Yesterday, an unexpected letter, followed by a Facebook memory, reminded me that June 24th was the one-year anniversary of the last of three surgeries in 2020. I’d known it was coming up, but hadn’t given it much thought. Until I opened the letter from the hospital – letting me know that the National Cancer Survivor’s Day Celebration wasn’t going to be happening this year.
Hmm. First, I had no idea there even was a celebration by that name. And second, I had no idea the hospital celebrated it. Enclosed in the envelope was an invitation to write something inspirational for those currently receiving cancer treatment.
Just reading those words makes me feel kind of like a fraud. My cancers were caught early enough that I didn’t need any sort of treatment beyond the surgeries that removed them from my body. How could my story possibly inspire someone whose cancer wasn’t caught early? How could that make them feel better in the midst of harsh treatments and horrible side effects?
Then, I thought … just because I didn’t have to have chemo or radiation doesn’t make me any less of a cancer survivor. So maybe a gratitude list might work?
- I am grateful that God thought I was worth a second chance.
- I am beyond grateful for my family and friends, and that I get to spend the rest of my long life with all of them.
- I’m grateful for the extremely loud wakeup call, and that now I have time to make my health a much bigger priority than it was.
- I am grateful for my wonderful surgeon, Dr. T, and for all of the others who helped to save my life last year, especially my favorite nurse, Sam. He’s definitely going in a book!
- I’m grateful that I only needed the colostomy for four months, and that the reversal was pretty much textbook perfect. In a support group for people who have had similar experiences, I’ve learned that it could have been so much worse. And so I remain a member, in hopes that I might be able to help or encourage those who need it.
- I’m grateful for my scars. Between the one on the side of my nose, and the ones on my stomach, I joke about being able to try out for Bride of Frankenstein. The thing is, but for these scars, I probably wouldn’t be here today. So they’re a reminder of how blessed I really am.
- I am grateful for the sun that rises every day, for the stars that shine every night, and for music, and chocolate, and books, and bacon. And air conditioning. It’s summer. I can’t forget the air conditioning.
Yeah, I lumped the last seven together, but those are just a few of the things I’m grateful for. That I’m more grateful for than I was before because … well … I survived cancer.
Honestly? I’ve never been able to dance, but this song kind of sums up my attitude about life now. I have a second chance. What a feeling!