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Gratitude And Cancer Are Not Mutually Exclusive

By HERWriter
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Having cancer is the most personal of journeys. It rips you down to your core. It chews you up and vomits you out again and again. It’s horrible and frightening and disgusting. But it is also something I’ve learned to live with since I was first diagnosed 22 years ago. I’ve had lots of time to think about my life and how cancer plays a role in it.

With every event in my life I ask myself, what can I learn from this? And with cancer, the hardest lesson has been to learn to live in a state of gratitude. Why, after all, would one be grateful for a horrible disease that kills people too young and, for those who survive, creates immeasurable pain to body and soul?

It is not cancer for which I am grateful, but I am grateful for my life which has revolved around and evolved from cancer. As part of my quest to maintain right thinking, that is to say keeping my mind in a useful and productive place, I have kept a Gratitude Journal (many, really) as a kind of repository of thoughts. Some are simple. Others are very elaborate. But all are lists of things for which I am grateful. Here are but a few:

I’m grateful for having a loving family that has grown with me and cared for me.

I’m grateful for an adoring husband who has been my rock, my partner, my lover…even when things get pretty grim.

I’m grateful for friends who help me laugh during dark days and remind me of good ones.

I’m grateful to live where cancer care is the best in the world, with brilliant nurses, doctors and researchers devoted to fixing the cancer problem.

I’m grateful for our grandchildren who don’t understand cancer and think my infusion port is weird but hug me anyway.

I’m grateful that I live with a sense of purpose, helping others survive this disease as best they can.

I’m grateful that my work with cancer patients allows me to know them at the most intimate moment of their life.

I’m grateful that I am alive. Even on bad days . . . I’m still alive.

And the list goes on. I’ve filled many journals, often recalling the people or events in my life that have given me joy, have taught me to live and laugh, have made me who I am.

Add a Comment15 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I am going to bookmark this post and reread it regularly... it is a good reminder of what we need to pay attention to!

August 20, 2009 - 8:48am

Annette, YOU said exactly what I felt/feel! I am a breast cancer survivor and I give THANKS several times each day for the chances that I've been given and for the chance to make a difference...I can SMILE and say the word CANCER without crying....It is great to be able to have GRATITUTE and to share with others, yes it could be much worse....And as Barbara Wright says in her book METTA - Gratitute over Greed....We are alive and able to be of help/comfort to others...PRAISE and Thanks for sharing and letting others know we do survive with a smile on our faces and in our hearts!

August 19, 2009 - 4:52pm

A Gratitude Journal, what an amazing idea! I will start my own, this very night, and my first entry will include finding this community.
Thank you, Annette...and all you wonderful people out there, posting & reading & replying...thank you all for reminding me of the power of gratitude.

August 19, 2009 - 2:14pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hey Annette: Remember me -you old penpal -susan wright from gainesville florida
You are awesome -as usual!!! I love what you wrote about being grateful! That's been my new word this month -being grateful!! I am also grateful for my husband, family, lots and lots of friends, our YMCA where I spend a whole lot of time doing lots of wonderful fitness classes and strength-train, my loving and great teaching church -and now: my cancer recurrence gave me the justification & ability to cut my client work to part-time after a lifetime of full-time and do something I've dreamed of but never did -take classes at the University.... I am so excited! Start next week! I love bible, history & political science and will be taking a combo of studies. I found out that as long as my mind is filled to the brim with challenging, exciting and fun stuff the monster keeps from getting in. Keeping physically and mentally and spiritually fit is the answer for me!! And loving and being loved by my family and friends!!
Every day God gives us can be a good day -we can make it better by being grateful!!!!
Ps: today our little support group is going to our teaching hospital & speaking in a class of med students
(i'm in the 3rd phase clinical trial for Avastin; finished the carboplatin/gemzar 3mos ago and am now doing Avastin every 21days till the cancer breaks thru and progresses again) -stuff aint too bad -i've learned to live with the side affects pretty well-doesn't mess with my 2-3hr/day fitness schedule too much
i'm pretty sure this trial will approve Avastin for Ovarian Cancer. didn't go into full remission this time so this trial is a major blessing!! will keep a 2nd recurrence at bay for a while -and although Avastin has side-affects, they're certainly not nearly as troublesome as typical chemo.....
How are you and what are you up to -where are you in your treatments?
Luv Ya
Miss Ya

August 19, 2009 - 5:49am
EmpowHER Guest

I am grateful for having met you at the OCNA conference. We buried my best friend of 40+ years today. I am grateful that she came into my life for a lifetime and not just a season.

August 15, 2009 - 6:46pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for writing. I'm so sorry that you had to lose your best friend. Your note really touched me. I know she was grateful to have you in her life right to the end. My heart is heavy for you. Annette

August 15, 2009 - 8:50pm
EmpowHER Guest

I am a 3 time survivor since 1990. I know what it is like to be the patient, the friend of someone going on this journey, and to be the family member. This is not a fun journey or a journey that I would want anyone to have to take. But having said that, I am grateful that I did not take this journey alone. God, faith, education, medical personnel, family and friends played an important role in my survival. Since 1990 I have been involved with the ACS's CanSurmount Program, and The LINC Program Coordinator (which I helped form at a local hospital) (Listen, Inform, Nurture and Care are not only the motto to live by, but a way of sharing of oneself with others taking this journey). I pray for the day when there will be no more newly diagnosed cancer patients and no family or friends who will be shocked by their loved ones 'news'.

August 15, 2009 - 2:44pm
EmpowHER Guest

we have many lives, and go around many times through thick and thin. life is for the living we go on. do as much as we can, and be thankful... we are still here. remember we aren't the only one, there are more like us, who survive.

August 13, 2009 - 6:49am
EmpowHER Guest

You are a ray of sunshine to everyone you meet, Annette. Your smile is contagious and your spirit is always uplifting. I miss spending time with you, and think of you almost every day. You are the epitome of an "Attitude of Gratitude"
Much Love, Laura

August 11, 2009 - 8:05pm
EmpowHER Guest

And the first line in my Gratitude Journal will be that you call me a friend. I'm starting my GJ tonight! I'm blessed to have you in my life. ~ Phyllis

August 11, 2009 - 7:47am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.