Ways to Remember Those You’ve Lost During the Holidays #CTCA

I have received compensation for this post as part of a promotional program with CTCA and MomSelect. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

Ways to Remember Those You've Lost During the Holidays #CTCA

We lost my dad is renal cancer a year and a half ago. Holidays can be particularly hard when remembering those you’ve lost. When I think back to the last Christmas we had with him (in 2013), it’s a bittersweet feeling. We knew at that time that he wouldn’t be with us to celebrate another one. Surprisingly he hung on and didn’t pass until April 5th. But certainly each time the holidays come around, his presence is greatly missed.

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During the holiday season, how do you remember those you’ve lost?

Here are some ideas of how include the memories of those you’ve lost this holiday.

  • Serve one of their favorite holiday dishes.
  • Light a candle in their honor.
  • Get out the old family albums and take the time to reminisce.
  • Ask family members to write down their favorite memory of that person. When we asked our family to do this, I heard stories about my dad that I’d never heard before and that helped us deeply in our grief.
  • Decorate a small tree with trinkets or special mementos of your loved one. Or make a single ornament in their honor to hang on your tree.
  • Consider a donation to your loved one’s favorite cause or charity.
  • Talk about them. Sometimes the hurt is so bad that we are afraid to bring up old memories but talking about those that have passed helps with that pain. It’s wonderful to recall special memories from years past when our loved ones were still with us.

My Story

My dad’s symptoms started in 2002. The doctor’s discovered that he had a blocked kidney that was causing urinary troubles and the kidney was removed. Cancer was never discussed. Five years later he started to have some health concerns and after a body scan it was discovered that he had small cancerous spots on his lungs and spine. The doctor explained that during the kidney removal surgery, cancerous cells had gotten into the blood stream and metastasized onto other spots in his body. Though the cancer was now growing in other locations, it was still considered “renal” or kidney cancer. These cancerous spots were only the size of a dot from the tip of a pin but they were in multiple places throughout the body, so the doctors said they were inoperable.

My love for Disney started with my dad.

My love for Disney started with my dad.

My dad was placed on a daily radiation medication and he was given a diagnosis of one year to live. We braced ourselves for the worst. And a year came and went. Then another year. And another. He continued taking the daily radiation medication and the cancerous spots stabilized. It had some nasty side effects (blisters on his feet and tongue, scaly skin and rash) but he was still with us. In early 2013, doctors said that the medication was no longer effective and my dad started chemotherapy. He had one single treatment before coming down with pneumonia. Then came a transitory stroke. He was never strong enough to start back any cancer treatments. His health started to decline. Looking back at the time, it seemed like a rapid decline to us, but given that he hung on for over a year after stopping the treatments, it was really quite slow and agonizing. Rough for us and even more hard for my dad, who was in constant pain.


Cancer Treatment Centers of America #CTCA

After so many years in the battle with his cancer, my dad was prepared and ready to stop his treatment. However for those who are still strong enough to fight, there’s the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. There are a number of facilities available across the country with many patients traveling out of state to receive care. Each person’s cancer is unique. That’s why the Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) uses leading technology to aggressively treat cancer. They also offer nutrition therapy, naturopathic medicine, pain management, mind-body medicine, spiritual support nutrition and other therapies, because they know that managing the side effects of cancer treatment is half the battle.

Image from Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Image from Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Though my dad’s personal treatment helped him stay alive longer than expected, the side effects on his body and mind were brutal. I think often if we’d been able to keep him healthier longer if nutrition therapy and mind-body medicine had been used. Knowing that the Cancer Treatment Centers of America treats the whole person and not just the cancer,  I am relieved in knowing they are helping so many others in their battles.

For those of you fighting, my thoughts and prayers are with you. And for those of you who are dealing with loss, know that through the pain there are the memories. I pray that you find peace during the holidays and can choose one of these special ways to celebrate those who have passed.


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