On this Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, with the Oregon Civil War – Ducks v. Beavers (Go Ducks!) on in the background and a Moscow Mule in hand, I sit here and reflect on the many things in my life to be thankful for. Despite everything I have been through this year, I am more fortunate than many. While it has been hands down the most difficult year in my life, I am alive to live it and see another year. I am cancer free and hopefully will stay that way. I did not have to have chemo so I got to keep my hair; that’s good, while my hair makes me crazy, I am so glad I kept it. I am not sure how I would have rocked the Bald is Beautiful stage.
My support system is wide and deep. My husband deals with the hardest times: when I am sobbing the night before each surgery and the fluctuating moods which come with the surgically induced menopause. He is my rock. My family took turns being with me after each surgery, washing and drying my hair, entertaining Jackson and playing with my dog. My friends delivered delicious meals and snacks to my family for months and took Jackson for play dates and weekends so I could rest. My dog would not leave my side and gave me comfort and snuggles and did not care when I held tight and cried into his fur. Friends of friends sent me encouraging quotes.
My medical team is fabulous and dealt with the stupid F’in cancer quickly and expertly. My nurse navigator who has been by my side both in 2013 and 2017 is also a survivor; she knows what I have gone through because she has been there. She is the one who actually gave me my diagnosis this year and I was so comforted by her despite learning that I had a new cancer occurrence. I ask her all of my random questions and she allays my fears. The first time I met my plastic surgeon, she told me that we would become close as I would see her a lot more than the rest of my doctors combined and she was right. While she was doing my expander fills, we would chat and talk about life, anything to distract me from the needle in my breast injecting fluid. She used her skills to create my new breasts and some pretty great cleavage. Unless you see me naked and the scars which cross my chest, you would never know what I have been through. The naturopath who has been doing my acupuncture and cupping and the massage therapist who has been working on the range of motion in my arms are my new best friends. I am in the office at least 3 times a week and it is a place of healing and relaxation for me. I never thought I would look forward to weekly acupuncture, yet here I am.
I am thankful for the wonderful new people I have met this year. I have started to volunteer my time at Breast Friends, a support organization for those with breast, ovarian and other women’s cancers and their families. So far, I have been helping with very basic data entry, getting out mailings and helping for an open house, and I hope they are going to utilize my skills for other things going forward. Everyone I have met who works for the organization or volunteers are fantastic people. It just feels so good to have somewhere to go where I can help others and give back. A bonus is that it is 1 mile from my house. Jackson has also started as a Cub Scout and we have hosted a couple of den meetings. He is thriving in the activities and has made new friends; I have also made new parent connections and am enjoying helping out. Today we walked the neighborhood near his school and handed out bags for holiday food donations for those in need. I will probably end up as a leader next year; I have a hard time letting anyone else be in control. 🙂
I am beyond blessed with life’s basic necessities. We have a lovely home and amazing neighbors. Nice cars which take us where we need to go and where we want to go. Food on our table and time and money to go out. Family that we actually enjoy and plenty of friends to spend time with. I am so fortunate that I am able to be at home and not work while Jackson has been young and I have fought cancer. I appreciate it all and know exactly how lucky we are. Yes, we have both worked very hard for the material things in life, but we have also worked on our relationships. You have to be a good person to be surrounded by good people. It all takes work, but it is very worth it.
Tonight, I am thankful for Christmas lights and to be right here to see another holiday season. Yes, we are those people with the blow-ups. There are more decorations in the garage which need to be added, but the rain started and I think we ran out of extension cords and multi-plug thingies. I am not sure how thankful our neighbors are, but Ho Ho Ho!
I am thankful for it all.