(Lancaster) -- Luminarias are a holiday tradition in many midstate communities. On Wednesday, December 28th, the lantern-like display will raise awareness for the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge in Hershey.

(Philadelphia) -- The holidays can bring out the best and worst in people - including anger and bitterness. One pastor says letting go of negative emotions can actually help people improve their health and even fight cancer.

This holiday season, cancer survivors and family members reflect on how cancer has been a gift in their lives.

Kristin Gilhool and Marc Hirschler inherited a lot from their mother…bright smiles and a zest for life.  But, they also inherited a heightened risk for cancer.

(Hershey, PA)    In an effort to honor and provide HOPE to cancer patients, their caregivers and to all loved ones fighting a cancer diagnosis, The Hope lodge of Central Pennsylvania will light special luminarias during the 1st Annual Lights of Hope Celebration.

The holiday season is usually a happy time.  The hustle and bustle bring excitement to adults as well as children.  But not everyone is joyous.  In fact, for those who have lost a loved one since the last holiday or just recently, the holiday season can a period of profound sadness.

Jen and Jeff Baker have been receiving treatment at Hershey Medical Center for their 17 year-old daughter Jessi since she was four months old.  She was born with Down syndrome, hydrocephalus and a heart disease.  They received some painful news when they took her in for a back problem that just wouldn’t heal.  The doctor sent them to the ER where they were told that Jessi had leukemia.

The Facing Cancer Together  tagline is, "Connecting Stories, Connecting Lives.”  What we've learned since the initiative began last Spring is those diagnosed with cancer battle through their treatments and the changes in their lives with support from family, friends and the doctors and nurses who treat them.  Making connections is a large part of that support.

The death of someone we love is difficult in itself.  The expectations of the holiday season compound that difficulty.  A number of thoughts and plans can help us to get through this hard time.  In the midst of practical considerations, remember that grieving takes energy, so be gentle with yourself and your children.  You don't need to provide the perfect holiday — for yourself, for your children, or for others.

This special Smart Talk and Facing Cancer Together community forum explores what it means to survive a cancer diagnosis and how survivorship presents new challenges and opportunities to patients.

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