The Holidays Can Be Bittersweet for Cancer Survivors: Here’s How I’m Riding Out the Waves


Oftentimes the warmest holiday moments can remind cancer survivors of how much their paths have been derailed, a survivor explains.

Getting together with family this time of year can be bittersweet.

I love seeing them and spending time together. We’re all super close. But in a way it reminds me of scan time during treatment, where up until then, I’d be lost in my day-to-day routines, mind completely occupied, and then scan results would force me to snap out of it and come to terms with the big picture.

This year in particular has brought significant life changes. My parents moved to Florida and both my sister and sister-in-law are starting families. Only a few years ago during treatment, I relied heavily on these people as my anchors — socially and emotionally. And while we’ll remain as close as ever and I’m so excited for them, I’ll miss everyone being as accessible as they used to be.

Seeing others so sure about their path and chasing dreams, I struggle not to dwell on my own relatively stagnant life progress and the limitations I've been battling since cancer. It can feel like a rude awakening, having to reconcile with just how much my path has been derailed.

As it all starts to feel a little too overwhelming, I try focusing on gratitude — for being alive and finding true love with my wife — and the simplicity of things that are always available: a good book or movie, a cozy cup of coffee in the morning, music and meditation.

Also, my wife reminded me that I don’t always need to take everything on myself. So I’m back on the hunt for a new therapist and have been leaning into my support groups. I enjoy being around people that understand and keep things in proper perspective, while still propelling me to explore new horizons and continue growing.

The emotions may feel heavier today, and nobody ever said cancer — or life for that matter — was easy, but I’m doing my best to ride out the waves, one day at a time. And know that eventually the tide will turn just as it always does.

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