Senior Resources » Chemo at Christmas and Learning Resilience

Chemo at Christmas and Learning Resilience

As a working Boomer, I have experienced many things, but, in particular, this is the time that changed my heart. It happened in a place where I learned the true meaning of life and what it’s really all about; where I witnessed firsthand the spirit of love and hope passing genuinely from one person to the next. This is the part of my life where I learned the most about resilience.

chemo lab during christmas time

This time of year, the shopping malls are crowded – but, so are the medical offices that treat patients with cancer.

It was the week of Christmas and, like any other week, patient appointments were piling up. Except, this week, the physicians’ schedule seemed three times heavier than usual.


The office was decorated cheerfully. The workers were ready. Patients came in to get their treatments before the holidays officially started so they could make this season really count. Myself and the other workers all had our own craziness at our homes. We were getting ready for the holidays too – but, as each patient entered the office, we put it all on hold.

The phones would ring off the hook. The waiting room was perpetually full.

Stress was high in that office for everyone. And, emotions were at their most delicate.

The healthcare workers rushed around doing what they usually did; taking care of each person and accommodating every family.


Patients sat in chemo rooms sharing stories with one another as the workers attended to them. Christmas music played overhead while anxious families waited to take their loved ones home.

Resilence. This is where I learned it.

The workers and their patients were tired – but I never saw one who was giving up. 

There was a job to be done, a life to be touched, and hearts to console.

At the end of the day, one might ask, “who gave the most?  Who received the most?”


To which, I’d reply, “everyone.”

We all laughed. We all cried. We all fought battles.

My coworkers challenged every obstacle and met the test. They gave their all. They gave their best. What group gave the most? I really can not say. Patients came in bearing gifts of homemade cookies, cakes, pies, oranges, apples in crates, and loads of gifts for the health care workers. Some patients wore Santa Claus hats. One even dressed as Santa and carried a bag full of gifts! Desks were loaded with presents from special patients. The ‘thank you’s and well wishes were many.

Hugs and smiles were spread about by everyone.

The spirit of love and hope had overtaken that office. It flowed freely from heart to heart.

So as we rush around during this holiday season, I’d just like you to remember…

Let us not forget these those who fight battles every day.

Let us learn from their example.

Let us fight with them, whether in person or in prayer.

Let us share the love that we have in our hearts.

Let us care and make each day count.

Let us carry in our hearts the meaning of what life is all about.

This holiday season, practice your own resilience. Because, if these special people can, then so can you.

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Originally published December 12, 2022

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