Chemo at Christmas Time

Write your Cancer at ChristmasShould anyone be on chemo at Christmas time? Chemo and Christmas are two words that just don’t work together.

Gordon’s chemo tablets had given him the side effects that only 1 – 3% of chemo patients get.  He felt like he was drunk all the time, he was clumsy and his fine motor skills became deficient. His muscles twitched uncontrollably and his heart was giving off weird signals when they ran an ECG. His larynx was becoming constricted and he talked like a 13 year old male, who’s voice had just broken.

That meant he had to go off the chemo tablets, but they were still in his system.

The lead up to Christmas day was not good and Gordon spent a lot of it in bed. The night before Christmas Eve we spent in the Xray department as Gordon needed a MRI to check for neurological damage. Some of Christmas Eve was spent in the Oncology department seeing his oncologist to decide about treatment. It was a very quiet and lonely Christmas.

We were saddened to see so many chemo patients in the department and we wished more than ever that we could just take away everyone’s cancer. Even just for Christmas.

How did we cope with Chemo at Christmas time? As with every major event that occurs, everyone copes differently. Here are three ways we were able to cope knowing Gordon was affected by Chemo at Christmas.

  1. By Taking Each Day as it Came – We have learnt not to make plans and to ignore the little things that really don’t matter. The lead up to Christmas is usually a busy one and we have always had lots of fun making a chocolate snowman, catching up with people and shopping. This lead up was very quiet and because Gordon had been unwell, he didn’t have the strength to go shopping.
  2. By Doing What Gordon Felt Like Doing – On Christmas Eve, Gordon was in bed asleep by 7.30pm. When he needed to sleep, he slept. When Gordon had the strength, we went for a little walk with the dogs and on Christmas day itself, Gordon felt up to seeing his Mum and sister for Christmas lunch – which was lovely.
  3. We Treasured Each Moment Together – Gordon and I have value our time together so much more deeply now. We imagined our first Christmas together as a married couple to be completely different to the reality of it. This Christmas was quiet and Gordon kept apologising because I had had to go and buy my own Christmas present from him and he couldn’t give me what he wanted to get me (Whatever that was). We shed a few tears together, but at the end of the day, we were happy to just be with each other. We had had some friends lose family members right before Christmas and we considered ourselves blessed to be able to be together. We talked about having a White Christmas together one day and we feel so blessed knowing that next year, Christmas is going to be different.

If you have had to go through chemo at Christmas, I’d love to know what you did to cope with it. Please email me or leave a comment below. It may help someone else cope next year.

One reader (who also happens to be my sister and has graciously shared her story), was actually diagnosed with breast cancer just before Christmas two years ago. You can read her story here…

If you have a story you would like to share on this blog to help others, please send it in and I’ll take a look at it. If just one cancer survivor, patient or supporter is helped by us, it makes running this blog worth it.


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