Friday, November 27, 2009

Gratitude and Cancer

The past year has been a huge roller coaster of emotions, ranging from frustration, fear, sadness, anger, hope, and I don't even know what else.

I wrote the last post about my hubby's and his illness. We finally got a diagnosis. When the neurosurgeon came out of the operating room on November 18, it never occurred to me that he *really* did have cancer. It was in the back of my mind that it might be a reality, but never it *being* a reality. It frightened me and shocked me to hear the diagnosis. It was incredibly devastating to hear.

It's certainly NOT something I wanted to have to tell my husband that night. He wanted to know, and he doesn't want things to be sugar coated. So I did. I said it. It took nearly 4-5 more days before I could say it while he was fully awake. It's in our vocabulary now.

This experience and something else that has happened has led me to want to relay this message.

The word cancer has turned my world upside down. It's an incredibly frightening word because there are so many unknowns about it. Where does cancer come from? Why does it happen? What's the prognosis? What's the treatment like? Will it hurt? Will it make him as sick as I have read? Why are there so many unknowns? How long will it take? Is it safe? I could go on forever, but I think you get the picture.

To those of you who complain on a daily basis that you have no control over your life, or you can't find a job, or you can't buy something you want right now, or that someone is doing something you don't like or whatever minor transgression has been placed on you, take a second look. Take a second look at the things that you take for granted.

Be grateful for what you do have and for the ability to have that choice. I feel like we have no control. We didn't ask for cancer, we can't control the fact that it's here. But what we can do is control how we think about life now. Regardless of the prognosis, NOTHING is more important than the time you spend with your family.

I lost my mom suddenly in 2007. It was very traumatic for me, and obviously very heartbreaking. I miss her terribly. But, since her death, my perspective has changed tremendously on the idea of gift giving on Christmas. It just doesn't matter to me. Sure, I cherish the gifts hubby or family have given me, but when I think about the gifts, what's behind it matters to me. The hospital where hubby has had his surgery is very close to the college my mom and I went to, and it brings up so many fond memories. The things hubby has given me have also brought fond memories. Whoever stated that kids don't remember the gifts they receive for Christmas or their birthday is right on the money.

I remember a few of the gifts my mom bought me, but I have far, far more memories of the places we went, things she did with us and just silly, random things. The same goes for my hubby. He always gives me a gift, but there is a story to it. Now that our life has changed, something just is different.

I told him that I didn't want anything for Christmas this year b/c I already got it. I wanted him to survive the surgery and more than that, to be able to still walk and talk. I got it. That's what matters to me. We can't control that he does have cancer but I can control how I view it.

We don't what's going to happen, but I intend on looking for things to be grateful for. I intend on spending as much quality time as I can with him. Right now? I am grateful that he is recovering from the surgery so well. I am grateful that he can give me a hug. I am grateful that he loves me despite all of my faults, especially having a hard time NOT sweating the small stuff. I am grateful that I have so many family members who are supporting me through this ordeal and the incredible kindness, and support from Internet friends too.

In short: Be grateful and cherish what you do have. The material things aren't important. The people around you and the memories that you create with those you love are what matter.