Staying in Gratitude During the Holidays

Last updated: December 2021

If you or someone close to you received a bladder cancer diagnosis, it may be tough to reflect on the year and feel grateful for what it has brought. But I believe, sick or well, it is the only way forward that preserves our well-being.

Cancer stops us in our tracks

Illness, and especially one so life-altering as bladder cancer, stops us in our tracks. All the so-called important stuff that had cluttered our minds the day before the diagnosis suddenly seems far less urgent. Illness gives us pause. We consider, what if tomorrow is very different? What if I (or someone I love) is not here tomorrow? It reminds us how utterly fragile we all are – sick or well, none of us knows how much time we have here.

A new perspective

Some call cancer a gift because they adopt a new perspective as a result. I’ve never been able to call it a gift since my first husband lost his life from it. But I understand the deep gratitude that can come from that new perspective and how, indeed, it may feel like a gift to those who overcome their bladder cancer.

Here now – it’s all that we can be certain about. It’s all we’ve got. The tests, the labs, the scans, the appointments, and on and on will happen whether we fixate on them or not. So why not, instead, fixate on your holiday traditions – or adopt some traditions if you don’t have any.

New holiday traditions

Go for a walk or drive to view holiday lights. Go to a lounge in a swanky or old-fashioned hotel that is decorated for the holidays and drink some hot chocolate. Go ice skating or watch your kids or grandkids ice skate. Write some holiday cards to friends and family even if you don’t feel like it and even if it seems too late for them to arrive by Christmas or New Year’s. Call up a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.

In short, do anything that connects you to others and connects to the season. If you don’t feel like doing any of these things, that’s a sure sign you must do them! You’ll be surprised how much better you feel once you start.

Feeling gratitude

I struggled mightily to feel gratitude when my first husband had metastatic bladder cancer and it was becoming clear that he probably wouldn’t survive. And many days, I didn’t do so well at being grateful. But some days I did – I was grateful that he was still here with me and that we could enjoy our days in the smallest of ways. Small things like going out for tea or painting with acrylic paints or driving around to look at Christmas lights. Events that seemed small at the time have become treasured memories.

What events from today will you and your family treasure five years from now?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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