Podcast: Cancer at Christmas and New Year

Cancer at Christmas and New Year (c) KarinSieger.com

Cancer at Christmas: What is it going to be like for you this year?

Cancer changes everything. Christmas, New Year and festive seasons are no exception. How to cope?

This edition of ‘Cancer and You’ includes questions and comments received from the cancer community about coping with uncertainty during the festive season, wanting to take care of others, feeling isolated and alone at a time which for many is about togetherness. These are just some topics Karin covers in this Christmas edition.



Find out what my first Christmas with cancer was like and what challenges it brought to my family and I.


Image via Pixabay

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  1. The holidays are especially difficult with metastatic cancer. The isolation I experience is amplified by the lack of cards, visits, phone calls, and invitations we used to get. I wonder if people are worried that I may not be well or even alive anymore. It’s funny but i really don’t think about it and Craig and I have spent the last five years at home dealing with his depression so now that he’s better I wonder what we will do. We have moved as you know and already have several invites for thanksgiving in the US, which is a big deal. People here in this smaller, far more friendly place do not know me as I once was they know me as I am now. They do not know Craig as someone who’s depressed but who he is now. I’m not suggesting everyone get up and move their lives, but it is the very best thing we’ve ever done. Our newer friends are compassionate and one *gasp* brought dinner to me because he knew I was not feeling well. Craig and I were kind of dumbstruck.

    Then there’s the fact that my parents are both dead. And they represented home to me. Now home is where my life is and it makes the holidays in some way easier for me since my family doesn’t believe I have cancer. I “look too good” according to them two of whom are registered nurses. It’s sad really.

    In the end there’s no great way to cope with the isolation except good old fashioned repression and denial. I stay really busy. My blog usually gets a remake and a lot of new content – although with the move this year I’m lucky to get two posts a month up. But we go to movies, I do see friends. And the four years before this one I was in the hospital every year between thanksgiving and Christmas. So I think I haven’t been well enough to care either.

    • Dear Ilene, Thanks for such a detailed contribution. So many reflections that no doubt many can relate to. I will include it all in the podcast. Best wishes for you. Karin

  2. Hi Karen, I was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer in January. I have been through a double mastectomy, 6 months of chemotherapy and 2 of radiotherapy, all of this without telling my family and closest friends whom all live very far away. It was my choice because my parents are 80 years old and my mum lost her own mother and two sisters and a brother to cancer. Y dad has survived 2 heart attacks. I’ve had support from my husband and friends here where I live. But I feel emotionally and physically exhausted and in a lot of pain from Chemo and antihormonal side effects. I am terrified at the prospects of Christmas and New Year. I have invented all sorts of excuses for not being able to travel and miraculously managed to avoid sending pictures or talking on cameras. I am in a dilemma. I’ve taken things this far to protect my parents but I am afraid of not longer being able to cope with my emotions. I cannot imagine ruining their Christmas with these news. The worst part of treatment is over now and I’m happy I spared them. Every week we spoke on the phone and I told them I was fine they lived a happy week. I really don’t know how I’m going to keep this up during the festive season when everyone wants to have news and feel closer. I’ve promised to come in April. Maybe by then my hair has grown back enough that and I’ll be able to tell them it’s all behind.

    • Dear Amalia,
      Thanks for sharing what you have been and are going through. I totally understand where you are coming from. I was in a similar position regards my own parents. But I decided to tell them, which of course was a shock and caused ongoing worry for them. But I felt, on balance, keeping something of such an enormity to myself would be too much pressure to cope with, not good for me, and ultimately not good for them, as they may pick up anyway that something is up. We all have to make such decision for ourselves. They did come around to it quite fast, as they could see that I was coping the best I could. But the lingering worry of losing a child to cancer and feeling helpless is obviously hard. But so is cancer and other illnesses. It is a reality of life, that we cannot ignore forever. I also hear you evaluating how you want to handle things going forward. I will include your piece (if I may) in my Christmas podcast, because I am sure many can identify with it. Perhaps it is worth reaching out to a cancer counsellor and talking things over and helping you to process all the hard times you have been going through and your concerns for the future. Check with your medical team, often hospitals offer specialist support. There may also be cancer charities in your area who offer free support, or look up a local counsellor via https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/adv-search.html I hope this is of some help for you. Best wishes for your recovery from treatment and the choices you make going forward. Karin

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