Abigail Passamaquoddy ahead ahoy!
Th reporter who did an article on Becky and I her marathon for LLS wanted me to write a guest article follow up for the paper this week. Here it is.
The first thing I express here must be gratitude. Thank you, those who came to the Dexter Pub on April 26 to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on my behalf. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
I’ve learned a lot over the past 18 months through my experiences with cancer, and a good number of those lessons were about gratitude. On my first day of chemotherapy, I shed tears of gratitude to discover that my disease had not yet progressed to my bone marrow. On my last day of chemotherapy, I shed tears of gratitude that my family was with me to take care of me – because for the first time in a long time, I couldn’t take care of myself. But most of my lessons in gratitude weren’t based on personal experience. Most of what I learned on giving thanks came from the wise and wonderful people I met throughout my cancer journey.
I met fellow patients who had been through treatments so harsh and so long-lasting I was certain I couldn’t have withstood them. My new friends were truthful about their pain, their fatigue, and their frustration, but they were also truthful about their daily experiences – and their daily experiences were filled with joy. I and my friends discussed our gratitude – for small things, such as ginger to ease nausea or a new book by a favorite author, and for large things, such as a first visit to the Grand Canyon or a new grandchild’s laugh.
I met caregivers who had joined the field of oncology because of a personal experience – occasionally a cancer experience of his or her own, but more often, a pivotal life event such as the loss of a loved one to cancer. As these caregivers shared their histories with me while placing a needle or administering a drug, I realized that the stories they told might elsewhere be considered sad or discouraging, but that here as a part of cancer treatment, they were expressions of hope and of thanksgiving. A particularly dear nurse once said to me: “Why, everything I do is grateful – grateful I can help.”
When disaster looms large, it seems that gratitude springs up in its shadow. A dark cloud may shade our days, but it also may help us to see joys and triumphs that could have been missed in the bright busy light. With my eyes newly attuned, I’ve been able to find gratitude blooming everywhere – and I was especially overwhelmed by it last Sunday as I looked around the restaurant and found myself surrounded by warmth and support.