I know that I am one day behind in discussing my gratitude during the month of giving thanks but I really wanted to contemplate this one before I put it into words. I have a tremendous amount of gratitude this year which I know is an outcome of the perspective that has been given to me. I will stop short of saying that I am thankful for the cancer because we are never, ever thankful for the cancer. I have suffered too much and seen others suffer even more to ever say that this or any cancer is a gift. But the suffering and the perspective are their own gifts, in their own ways, and for them I am grateful.
So here is what I am filled with gratitude for right now:
It might come as no surprise that my husband is the greatest of all time. If you know Andrew, you know this is true. Andrew has been the kind of partner that every cancer patient in the world deserves. He has gone to every single chemo with me except one, when my best friend asked if she could have a turn. He has made dozens of runs to CVS to pick up my latest prescription or symptom reliever. He has listened to me in the midst of my panic, my fear, my anger, my despair and brought me back from the ledge when I needed it. He has let me choose what I need, to cope, to heal, to be, in every moment. He has been goofy and joyful and silly with me and for me almost on a daily basis. He has made me laugh until I cried while lying on the operating table before my medi-port surgery, in multiple emergency rooms, while getting chemo, while in mind-numbing pain and sometimes just moments after coming out of a crushing despair. Most importantly though, Andrew has lived this experience with me, with his whole being. He has allowed himself to go into the fear, the sadness, the anger, the frustration, the joys, the revelations. He hasn’t shut down or shut anything out. He’s doing the hard work right alongside me. I could never have asked him to do that, to come along so completely with me, but he has, without question. Andrew is my greatest source of aliveness and I will be forever grateful that we found each other.
The inner circle
I am grateful for my very closest friends and family, the ones who have traveled long distances to come and be by my side, to take care of me in ways I could never have asked for but really needed, the ones who have sent me something every single week, by mail, by email, by phone or by text, a constant reminder of their love and support from a far, the ones who have listened to me as I talked about the hardest, ugliest parts, let me unfold the darkness in front of them and still loved me, the ones who have struggled, some on a daily basis, and whose lives have been forever altered because of the cancer inside my body, the ones who cheer me on the loudest, in whatever way I need to hear the cheering. My inner circle holds me up and carries me through and they are the lights of my life.
My support system
Less than 24 hours after my diagnosis my friends in DC had organized a formal support system to take care of my meals, groceries, housecleaning, etc. Ani, specifically, has been running my support network like a well oiled machine with help from the other founding members: Ilana, Matt, Jessica, John and Kabir. At first, the number of people who joined the support system, who offered to take time out to make sure that we were well taken care of, was unfathomable to me. I was, and continue to be, constantly surprised and deeply humbled by the outpouring of support from this group. I always knew I had incredible friends, but the time, energy and care they have put in to making my life easier over the last few months has been overwhelming. Most recently my support group came together and fund raised for a Vitamix, the mother of all blenders (in case you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing one in all its blending glory). It has made throwing together a healthy (and easily digestible) meal incredibly easy and the swiftness with which they made it happen left me in awe of the generosity of this group once again.
In particular it has been incredible to see how much my support system has been bolstered by my co-workers. I already knew I worked for an incredible organization with a bunch of bright, committed and compassionate people but my co-workers have given me so much more than I ever could have asked for, or expected, from their extra sick days so I can heal at home, to grocery runs, dinners and nights out.
And my formal support system has not been the only one. My grad school friends rallied very early on and raised funds which help us offset some of our big medical bills upfront. My high school volleyball team sent me the biggest and most amazing care package ever. Countless family members and friends and friends of friends and churches and groups have sent me absolutely countless gifts and cards and messages and I only wish there were enough hours in the day to say thank you to all of them.
My medical team
I would be remiss if I did not share my gratitude for the human beings who are currently working to save my life: the doctors with whom I am placing all of the trust I have to muster and the nurses who take care of me and try to make it all as bearable as possible. Ultimately I also have gratitude for all of the minds and lives and humans whose efforts has resulted in the chemotherapy drugs, the surgical techniques and the radiation that will save my life. I am grateful to live in a place and time and to be in a position to get this medical care and I am trying not to take any of it for granted.
All of you
I can’t tell you what it means to me that someone is listening, and reading, and interested in my little corner of the internet. I have been totally and completely blown away by how quickly this little space that I carved out for my own peace of mind has become something that people read and return to and keep up with. On average this site gets several hundred views every day. That is totally crazy to me. My only goal here is to be authentic and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have so many people coming here to witness my attempts to do that. If any of you has ever taken anything away from my blog it has been my great privilege to give it.
I am grateful for this. I am grateful for this moment. I am grateful for this day. I am grateful for this body. I am grateful for this life. I am grateful.