My husband and I recently made the familiar journey to MD Anderson again. It was time for another check-up. Since I was diagnosed with stage IV thymoma in 2013, this has become a normal part of our life. We do labs and scans, and then prayerfully meet with doctors, hoping for good news.
These trips always remind me of the frightening reality of cancer. On days like these, I reflect on the lessons I have learned from cancer. There have been so many. They help calm me as I face my appointments.
Lately, I've been focusing a lot on being thankful. I've come to realize that for me, it's not a feeling. It's a choice.
Finding light in the dark times
One of the biggest things I have learned is that thankfulness leads me out of the fear and darkness cancer can bring. As soon as I begin to look for the blessings around me, the darkness fades a little. When I choose to be thankful, my focus shifts and the burden gets a little lighter. I may not FEEL thankful, but when I choose to BE thankful, I find strength for the trial.
There have been many times during my treatment that the emotional roller coaster seemed overwhelming. When you're sick or in pain, it is easy to be swallowed by hopelessness. Thankfulness reminds me of all the good things that have happened in my past. It reminds me that I can have hope for my future.
Some of my most challenging moments were when I was home alone recovering from surgery and chemotherapy. That's when it was most difficult to stay focused. I found it particularly helpful in those times to create a list of things I am thankful for: my family, my friends, my community, my church, my good days, the sunshine, a cozy spot on my back porch, macaroni and cheese (my mainstay during chemo). Creating my lists helped get my mind back on track. As I created my lists, whether mentally or physically, I found my hope restored.
Choose thankfulness even on bad days
So today, I choose to be thankful! I am thankful for the wonderful care I receive at MD Anderson and for my family and friends who love and support me. I am thankful for the days I feel wonderful and thankful that bad days do not last forever.
I don't know where you are today. Maybe life is great today, or maybe it is a struggle. Wherever you are in the journey of life, I hope that you will choose to be thankful. Even on the bad days.