November Begins My Month of Thankfulness

I generally begin November by listing, day by day, that for which I am grateful. Some days, the only thing that really strikes me is that I got up that morning or that the sun is shining. Other days, I have a long list of things for which I am thankful.

My reasons to be grateful

Some people think I am crazy when I begin to list the reasons why I am grateful for my current situation. It isn't that I would not rather have never had cancer. No one is foolish enough to wish cancer on themselves or anyone else.

But, I do have it. And, rather than looking at the negatives of being diagnosed with cancer, I choose to look at what positives have come out of my having the disease.

Please, don't send the white coats after me! I realize I have a deadly disease, from which I am likely to never recover. Nevertheless, let's spend a few minutes looking at the positives. After you read my list, let us know if there are any with which you agree or that you can add.

1. I am grateful that I was diagnosed when I was and not 10 years ago.

Had I been diagnosed with stage 4 nonsmall cell lung cancer (adenocarcinoma) ten years ago, it is probable that I would not be here, writing this article. In the last few years, treatment options for those of us with late-stage disease have exploded. In most cases, the treatments are far less toxic and invasive than was available a decade ago. Radiation beams are more targeted, chemotherapies are replaced or supplemented by immunotherapies or targeted therapies, and robotic surgeries can be performed that are far less invasive.

I think, too, that doctors are more likely to involve patients in their treatment decisions. I would not easily accept my doctor simply dictating my treatment to me. I need to feel like I am a valued part of the team.

2. My family and I are closer than ever.

I gained a new respect for my husband of (then) 38 years after I was diagnosed with lung cancer. He really stepped up to the plate, doing the grocery shopping and cooking, and taking over other chores he'd never had to do before. He did it without complaint. He readily turned them back over to me when I felt able, but I won't forget how helped me when I needed it most.

3. I am thankful for the friends I have made.

My cancer diagnosis has allowed me to meet people I would never have met if we didn't share a similar diagnosis. I have met some of the nicest, most interesting people. I count it a blessing that I now count them among my friends.

4. I am happy that the pace of my life has slowed.

I worked one or two jobs since I became an adult. I subsisted on just a few hours of sleep for years and years. When my cancer forced me to retire, my life changed dramatically. I have thoroughly enjoyed living with far less pressure than I had while I was part of the workforce. We don't have nearly as much money as we did when I worked, but the peace and calm of not having to go to the workplace every day make up for financial sacrifices.

5. I have been given opportunities I would have never had otherwise.

Because of my diagnosis (and treatment), I have gotten to participate in news stories, informational videos, articles, radio shows, and a variety of panels and forums. I've have gotten to travel all around the eastern United States, visiting cities and states I've always wanted to see but had never had the opportunity.

What about you? Can you look at your cancer diagnosis and find any sunshine?

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