by Justin Birckbichler
There is something magical and special about the holiday season. However, in December 2016, instead of hanging ornamental balls from the tree, I was in the thick of completing chemotherapy to battle the cancer that had spread from my testicles to my lymph nodes.
My battle with cancer isn’t the only history of trying times in the holiday season. In high school, I struggled with pretty severe clinical depression. One of my lowest points during my struggle with depression was around the holidays in 2007. I was angry, sad, apathetic, and just all around down. I was in therapy and on anti-depressants to help and eventually came through a stronger person. However, the holidays were something that helped me rally and keep on living.
by Sue McKechnie, CKN Editor
One of the greatest fears of a bereaved parent is that their passed child will be forgotten. With the holiday season upon us, this feeling is more acute as loved ones gather together.
In the early years of our bereavement, I wanted so badly to buy Shawn, our 3 year old who had passed away from a brain tumour, a gift. Something under the tree so he knew that we hadn’t forgotten about him and that he was still in our hearts and minds every day. Each and every time I stopped myself though. One night, close to Christmas Eve, I decided to write him a letter. I told him how much he was missed, how much we loved him and placed the note in his stocking, hung beside everyone else’s. This felt like the right way to include him in our holiday season and has been my tradition since his passing in 2007.
by Susan McKechnie, CKN Childhood Cancer Awareness and Advocacy Section Co-Editor
Whether you are a newly bereaved parent or one with a few years of ‘experience’ under your belt, the holidays are always tough. People in general are full of holiday cheer, running around buying that perfect gift in anticipation of surprised, smiling faces opening them on Christmas morning. Those of us in the ‘experienced’ category remain wistful during the holiday season but have glimpses of hope and cheer. For parents still weighed down by the mire of grief, the holidays are an emotional rollercoaster that no-one who hasn’t been through it, can truly understand.
by Angie Giallourakis, Caregiver
When your child, no matter how old, is diagnosed with cancer life comes to a screeching halt. Imagine trying to keep your son’s or daughter’s spirits up when cancer looms overhead and it’s two weeks before Christmas.