This essay was originally published on November 26, 2014.
It’s the day before Thanksgiving as I receive my twelfth chemotherapy treatment, and I guess I should be gushing about how thankful I am for all the good things in my life. I do have many things to be thankful for, but right now, I’m tired and grumpy, and thinking about so many other things I’d rather be doing than sitting here yet again, accessed, bagged, and dripping.
Let’s get the gratitude out of the way just so I don’t feel like a selfish bitch who wants the world to feel sorry for her because she willingly hacked off her boobs and submitted to aggressive post-surgical chemotherapy. Remember, I still have six weeks of radiation to look forward to, and I’m sure there will be plenty to bitch about when that gets rolling.
I am grateful for the excellent care I’ve received from all the doctors and nurses I’ve encountered. I’m also grateful for the Affordable Care Act, without which, I never would have known that there was cancer in my body.
I am grateful for the people who now populate my life, both in person, and in the electronic void. I have never experienced the kind of support and empathy I’ve gotten from people whom I know only within the confines of my laptop. There are many theories floating around about how social media can make you feel loserish when you view too many carefully curated, “shiny, happy” posts and photos in your news feed. Personally, I have never felt more embraced and cared for than right now. It just goes to show that the people you are tied to genetically don’t always turn out to be the individuals capable of offering the love and support you so desperately need when you go through something like this. It is at once fascinating and a little sad to come to terms with that. Ultimately, once you manage to put convention aside, you feel damn good knowing there are people out there who care, even if they’re not with you physically.
Lastly, I am grateful for one person who has stood by me through all this, with love and humor, the likes of which I’ve never experienced before. I haven’t been the modeliest of model patients, and this person has put up with all manner of crap I’ve dished out since this all started. I won’t name names, but that person knows I’m talking about him/her. Things would have been exponentially more difficult had I not landed in this person’s life when I did. ‘Nuff said.
Tomorrow I’ll be cooking a turkey breast and various other things to express the gratitude I feel. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that to “give thanks” has taken on an entirely new meaning. In years past, there was a facade of gratitude in my life. This year, that gratitude is genuine. And it has nothing to do with football, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or anything material. It’s all about taking life one day at a time and trying to live it the best way I know how. I wish more people would feel that way, and I know it is something many of us must come to realize in our own time. It shouldn’t take a life-changing event to adopt that mindset, but unfortunately, one is usually involved. Either way, some of us get there, and some of us never do.