Celebrations Big and Small

At first, after your cancer diagnosis, you think you’ll never feel like celebrating again, or at least not until things get “back to normal” (see The New Normal for more on that!). However, we soon found that celebrating the little victories, the milestones and even the tiniest bit of good news not only kept our spirits up, it also made us feel better! Smiles and laughter are good for the soul, good for relationships, and good for your body! Scientists have come out with some interesting studies on this over the last few years and discovered what we all suspected–making yourself smile can actually make you happier and healthier! And laughter–whoa–that is some truly powerful medicine!

What makes celebrations so good for you? First of all, you are saying YES to life. That may sound corny, but I think it’s true. You are not just celebrating one person; you are celebrating that person and your relationship with them. You are essentially saying that it is worth it to you to spend time fostering relationships in your life. And relationships are all about the future. How empowering!

Second, you are affirming that you have a strong desire to live beyond the next treatment or scan, but beyond that, into the realm of joy! It’s like the difference between having a dry piece of toast and a glass of water for dinner versus sitting down for a deliciously seasoned home-cooked meal with a glass of Tattinger Champagne (my personal favorite :0)). When you celebrate like this with your loved ones and friends, you are saying “BRING IT ON!”

Third, your friends and family want to rally around you and support you. People always ask what they can do to help, and sometimes you just can’t think of anything to say. But then you decide to celebrate something–even the tiniest of milestones–and your friends rush in to help plan and party with you. Finally! Something they can do to help you through a difficult patch!

In our case, our oldest daughter turned 21 just two short days after we received the full report from the initial surgery. None of us felt like celebrating, even the birthday girl herself, but with help from a dear friend of hers, we pulled together some of her high school, college, and swim team friends, a few of our family friends, a cake and pizza, some (legal) beer and wine, and we set off for the pool for a casual evening with dear friends. It was a difficult period in our family’s life, but somehow in the midst of a crisis, a birthday celebration squeezed its way in and reminded us of the power of community, friendship, and love.

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(Above: Celebrating a milestone at the pool, just 2 days after receiving the biopsy report from surgery. Here we are, gathered around the homemade birthday cake. I still can’t believe I actually made G’s regular birthday cake-Chocolate Cocoa Cola Cake. Keeping up with the tradition was oddly comforting!)

A month after chemo ended, we celebrated G’s graduation from college. That was a biggie and we were particularly pleased my sister was also able to make it (see photo at top of page). This was a multi-day celebration, combining a celebration of our daughter’s college graduation, the end of nine months of chemo, and our son’s week-long vacation in the US. It also served as a good memory-maker before the next surgery which took place just 3 days after G’s graduation! It’s always helpful to sock away a few more positive memories in the memory bank before making another withdrawal.

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(Above: Old-fashioned birthday party at the skating rink! Great fun!)

What’s life if not about making new memories? Take every chance you have to celebrate life!

Other reasons to celebrate:

–a clean scan! Always worth a dip in the hot tub or a trip to the local ice cream/fro yo shop!

–end of another chemo treatment! Go to a movie with your love or friends; order your favorite take-out meal; sleeeeeeeep! (make sure it’s a “good” day for whatever you choose)

–relatives visiting or relatives just left (you pick!)! Go to the nearest trampoline location and jump for joy! (rebounding is a legitimate form of exercise, too!)

–end of chemo treatments! Quick! Go to the nearest country inn to relax and breathe in the fresh mountain air. We headed to Stone Manor Bed & Breakfast for a wonderful get-away.

–one year milestone of being cancer-free! Take a trip to the beach or just take the day off and try some new DIY recipes with your friends.

–two year milestone of being cancer-free! Take a big trip! Outfit a DIY Craft Room in your house! Go on a Yoga and Meditation Retreat! Do something special with your loved ones.

I’m sure you can think of other celebration-worthy moments. If you have a chance, please share the moments of celebration that have helped you through a tough period and that still bring a smile to your face!

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