A Christmas with cancer can be tough

BENDIGO resident Teresa Jones knows all too well what it's like to experience a Christmas with cancer.

Ms Jones said Christmas, a time of celebration, could be difficult when you're not feeling your best.

Ms Jones shared her story with the Bendigo Advertiser this week by writing a personal account about her cancer journey.

"Last year on August 1 I was diagnosed with breast cancer," she wrote.

"It was detected without any symptoms having only a sore shoulder.

"When seeing the doctor he asked a few questions and asked to examine me.

"Nothing was found.

"He still wasn’t satisfied and he suggested I have a mammogram and ultrasound."

Ms Jones was then diagnosed with breast cancer.

"Then the journey began to the Surgeon, I was booked in for surgery followed by chemotherapy then by radiotherapy," Ms Jones wrote.

"I guess sometimes it all happens so quickly that it is a bit like being on a rollercoaster.

"For me, I had been involved in the Cancer Council for a number of years volunteering so I knew a little about cancer but not about what you have to go through.

"Having my last chemotherapy on the 30 November, it usually took me a couple of weeks to get over it and, being close so to Christmas, it was challenging."

Ms Jones said people needed to put themselves and their health first.

"Doing Christmas shopping may not be something you can do which normally you enjoy so either put it off until you feel better or, if possible, go on-line and do it that way or forget it till next year when you are better," she wrote.

"Your family and friends will understand or maybe they will shop for you.

"The same with Christmas dinner if you are not up to eating - maybe arrange to have Christmas when you are feeling better so you can enjoy it, everyone will understand.

"Family may suggest to have a picnic or fish and chips if that is what you feel like, it is actually about you this Christmas."

Ms Jones said was lucky to have fantastic support from family and friends.

"But enjoying the Christmas meal was not the same with that horrible metallic taste," she wrote.

"It changes all those Christmas flavours that you love.

"On Christmas Day our Family cricket game was not the same as I couldn’t play...my health professional told me the family would survive this year with out shortbreads and Christmas cake and to think about myself - great advice I think.

"For those that have lost family this year my thoughts and prayers are with you.

"For those of you going through this disease this Christmas be positive and remember there are people out there to help you through you just need to ask.

"For me this Christmas is very special.

"Enjoy your Christmas and be positive next year you will be doing the cooking."

The Cancer Council Victoria has released a new fact sheet 'Coping with cancer over the holiday season'  to help people cope with feelings of loneliness, isolation and sadness.

People can call the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.

The Helpline will be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day but will be open on Friday from 9am to 3pm, December 30 from 9am to 3pm and December 31 from 9am to 3pm.

Answering machine messages will be checked at 10am on weekdays.

People can leave a message to have their call returned by a cancer nurse.

Other support services include: Lifeline on 13 11 14; Grief Line on 9596 7799; online support at cancerconnections.com.au; and Carers Victoria on 1800 052 222.

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