Although the holidays can be joyful, they can also be difficult. As a brain cancer survivor, I still get easily overwhelmed with decision making and activities like shopping due to crowds, loud sounds, and bright lights.
2021 was particularly challenging because I dealt with a lot of sadness. This may be due to the fact that I lost my father to Covid, that my BTB (brain tumor bestie) is battling GBM (Glioblastoma Multiforme) and was informed by her Palliative Care team a few months ago that they won’t continue treatment, or that there is just so much going on in the world.
Whatever it is, I haven't yet been able to bring myself to open a single holiday card that our family has received.
But, as I now know, that’s okay. I know this because my brain cancer journey has taught me a lot, including ways to take care of myself during this stressful time of year.
Here are a few things I’ve learned to handle the highs and lows that come with ringing in the New Year.
1. Give yourself permission to feel how you feel.
One of the biggest lessons that I have learned through my brain cancer journey is to listen to how I feel and honor it—so I’ve given myself permission to stay in this space for one more week.
Take my family holiday cards for example: Once I allow myself to process the feelings making it difficult for me to open them, I will open the cards and respond individually and graciously to each sender.
2. Take things as they come.
Before my brain cancer diagnosis, I was a workaholic and a perfectionist who prided myself on ignoring the signals my body was sending me. I took pride in my ability to push myself through anything—but now I’m giving myself space and time to take things as they come.
As we move into the New Year, my biggest priority is to remember to take it one month at a time, one week at a time, one day at a time, one hour at a time, and one moment at a time.
3. Make goal-setting a priority all year long.
I’ve always been big on self-awareness and setting goals so I don’t actually save them for New Year’s resolutions. My experiences as a survivor have taught me the beauty of gratitude, acceptance, and mindfulness. These are concepts I strive to incorporate into my thoughts each day, throughout the year.
4. Be patient with yourself.
Healing takes time. You are not alone. Listen to your body and if something isn’t right, advocate for what you need.
This isn’t always easy for survivors, but it’s important to prioritize yourself—and more than okay to do so.
As we move into 2022, I am hoping for a cure most of all, so that not one more life is lost to this disease. Beyond a cure, I wish everyone in the ABTA community peace, good health, and stable MRI’s.