Celebrating the holidays can be a challenge if you or someone you love is dealing with cancer. It’s natural to feel sad, anxious, or even angry in the midst of suffering, especially if the prognosis is bleak or the future is uncertain. During these times, slowing down and focusing on your inner wisdom can be helpful even if you’re not spiritually inclined.
Stories that populate the human experience, from fairytales to religious parables, all teach lessons, and drawing from them, particularly during illness, can bring peace to situations that are otherwise fraught with fear and negativity.
The stories of Christmas and Hanukkah remind us that joy can emerge even in moments of tremendous adversity. In the Christmas saga, a child is born to travel-weary parents in the lowliest of places. As the holy newborn takes his first breath among farm animals in a stable, the world celebrates the hope of a new beginning.
In the story of Hanukkah, oil that should have lasted for only one day miraculously provided enough light for eight days. That sacred light, punching through darkness, is a helpful metaphor that all humanity can use during challenging times.
This season, if you’re finding it hard to tap into the feelings you’re “supposed” to be experiencing, remember that cancer attacks only the body; the spirit is immune. There’s a place deep within that can’t be impacted by the vulnerabilities of the flesh.
That place is open and receptive to whatever good there can be wedged within life’s difficulties. As a result of cancer, maybe your kids are learning to be more independent. Maybe your household is becoming more simplified or efficient. Maybe you and everyone around you is fostering a deeper sense of empathy.
Perhaps cancer has enabled you and your family to accept help from others. Maybe you’ve discovered unexpected gems in some relationships while other people in your life have been disappointing. These insights are opportunities to shift focus and better align time and energy to greater good.
This season, perhaps cancer will help or even force you to slow down, to find beauty in places and moments you otherwise may have missed.
The true meaning of the season is different for everyone, but cancer patients are in a unique position to experience the holidays from a new perspective — a place where the vulnerabilities of illness can reveal a more profound and beautiful truth. When those moments emerge, recognize them for the gifts they are and you’ll find joy this season, too.
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