I was watching a television show I have mentioned in some other articles.  The show “New Amsterdam” features a medical director of a hospital who has cancer. He talks honestly about his cancer journey.  One of the statements he made to a colleague was, “Cancer changes everything – and nothing.”

     I stared at the screen and knew exactly what he meant.  The day we are diagnosed the world stops.  Everything is in slow motion.  We watch our world change more than we ever thought possible.  We go to work, we brush our teeth, and we take a shower like before.  We wait what seems like forever for tests to get completed and treatment plans drawn up while we go on like robots.

     Inside, we are screaming, I am sick, I have cancer, and I may die. What will happen with chemo and surgery and radiation? Will I lose my hair, will I throw up, and will I be bedridden? These thoughts pelt us like hail hitting on a car windshield.  Everything has changed for us.

     When we go to the waiting room for our treatments or appointments with our doctors, we look around and watch others going through the same emotions.  Some have coverings on their bald heads.  Others are softly crying.  Others are talking to their family with sad expressions on their faces. Still others have shunts in their arms or chests.  We wonder if we look like everyone else in the room.  Some people look normal, but maybe they are relatives or not yet diagnosed.

     Stepping outside of the hospital world is different.  People are driving/ working/walking/laughing/talking/watching their kids and doing what they do every single day.  Nothing has changed.   Initially, it seems a bit unfair.  If our world has turned upside down and inside out and topsy turvy - why is life still going on for others?  Yet, it is a relief as we realize we may join that world again after the treatments.

     I will go one step further and say the death of a loved one, a horrible divorce, a bankruptcy, a storm that destroys our house also can leave us shaken and not knowing how anyone can go on.

     This doctor, although fictitious, has hit the nail on the head.  Cancer changes everything.  Our whole worldview is different and our bodies will never be the same again.  We know how vulnerable we are and are more grateful for the little things.

     Yet it changes nothing.  The sun comes up in the morning and sets in the evening.  The seasons change and we wear different clothing to accommodate the weather.  The earth is still rotating on its axis.  Life does go on and we can find comfort in that.


I have a wonderful friend who does Reiki on me.  She is very special, and a spiritual person.  We were talking about winter coming up and I mentioned I was behind in my writing.  “Winter is such a gift” She said. “People don’t realize they can stay inside and get things done they don’t in the summer.”

     I looked at her in amazement as I realized how right she was.  I have written another article on winter for Cure titled “On Canadians, the cold and cancer “about how the people there have parties and get together to get through the long hard months of ice and snow.

    I typically don’t like winter.  I have a small three season room that I live in 9 months of the year.  I soak in the sunshine and enjoy my dancing solar figures.  I love to gaze up at the stars at night, since I have three sides of complete windows to look out. I am always sad when my television comes inside and the air conditioner is turned off. I love being outside with my fourteen year old service dog talking to my neighbors while she rolls in the grass like a young puppy!  She and I know every single outdoor patio to eat in the entire county.

     Winter brings all of this to an abrupt end.  It is dark at 5 PM.  I hate worrying about sliding around on icy roads and cancelling appointments. I cannot go out in the cold three season room and I seldom see my neighbors. The patios are all shut up with no one eating outside.

     But my friend is right.  There is a lot to be said for some advantages of winter. Unfortunately, I don’t have a fireplace, but I enjoy curling up on my loveseat and turning off the overhead lights when watching televisions.  I have a beautiful handmade wooden tree and I change the decorations for each season.  It is lighted up and features the blue snowflakes and ornaments, making my little apartment cozy and fun.  I have flickering candles all over and it feels comfortable.

     I do get more writing and tasks done in the cold months. It is much easier to sit in front of my computer to write when it is dark. Sometimes I go to the nearest coffee shop and write by the hour.  Did you know that J.K. Rowling of the famous Harry Potter series wrote her books at a local café? If she can do it I can!  I love going to bed with my electric blanket with my cat curled up on my feet.  It isn’t always a bad thing to cancel appointments or dinner with friends and just stay inside.  On cold mornings I like to make hot chocolate and look outside to see the snow falling.  I realize of course I can do that being retired.   I do remember when I was working how terrible it was to get up and go to work battling snow and drifts. But it also it was a thrill to get home safe and sound and not go out again.

     Someone once told me there are more authors who live in cold climates than warm ones, and I feel there is a reason door this.  Winter is also a good time to clean out basements, attics and closets.

     I am sick of the darkness and by March am reaching out for the light again.  Knowing spring is coming keeps me going, and realizing the grass comes up again gives me hope for eternal life for all of us.

     Every cancer survivor has gone through dark and terrible winters with chemo treatments, side effects and pain. But when we see these flickering lights which are friends and family, it means the world to us.  We also cherish the light of spring even more – perhaps the end of a treatment or a cure.

     Sometimes with the disease, we enjoy staying home and do not feel like facing anyone. However, often the day comes when we are ready to go out again.  We look back on the winter, marvel at getting through it and absorb spring into every bone in our body with gratitude.

     Winter is a gift that gives us more time to ourselves and that prepares us for the light again.  My wise friend is absolutely right!