It’s Christmas!!! The dulcet tones of Noddy Holder fills the house and I can’t help but smile. Not far behind are the vocal gymnastics of Mariah providing an injection of Christmas songs, whilst I fill the house with Christmas decorations. (I admit, this was the second last week of November!)
Christmas has always been my favourite time of year. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I start the countdown and shopping for the next year no sooner than you can say ‘Happy New Year’. I am sure I was ‘that child’ who was up all night peeking through the door to see if I could see the man himself. It is a time filled with love, laughter and fun topped off with a sprinkling of magic reindeer dust! A time to with celebrate family and friends, whilst making plans for the future. A time nothing can spoil.
Or can it?
Let me take you back to Christmas 2017, 7 months after my diagnosis with incurable secondary breast cancer. As we cosied in sporting our new festive PJs (yes they matched!) I struggled to muster any Christmas cheer. Having finished my initial aggressive IV chemotherapy only weeks before it took every little bit of inner strength that I could muster to raise a smile. Sitting on the sofa frail and weak I watched my boys decorate the tree, and as they unwrapped each decoration which symbolised a place in the world that we had visited I felt numb. I played mental ping pong trying to push the fearful thoughts from my mind. The thought of it being my last Christmas was too much to bear. In all honesty I have very few memories of that Christmas.
Fast forward two years and as I write and reflect on this Christmas, it is hard to believe how different my mindset is. November and December have passed in a whirlwind of Christmas days out, pantomimes, fun with family and friends, way too many yummy treats and we even managed a trip to Lapland to meet the big man himself! Whilst the time together was incredible, I know deep down why I planned so much for us.
A fear that sits in the pit of your stomach and on occasion creeps up into your chest as the anxiety and sadness overwhelms you. The fear that those precious moments will be your last. The fear that as the tree comes out next year you won’t be looking up at the lights as they twinkle and shine. The fear that you will be looking down on those lights as a new decoration is hung on the tree in memory of me.
I allow myself those thoughts but now I know deep down that I am strong enough not to let the Grinch that is cancer steal Christmas.