It’s begins with Thanksgiving, a day, an hour or a few minutes to give thanks. But how does one do that when our health (or of a loved one) is being challenged? Can we dig deep enough inside to find reasons to be thankful and joyful this Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season? We may not always be happy, but we can be thankful!
I always thought of myself as a glass half full kind of person. One who could always find a better
way or reason to overcome a challenge and turn a difficult situation into a successful or happier one. I’d like to say that I was like that because of my youth however I don’t think I’d call 58 my “youth’ any longer, even if I did want to believe I was still pretty young at heart and mind!
At 58 my fourth diagnosis of cancer definitely changed me! You see my first three diagnosis I still tried to stay positive, thinking I’m 37 and a breast cancer diagnosis that I’ll treat with lumpectomy will be ok. I”ll take care of it and move on with the rest of my life ahead. Same at my 2nd diagnosis at 39! I mean two times so I must be done! But at 48 when diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, I was beginning to get a little more doubtful, especially when I learned I carry the BRCA2 genetic mutation. So I proceeded with a variety of treatments and surgeries only to get to 58 and be diagnosed again! As you can understand, it became very difficult to stay positive about what my life ahead might actually be.
So this Thanksgiving, 2 years after my last diagnosis and post mastectomy, chemotherapy and new medications I need to take the time to reflect on what I can be thankful for. Some days, it’s easy for me to feel sad, disappointed and very scared. From the sleepless nights, the days filled with fatigue, the discomfort from multiple surgeries and the challenges my body and mind feel overall to the fear of recurrence as metastatic cancer it’s what I live with daily. But this doesn’t mean that it’s what I should focus on!
No, I can’t and won’t let cancer define who and what I am. I push myself each day physically, mentally and emotionally with my full time work, my nonprofit organization, myself, my family and my friends to make the most out of each day. Some days that’s very hard and others not as much so on the better days I do all that I can and when there are the sad days, I also let myself have those as well.
As the holiday season begins, if you can find 5 minutes, 5 hours or a whole day where you are feeling like you can take a breath and enjoy some of life, then take it and be thankful. Be in that moment and enjoy it while you can.Take the moment to reflect on what you do have or can do. Think about all the advancements that have been made in medicine and hopeful of the many more on the horizon. Thank those around you who understand and support you, especially during the difficult days.
I am not a ‘survivor” of cancer, I am ‘cancer surviving” and to me that means I’m winning at life each day, and for that I am very thankful and happy.
Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving
Modeh Ani- I Am Thankful
Vicki Singer Wolf,
Co Founder of HIS Breast Cancer Awareness