Humble Holiday


Short days, cold wet weather, lots to do and heaps of added responsibilities … as if there wasn’t enough on your plate already! December and the run up to the holidays is crazy time, let’s face it. All the more important to keep your calm, find your breath, and laugh at the world going nuts all around you. It really is humorous and yet lovable from our cancer perspective. Holiday stress is normal and it’s not a bad thing. Living is stressful by definition. Stress shapes our lives, drives us to learn, provide, produce … and shop! It’s how we manage stress that defines our outlook on life. We build up a toolbox full of skills and resources that allow us to cope and even thrive in life after a cancer diagnosis.

You know it too well: life is humming along just fine when all of a sudden you or a family member is hit with a cancer diagnosis … whoa, now that is stress on a whole new level. It just blows your life apart. All of your prior concerns and daily toiling are no longer important (but they don’t go away). All of your energy is now focused on dealing with the Big C.

I know this first hand as I am a stage IV oral cancer survivor. Two years ago I plowed through that horrific trifecta of surgery, chemo and radiation therapy. That seriously put my life coping skills to the test. I was just barely holding down the fort as it was. Time to discard old ineffective coping skills and explore/embrace new methods of gaining strength and staying healthy. Enter: Wellness Within. I was fresh out from radiation and still barfing when a friend referred me to this lovely Craftsman Style home at 609 Oak Street in Roseville. That was a fortunate and life-improving event for me. The folks there helped put my toolbox in order and I keep coming back to attend classes. As in all of life, you never stop learning … to cope.

One weapon I now use to keep the stress trolls at bay is to seek a complete temporary life disconnect. I know what you’re thinking … drugs. Well, no … it’s snowshoeing, or mountain biking, or hiking, or walking along the river. Okay … for some of us that list might include shopping. Your task this week is to go outside and do whatever you are able to do that requires your entire focus of attention. Shift your mind, by necessity, completely away from your worries for one hour. Do some relatively safe activity that is exhilarating and requires your full attention. I guarantee you will return home recharged and ready to take on the holiday. Time well spent. Still smiling from your adventure and with your attitude adjusted, you will be able to focus on the most important gifts of this season: family and friends. Now you are living!

Jeffrey Clayton About Jeffrey Clayton

Dr. Clayton, a lifelong outdoors enthusiast, trail hiker and mountain climber, brings to the center an invigorating fresh air experience for anyone whose life has been affected by cancer. As both a cancer survivor and a physician he understands the needs and limitations of those going through treatment, as well as those in the healing phase of recovery. As a volunteer, Jeff enjoys guiding small groups on outings from 1 hour to all day excursions, from local walks along the American River to day-long summit hikes in the Sierra. The goal is to gain a sense of adventure and promote the healing powers of fresh air and majestic scenery. Even a short respite from the emotional fatigue that goes with a cancer diagnosis helps one to gain a sense balance. Dr. Clayton trained in anesthesiology at Stanford University and practices at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento.


  1. Thanks for sharing this story. Really helps to put process of cancer treatment in perspective. Taking time out for yourself, even for an hour a day, renews and refreshes. Good reminder from this survivor’s story.

  2. Good advice Jeff. You are a great inspiration on taking time out for you to reconnect with you. We can get caught up and lose sight of what is really important. Glad to see you doing so well!

  3. I was just contemplating a walk and dreading going out into the cold, then I sat down to read long overdue emails and first one is this! Going for that walk now! Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

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