Christmas Greetings

Dear Ones,

Well, it’s been five months, now.  Five months out, five months along, five months since receiving that terrible shock we’ve been referring to as ‘my diagnosis’ (even though those two little words can’t possibly describe the seismic shift that’s been reconstructing the core of my being since I got the news.)

Five months from July.  Let’s see.  That takes us to …. Christmas!  Yay Christmas!  Except, this Christmas is different.  This is my first Christmas as a Cancer Warrior.  What does Christmas mean when you’re a Cancer Warrior?  One of my friends, a woman in my parish, is also battling cancer.  She’s been letting everyone know the effect this ‘Season of Good Cheer’ has had on her.  “What’s the matter with me?” she’ll ask you, “It’s as if there never were a Christmas.”  From there she describes what’s she’s feeling.  Untamed jagged feelings.  Bitter, agonized, hopeless feelings.  I can listen to her, but I can’t share my emotions.  She’s too raw to be able to hear I’m about to share with you.

I still see the hope in Christmas.  I’m ready, in these days, to anticipate joy, and to celebrate.  The savior we’ve been promised is waiting to be born.  I’ll tell you, with all that’s happening in the world, and all that’s happening to me personally I’m really ready to greet him.  More than ever I understand that I need a savior.

When I was first diagnosed, I told the doctor, “Don’t give me a prognosis, just give me hope.”  They say you find what you’re looking for — and I’m looking for hope.  I’m looking to Christmas and (guess what?) I’m finding hope.  Hope for a better world.  Hope for time with the ones I love; hope for the chance to share gratitude with the one who mean most to me.

When I look at my own face, these days, it’s hard to see much Christmas joy  — so I find joy in the faces of others, particularly my nieces: “Mrs. Claus” and “Mrs. Claus”.  There’s joy in their homes, and there’s joy in the effort they take to make their homes warm and inviting.  Joy radiates from their hearts every time they select a gift.    You can taste the joy they produce while they’re making their Christmas cookies, their perfect Christmas cookies.

You know, there’s an upside to being a cancer warrior during Christmas.  I have an excuse, now, to remove myself from everyone else’s ‘consumer craziness’.  I can concentrate on the real meaning of this most solemn of Feast Days.  I’m praying with hope for a long, healthy and productive life so I can witness the joy in all of those who are close to me, all the ones I love.  That’s all I pray for, that’s all I need to know that I’m the most blessed person in the world.

There are miracles in Christmas, and miracles have come my way in the Christmas of 2012.

First miracle.  I would never, ever, ever have believed I’d find a diet where I never had to exercise, could eat whatever I wanted to, whenever I wanted and be able to lose fifty-seven pounds in twenty two weeks.  I couldn’t believe it, but it’s exactly what has happened.  Yeah, — I can eat whatever I like, if I can motivate myself to eat anything; I can eat all day, too, if I want to.  The trick is keeping it down

Second miracle.  I’m married to a super-hero.  This man, the man I’ve known and loved for twenty five years has always been the kind of guy who — how shall I put it? — requires a little ‘looking after’, some extra support to do certain things, extra motivation to do anything, if fact.  People said I spoil Paul, and I always have.  I’ve been the one, in our marriage, who takes over and takes charge.  I’ve had to be.  When I first got sick I was terrified by the thought of Paul trying to get by without me.  I wasn’t the only one worried.  When Liqa’s godmother asked my daughter what she needed most, caring for a sick mother, Liqa said, “Help me with dad!”

Think I’m exaggerating?  Paul is a guy who asked me for the entirety of our marriage where we keep the silverware.  Lately, though, he’s someone I can hardly recognize.  He takes care of the house, manages the finances, supplies 24/7 emotional support, is father (and sometimes mother) to Angelique.  All the while he continues to be a compassionate mental health practitioner, a loving son, brother and uncle.  When this amazing man entered my life twenty-five years ago, I knew he was a blessing.  I just never could have guessed what a blessing he’d turn out to be.

So, everyone, “Merry Christmas” — and if you don’t celebrate Christmas, celebrate the fact that I’m still here — and happy to be here!  May God bless you, and everyone you love with a peaceful season and a joyous New Year.




About pamvbradford

I am a fifty seven year old banker specializing in government banking. I have a beautiful twenty-one year old daughter and a wonderful husband. My husband and I recently downsized, and purchased a beautiful condo in Watertown MA. We love our new home. I know I am a very fortunate person. I am surrounded by supportive family members, by supportive coworkers and by the marvelous support of our faith community at Sacred Heart Parish in Lexington MA. As the Psalm says, "There is nothing that I lack." My whole life changed on July 18, 2012 when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The news came from out of the blue. My tumor was removed by the marvelous Dr. Mark Johnson and his wonderful team of surgeons at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The surgery truly was a miracle. I couldn't possibly have gotten better care. Now the 'easy' part is over. The tough part is to learn to walk with God in the midst of danger and surprise. My mood shifts from gratitude to fear and back again but I know God has a purpose for me. There's a reason I didn't die on the operating table. There's something that God wants me to do. This blog is my effort to share with others, with all of you, what it is that I am learning as I put one foot ahead of the other, live each day as it comes, and discover what it is that God has to teach me. Your prayers keep me going. Your love comforts me. Your knowledge and faith guide and teach me. God bless you all!
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9 Responses to Christmas Greetings

  1. Rosemarie Degeorge says:

    Hi Pam, I believe we met many, many years ago through your sister, Julie, I was her neighbor in New Jersey. We have always continued to be friends and visited each other. All I can say, is that you are such a humble and blessed instrument of God, He continues to bless all of us, but especially you during this trying time. As you said, hope is the key. Know that you are in my daily prayers as I attend daily Mass. Keep up the good work you have be blessed to share. Peace, Rosemarie

  2. karla says:

    You are truly amazing………… Thinking and praying for GREAT results for you tomorrow…… You are ALWAYS in our thoughts and prayers
    We love you

  3. Chide says:

    Merry Christmas to your family! Good things will come… 🙂

  4. Kim Donoghue says:

    Hi Pam! I just wanted to say hi and hope you have a very merry Christmas with your loved ones. Thinking of you always! XOXO

  5. Mary Ann Bourque says:

    What an amaziing little family you are. Your prayers are being answered in so many ways and there are blessings in all circumstances as we witnessed in Brianna’s journey.
    Merry Christmas Pam, Paul and Angliaque.

  6. ronald lancaster says:

    Pam, This is for me the most beautiful Christmas post, ever. The sentiments flow from your gracious and beautiful heart. I filled with Christmas joy as I read each word. God bless you, Paul the wonderful, and Liqa, the warrior’s right hand ! I so appreaciate your other Christmas miracles, the Misses Claus, or as we know, Stephanie and Karla. Know that all who love you, some outspoken, some quiet, think of you, pray for you and thank God for you. You were my personal miracle when Ma had you, and I am thankful for all the years I have enjoyed my precious little sister. I look forward to you being the one to comfort me in my old age (coming faster than I thought.) May you have a miraculous Christmas, enjoying your family and family. You have made mine extra happy. Love you so, Julie

  7. David says:

    “I still see the hope in Christmas. I’m ready, in these days, to anticipate joy, and to celebrate.”
    People don’t see enough of this in the world. They turn on the news and see death and dismay, heartbreak and hopelessness, but they don’t see faith. They don’t see unconquerable joy. And that is one of the greatest tragedies of our time. But by putting these words on display for the whole world to see – you are reversing that trend. Thank you for your hope. Thank you for your faith.

  8. Jaye's Brain says:

    I’m always happy to find you in my mailbox. 7 years out I still relate, closely and thankfully to your words: ” THERE IS an upside to being a cancer warrior during Christmas. I have an excuse, now, to remove myself from everyone else’s ‘consumer craziness’. I can concentrate on the real meaning of this most solemn of Feast Days.” That’s all I pray for, that’s all I need to know that I’m the most blessed person in the world.” Thank you for writing these words, for blogging, for trudging on. Love you! Merry Christmas!

  9. I celebrate the miracle that you are and the many miracles you are becoming aware of in your life. Blessings to you, Paul, and your family during this Christmas season, and a continuing return to health in the New Year!

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