The holiday season: sharing joy with loved ones


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The holiday season holds a very special place in the hearts of many and is often symbolized by unique themes and activities that make a home feel more like home. For individuals who have experienced cancer, these unique traditions and practices can help them embrace the season's positivity and enjoyment. However, gathering with loved ones and navigating sensitive conversations can present challenges during what should be a celebratory time.

Life on Pause is a podcast created by and for young adults living with cancer. On this holiday edition of the show, guest speakers answer the question, “the holidays are not the holidays at my house without _____.” The episode provides cancer survivors with the opportunity to open up about the parts of their holiday season that they hold near and dear and explain their methods for sharing joy with loved ones.

Listen to cancer survivors discuss the unique ways that they experience the holiday season:

Guests describe what makes the holidays in their homes unique (0:54)

At the beginning of this episode, each guest speaker introduces themselves and tells listeners about the holiday traditions and experiences they hold dear.

Guest speakers include Lauren, a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma survivor; Sammy, a thyroid survivor; Chisara, a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma survivor; Abby, an acute lymphocytic leukemia survivor; and Emily, an ovarian cancer survivor.

Preparing to address sensitive subjects (3:34)

The host describes the anticipation of spending time with family and loved ones over the holidays this year and how cancer survivors and patients can prepare for difficult conversations. She encourages listeners to have a system for addressing topics they may not wish to discuss, like health, cancer symptoms, and COVID-19.

Communicating about health news and topics (4:43)

The guest speakers provide examples and anecdotes to describe the different situations they navigate in sharing sensitive information with their social circles. Each speaker reveals a brief glimpse into the unique social constructs within their lives as they explain their methods for sharing sensitive news and addressing uncomfortable topics.

In addition, each of their stories sheds light on the differences and similarities among people who all share this same health experience, the difficulty of disclosing this type of information during gatherings for “happy” holiday occasions, and the emotions involved with confronting sensitive topics.

Strategies for handling uncomfortable discussions (7:48)

While inquiries from loved ones may be out of concern, prioritizing your mental wellbeing is important. The host describes her strategies for confronting uncomfortable conversation topics during the holidays and diverting attention away from these subjects if need be. She asks her guests to share their tactics, and each speaker provides personal examples of how people experiencing cancer can handle these tricky situations.

Guests give thanks to their supporters and loved ones (9:44)

The support from others can be highly beneficial for people who have experienced a cancer diagnosis. The host provides the guest speakers with the opportunity to thank their cancer support community and the people in their lives who have provided them with assistance, companionship, and care. Each speaker takes the time to share appreciation and gratitude for the members in their lives.

39 episodes