A few people have told me that they wish they could take my place, and that is a very sweet and earnest sentiment. That said, of all the people I know, of all the people I respect and love, there is not one of them with whom I would trade places. No one should have to go through this. I am not glad this happened to me, but if a fairy godmother said I could swap situations with anyone in my life, I would still pick myself.
Disease takes a lot of things away from you, and gives you a lot of things that you don’t want. I don’t want to hear the worry in my parents’ voices when they talk to me about what’s next. Though I am thankful that I have such a strong support network of family and friends around me, I don’t want to have to rely on other people to cut my food up for me or help me open doors or help me into my clothes or remind me to take pills. I’m tired of forgetting what day it is and being unable to keep up with conversation. I want to drive a car and pick up my dog and go on a long walk.
I am not thankful for this disease, but it has given me something that I didn’t realize I was missing. I needed to be reminded that the people in my life are there on purpose. I needed to stop taking my friends and family for granted, and this disease showed me that.
Yesterday was my third operation in two months, and in this time I have become very thankful for my youth and resilience. I heal quickly. This body is amazing. Look what I’ve put it through, and it still breathes for me without having to be asked.
Through all of this I have learned the meaning of gratitude. I don’t have to go to family gatherings or acquaintances’ birthday parties at that bar I hate. I get to. I don’t have to get out of bed in the morning. I get to.
Yes, cancer sucks. I have felt unimaginable, excruciating pain. I have been to some very dark places. I have cried so much I scared myself. I’ve felt sorry for myself and for my fiancé for dealing with this instead of enjoying our engagement.
But I only get to say these things because I’m lucky. I’m lucky I caught this in time. I’m lucky that I was able to be treated for this. How long could I have waited before it was too late? It’s thoughts like that for which I am grateful. I only get to have the ‘what ifs’ because I lucked out. I am one of the lucky ones, and I will never, ever forget this.
Yesterday my doctor said, “This is not a dark shadow over your life. This is something that happened to you when you were 25.”
And like my grandmother, who beat breast cancer in her 30’s, and is still here 50 years later, I intend to live a long and happy life after cancer. This will simply be that passing shadow that came to show me how to be grateful.
Wishing you all health and happiness,