There’s a group of men struggling with advanced prostate cancer who know, for certain, this is their last celebration of the holidays on this side of heaven.
Folks who are healthy don’t think this way. They assume they have many more holiday seasons in their future.
The fact is, there is a significantly larger number of healthy folks who won’t be alive next year for the holidays than there are men with advanced prostate cancer who won’t be around.
Given that reality, my advice is the same whether you have terminal cancer or you don’t: Live every holiday celebration as if it were your last.
Ask yourself: If this is my last holiday season, what are the most important things I want to say and do with my life, with my friends, my family and my partner.
As I look back on the 40 years of my professional career, I’ve been blessed. I’ve had a run as a medical, psychiatric and adoption social worker. I’ve owned and operated two successful businesses, I’ve written dozens of articles about prostate cancer, spoken at conferences, written two award-winning books, and I’ve reached tens of thousands of folks coping with prostate cancer through my online ministries.
On a personal side, I’m blessed that I celebrated my 37th wedding anniversary this year. Together, we raised four amazing kids. We are grandparents to three young granddaughters. I’m a 7-year prostate cancer survivor. My cup runneth over with blessings.
Even so, like everyone else, I carry within me my own family history of regrets, hurts, dysfunction, broken relationships, disappointments and loss.
These hurts and loss can tip the scale in such a way that, as the holidays approach, you’re filled with sadness, grief and physical or psychological pain.
Folks who are chronically or terminally ill, grieving or depressed may feel a heightened sense of isolation and loneliness the entire holiday season.
Widows, widowers, kids who’ve lost their parents through death or divorce, parents who’ve lost their children, caretakers and the terminally ill are all vulnerable to experience a heightened sense of sadness or grief during this season.
Here’s good news. You don’t need health or wealth to give your family gifts of love.
In Gary Chapman‘s book The Five Love Languages, he identifies five ways people prefer to receive love. Of the five languages, four do not require spending money. The five are:
- Quality time.
- Words of affirmation.
- Acts of service.
- Physical touch.
What if I told you I just received a gift that cost my son nothing to send, but it was so valuable to me that I wouldn’t trade it for a million dollars? Are you curious about the gift?
My son gave me his permission to share his gift to me, with you. He sent this text message:
“Hey, Dad. I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you and your decision to follow Christ after all you went through as a young man.
I’m sorry for everything you went through with your family, but am deeply grateful towards God for calling you to be His servant.
Your decision has shaped my entire life and my future, and my family’s future, so thank you for listening to Jesus’ call when Ryan (my oldest son) was born.
I love you and am glad you are my dad.”
I was wiping away my tears before I finished his text. My son gave me this gift in one of my primary love languages, which is “words of affirmation.” I will cherish his gift all of my days.
I consider living out my faith in such a way that it was passed on to all four of my children as the greatest achievement and blessing of my life.
Re-read the five love languages. If you know someone’s primary love language, give a gift that speaks to his or her preferred language of love.
If your health or financial situation makes giving difficult, this holiday season, you can offer oral or written affirmation (it can be dictated, if you’re unable to write) of your love, affection or appreciation to your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors.
If you doubt the value of that gift, remember, I wouldn’t trade my gift for a million dollars.
Give and receive love and joy this holiday season. Anything else you give is icing on the cake.
May you, your family and loved ones have a blessed Christmas, Hanukkah and Happy New Year.
Note: Prostate Cancer News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Prostate Cancer News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to prostate cancer.