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The Gift of Winter for Cancer Survivors

Winter can seem dreary sometimes, but there are benefits to the season, too.
PUBLISHED January 05, 2019
Jane has earned three advanced degrees and had several fulfilling careers as a librarian, rehabilitation counselor and college teacher. Presently she does freelance writing. Her articles include the subjects of hearing loss and deafness, service dogs and struggling with cancer. She has been a cancer survivor since 2010.

She has myelodysplastic syndrome, which is rare, and would love to communicate with others who have MDS.
I have a wonderful friend who does Reiki on me. She is a very special and spiritual person. We were talking about winter coming up, and I mentioned I was behind in my writing. “Winter is such a gift” She said. “People don’t realize they can stay inside and get things done they don’t in the summer.”

I looked at her in amazement as I realized how right she was. I have written another article on winter for CURE titled “On Canadians, the Cold and Cancer” about how the people there have parties and get together to get through the long hard months of ice and snow.

I typically don’t like winter. I have a small three-season room that I live in nine months of the year. I soak in the sunshine and enjoy my dancing solar figures. I love to gaze up at the stars at night, since I have three sides of complete windows to look out. I am always sad when my television comes inside and the air conditioner is turned off. I love being outside talking to my neighbors while my 14-year-old service dog rolls in the grass like a young puppy! She and I know every single outdoor patio to eat in the entire county.

Winter brings all of this to an abrupt end. It is dark at 5 p.m. I hate worrying about sliding around on icy roads and cancelling appointments. I cannot go out in the cold three-season room, and I seldom see my neighbors. The patios are all shut up with no one eating outside.
 
But my friend is right. There is a lot to be said for some advantages of winter. Unfortunately, I don’t have a fireplace, but I enjoy curling up on my loveseat and turning off the overhead lights when watching television. I have a beautiful handmade wooden tree and I change the decorations for each season. It is lighted up and features the blue snowflakes and ornaments, making my little apartment cozy and fun. I have flickering candles all over and it feels comfortable.

I do get more writing and tasks done in the cold months. It is much easier to sit in front of my computer to write when it is dark. Sometimes I go to the nearest coffee shop and write by the hour. Did you know that J.K. Rowling of the famous Harry Potter series wrote her books at a local café? If she can do it, I can! I love going to bed with my electric blanket with my cat curled up on my feet. It isn’t always a bad thing to cancel appointments or dinner with friends and just stay inside. On cold mornings, I like to make hot chocolate and look outside to see the snow falling. I realize of course, I can do that being retired. I do remember when I was working how terrible it was to get up and go to work battling snow and drifts. But it also it was a thrill to get home safe and sound and not go out again.

Someone once told me there are more authors who live in cold climates than warm ones, and I feel there is a reason door this. Winter is also a good time to clean out basements, attics and closets.

I am sick of the darkness and by March am reaching out for the light again. Knowing spring is coming keeps me going, and realizing the grass comes up again gives me hope for eternal life for all of us.

Every cancer survivor has gone through dark and terrible winters with chemo treatments, side effects and pain. But when we see these flickering lights which are friends and family, it means the world to us. We also cherish the light of spring even more – perhaps the end of a treatment or a cure.

Sometimes with the disease, we enjoy staying home and do not feel like facing anyone. However, often the day comes when we are ready to go out again. We look back on the winter, marvel at getting through it and absorb spring into every bone in our body with gratitude.

Winter is a gift that gives us more time to ourselves and that prepares us for the light again. My wise friend is absolutely right!
 
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