Being Thankful to Cancer

Photo by Majid Rangraz on Unsplash

Photo by Majid Rangraz on Unsplash

Western medicine has us wanting to "fight" our cancer. "Win the battle," we say. But in this time of Thanksgiving, I want to share another concept - why I'm thankful to cancer. I no longer see cancer as an enemy, but a damaged part of myself that needed to be healed.

I'm thankful for the wake-up call to find my purpose, to discover my true dreams, finally love my family fully and live my right life.

Cancer pulled me kicking and screaming into the present moment. I could no longer live for a future tomorrow when I was more financial stable, had more time to travel, wasn't as stressed and tired. When I was diagnosed with a cancer that doctors said was "incurable," I was forced to live in today. A messy today with deadlines, responsibilities, money woes and bickering about how noisily my husband eats nuts while we're trying to watch a movie in the living room. Cancer gave me the gift to be fully present.

Cancer forced me to look around and see how wonderful my life really was. With a new perspective, I saw that I had been living on a hamster wheel of complacency and ambition. Suddenly, I wanted to stop all the madness, pettiness and numbness. My heart, my body, my mouth screamed, "I love my life. I want to stay. I'm here."

Cancer brought out the best of my friends. The cream rose to the top. Those who loved me showed up in ways I never would have thought possibly: making me laugh during chemo, feeding me and my family, raising money to help with my medical expenses, praying endlessly for my recovery, to name a few things. Sure some people sank to the bottom of the barrel by letting me down. That's okay. Not everyone is meant to rise at the same time for the same reasons. I'm sure someday they will rise to the right occasion for them. But for the people that stepped up for me, I'm grateful that cancer showed me who really loved me. I never would have felt the outpouring of love and support without cancer.

I'm ready for the next chapter. I'm ready to remain cancer-free for the rest of my long natural life. But in this week of Thanksgiving I must acknowledge the most terrifying part of my life — my brush with death — has profoundly reshaped me and made whatever time I do have left much better.

Of course, I wish I hadn't need a life-ending prognosis to wake me up. But I pray — and I do pray a lot now as part of healing — that my wakeup call will serve as a wakeup call for other people caught in the haze and the hype of an overstimulated, commercial Standard American Life.

I'm thankful you took the time to read this. May it help you see the joy in your own life this week. Don't wait till the time is right to start living for today. You have enough money. You have enough time to do what you love. You are beautiful and perfect enough just as you are. Your kids are old enough to allow you to have fun too. Whatever you use as an excuse to live for tomorrow, consider giving it up and just be present in a messy today.

Don't wait to be thankful to something like cancer to wake you up. Consider this your alarm bell to be thankful for what you today.

Happy Thanksgiving.

In light and love,