Thanksgiving is a time when we celebrate family, friends and peace. Pumpkin pies and the smell of turkey should be foremost in our minds. Instead, for many of us with cancer, cancer is never far from the fore.
A year ago, my breast cancer journey had just begun. I sat in the waiting room as they were preparing for my second mammogram. I scanned the magazine covers with Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations. In a few hours, they would tell me I needed a biopsy because they saw something that didn’t look quite right.
Cancer has a way of pulling us down mentally, emotionally and physically. Self-pity is uncontrollable for awhile as you navigate your own destiny. But beyond our own cancer bubble, life is constantly moving and changing. Time doesn’t stop for cancer, and being thankful shouldn’t stop either.
I learned I needed a biopsy three days before Thanksgiving. I was terrified because it could benching, or it could be the worst-case scenario. I felt like I had a big blinking question mark over my head. Everyone could see it, but no one had the answers.
How could anyone feel thankful when awaiting diagnosis for a potential cancer? How can you face your loved ones and act as if nothing is happening to you? How do you face the next day? All of these questions and more enter your mind when you’re dealing with cancer. Take a breath and look around you. There are always reasons to be thankful.
When you have breast cancer, many things revolve around internal health and organs. However, part of Thanksgiving is to look outward. Look at the people who love and support you and give thanks. Include the family and friends who don’t know how to handle your diagnosis, but try to be there for you. Be thankful for all of them first. Absorb their love and support like a sponge. Their strength is what will pull you through in the darkest hours.
Be thankful for doctors, oncologists, nurses and medical staff. I know, at first, that having to go to see cancer specialists might make you feel bitter. I always thought about what else I could have been doing instead of discussing cancer treatments. But the medical personnel are essentially the ones who help make you feel better. Their entire goal is to heal your body and calm your mind.
After my double mastectomy, I was in pain I had never experienced before. Nurses kept giving me medicine and muscle relaxers for the pain, but nothing seemed to help. The next day the doctor on call examined me and found a hematoma that needed surgery immediately. He called my doctor, and within minutes on a Saturday morning, he was at my side. They called staff in especially for me because the hospital normally doesn’t operate on weekends. I was very thankful then, as I am today.
Being grateful makes you a happier person, and no matter what your diagnosis there is always a reason to be thankful. Last Thanksgiving, even though I was in fear, I gave thanks. Thanks to the technology of mammograms, ultrasounds and MRIs that can detect cancer. Thanks to the doctors who never gave up until they found an answer. Thanks for my husband who stood by my side every step of the way. Thanks for my parents and siblings who were there and never stopped loving me. Thanks for my children who lit my world with joy. Thanks for my family and friends who supported, listened and loved me. Thanks to the community that prayed, and the doctors who healed.
I hope you will embrace thankfulness this year, no matter where you are in your personal journey.
Note: Breast Cancer News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Breast Cancer News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to breast cancer.