It’s that time of year again when, for many, the top job of the month is preparing for the perfect holiday. Regardless of our traditions – religious and otherwise, our “to-do” lists tend to be much longer in December than at any other time of year.
For many, the passing of another year reminds us of changes in our lives since last year. We celebrate births and mourn losses. Children who were away at college for the first time, are home making us realize how much we really miss them. There may have been weddings, divorces, funerals, new jobs and lost ones – joy and sadness. Of course, in a perfect world, holiday joy would wrap everyone in a blanket of happiness, love and new beginnings. Sadly, for many families, this month of tidings and good cheer can be anything but. For me, as blessed as I’ve been – enjoying my 13-month old grandson, traveling to AZ and the Grand Canyon with a life-long friend and responding very well to my third treatment since my mets diagnosis in 2009, there is still the sadness of losing two friends to breast cancer. (One, I knew personally. The other, I knew as a member of an on-line support group.) Neither ever complained or felt sorry for themselves, but dealing with metastatic breast cancer wore them down. One decided to stop treatments weeks before she passed. The other (who had a school-aged son) was trying anything, right up to the day she posted her “good-bye” to her virtual friends and passed shortly thereafter.
Regardless of our holiday rituals and celebrations, the sad truth is that in the last year, once again – almost 40,000 women and men passed away from metastatic breast cancer. Their families and friends face a very different reality this year. No presents, great food and holiday traditions can change that for those left behind as the breast cancer monster finally rendered useless the treatments, diagnostics, clinical trials and second opinions that are very much a part of life with metastatic breast cancer.
While I am not a woman who shies away from a good fight and have been told by several people who know or knew me well (including my own mother and daughter) that I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I didn’t have the last word, I know that someday, breast cancer will have the last word and no snippy email or comment from me will change that. I won’t be able to bait my challenger so I can end the discussion with a stinging final comment. I won’t walk away thinking I won. As much as I hate to be on the losing end of any fight, I know my challenger will win.
Someday, it will be my passing that is mourned at the holiday celebrations. As I believe in an afterlife and that we live through those we leave behind, I don’t want to be the loved one whose passing casts a pall of sadness over treasured holiday rituals. I want a chair for me to sit in and for my family toast to a wonderful life. I want to have the last words, as I always do. “Stop with the sad faces, enjoy your meal and of course – Buon Natale!”
Don’t Stop Believing!
Dedicated to my mom who would have been 85 today (12/19). She fought the good fight and passed in 2001. She is with me – on Christmas and every day. I toast to her wonderful life!
May you realize that even in your darkest moments, something wonderful and amazing can happen that will change your life and remind you to never stop living for those rays of light that will take away the dark.