Covid-19, Holidays, and Advanced Breast Cancer: What Are Your Plans?
The holidays can be stressful for all of us, and living with advanced breast cancer during a deadly pandemic can certainly add to that. My question is...what are YOUR plans this year? For me, this is my first year in a brand-new state. I moved away from my family a long time ago, and my children will be splitting the holidays with their father. COVID-19 is also spiking in my area, and as an immunocompromised chemotherapy patient, I quarantine in my house most days. This has made me have to carefully figure out how to best celebrate in a safe way.
Advanced breast cancer can process out of control at any time
Like most advanced breast cancer patients, I am very cognizant of the fact my disease can process out of control at any time. This makes holidays even more special! If we cannot have the quantity, quality becomes all the more important. Many of us live away from family and friends, and this is the time of year we would "go home". When that is taken from us, what do we do?
Revising plans for the upcoming holidays
For Thanksgiving, I ordered dinner to eat at home from a local restaurant and decorated the house with my children. We made salt dough ornaments, pine cone garland, and a homemade dessert. For a safe day out of the house, I am surprised them with a drive-thru holiday lights show. On Christmas, we are having a big brunch and will open presents before they spend the day at their dad's. While I don't love the idea of spending Christmas alone, I plan on breaking in my present (new pair of boots!) by taking our dog, Star, for a long, peaceful walk in the woods (hopefully with snow!). I have been discouraged from air travel, so my best friend is flying to me for New Year's Eve. I am planning a night for us at a famous haunted hotel, and packing all of the goodies needed for a fun in-room party!
Other advanced breast cancer community members share their plans
- Alia M. also lives with advanced breast cancer. Due to Covid-19, this year she will be celebrating the holidays at her Idaho home. Alia says, "We are cooking everything at home this year, just the husband, three kids and me. We were going to spend Christmas in Seattle with my family but because of Covid-19 we will be staying home in Idaho. Covid-19 has been really hard with stage 4 breast cancer. I can't help but wonder how many more holiday seasons I have and I wish I could spend them with loved ones."
- Rachal P., of Georgia, will be seeing family close to home for the holidays. Rachal shared; "On Thanksgiving, I spent the day with my family (probably 10 of us or so), and also dinner at my in-laws (about 13 of us including kids). I’ve sat out of a lot of things this year, and with my brain Mets giving me hell, and the uncertainty of my chemo working, I’m going to spend it with my family. Of course, being as safe as possible, a few family members even got tested to ensure. I’m tired of just seeing hospitals and doctors. But I completely respect and understand why others are staying in."
- In Connecticut, Delta K is planning a quiet holiday season with her new treatment in mind. Delta explains; "Last year, after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, I went really big for the holidays. I had lots of outings and saw all my loved ones. I wanted to make grand memories, as I just wasn't sure if I would be around for the next holiday season. I am grateful that I did that. This year I'll be celebrating the holidays with immediate family only. I can understand choosing to plan for a safe gathering with family/friends if that is what another thriver wants to do, we all have one life to live and sadly we are very aware of how short that life is. Personally, I have decided to keep it simple this year because I am starting a new treatment and my energy is low, as is my immune system's ability to fight. So, an intimate holiday season it will be. Though I'll be hopping on zooms to say hello to loved ones all over the place, so long as I feel up for that."
Holidays mean so much to us living with metastatic breast cancer
Whether it's creating new traditions in a new state, staying home with family, or visiting with local relatives, holidays mean so much to us living with advanced breast cancer. We never know how many holidays we have left, and it is not as easy for us as it is for others to say, "There's always next year". This holiday season may look a lot different than it normally does thanks to COVID-19, but one thing remains unchanged...we are going to make it count.
What are YOUR plans this holiday season? Has COVID-19 impacted how you celebrate? Please share with our ABC community!
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to share that on Friday, October 29, 2021, Danielle Thurston passed away. We know that Danielle’s voice and perspective continue to reach so many. She will be deeply missed.
Have you gotten a second (or third) opinion after your breast cancer diagnosis?