potent.
Anyhow, I know this all sounds very Hallmark and such. But hey – ‘sentimental’ may as well be my middle name, and besides, isn’t sentiment what the holidays are all about? I reckon so. Lots of love, lots of great food, and loads of sentimental behaviour.
Speaking of sentiment, here’s a song that kept running through my mind last year, pulling me back toward the idea of home. You probably know it, it’s a classic.
P.P.S. If you’d like to read about my journey from England to Canada during the Christmas season (when I fought and pestered to get someone to let me go home) here’s a link back to that story. Really, it starts earlier (with my first crisis happening when chemo was delayed due to low blood counts) but you can start here.