Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Do we really have anything to give thanks about?

It is the time of year where we think back over the events of the last 12 months and give thanks. And I’ve been thinking about it a lot … do I really have anything for which I can be thankful?

A year ago we were unveiling my mother’s headstone, because cancer stole her in January of 2010 (I know, that is beyond the year, but the unveiling was the start). A month later came Kel’s diagnosis and soon we traveled down the road of chemo for 3.5 months, found out it didn’t fully work, tried salvage chemo, that didn’t work, had some salvage surgery and 5 months later (almost) have no idea if that worked. This summer I lost a friend to leukemia, and recently two more friends have heard that dreaded ‘C’ word. Man, cancer really follows me around, doesn’t it?

In the midst of all of that, where can I be thankful? Honestly, this cancer road sux (really sux), and finding the positives can be hard. But I am going to say I do have things about which I can be grateful, and maybe it is just because we’ve had a quiet 4.5 months since the last ‘treatment’ for Kel that I can think this way.

I am going to claim for my own, and hold onto, the positive, and I give thanks for (in completely random order):

-Back pain. Back pain so severe that Kel actually went to the doctor to get the t.c. diagnosis before it kept on going and spreading and we got onto treating it like the beast it is (killing it with poison)

-Miraculous, amazing, wonderful family and friends who supported us, let me/us vent, talked to us, cooked for us … really made a hard situation more bearable.

-Of those, my father deserves a special note of gratitude. He was barely out of the ‘all things cancer’ world when Kel was diagnosed (thank goodness Dad was actually in town with us those days – he helped so much with David), and he has been a rock for us. It can’t be easy for him to hear it all again, see it all again, live it all again, but he has been the wonderful man I know him to be (you have to dig under the sarcastic exterior to find it), and am thankful for. Thank you Dad.

-Finding and becoming part of a group of knowledgeable, supportive, and often humorous new friends in the world of testicular cancer at I didn’t even search for or find this site until Kel didn’t reach remission after chemo, but they have been a wealth of information for me, and I have even been lucky enough to meet a family going through similar events recently. I am so thankful to them for a shared lunch, and a camaraderie that I felt down deep in my soul. I will meet more from that forum in April, and I have recently been welcomed as a moderator to the forum where I am grateful to pay forward the knowledge and life experience I have gained. Thank you.

-Although I really didn’t need it, I am grateful for the reminder of why I do cancer research. Watching mom go through it, and being by Kel for this year has just cemented my resolution to finding new therapies and deepened my commitment to my work.

-And on the note of my work, within this year I was able to interview for a few Assistant Professor positions, and I am thankful to have been offered, and proud and thankful to have accepted the position in Pharmacology at Ole Miss. While it is difficult to be apart from Kel, this is a wonderful new stage of my career, and I truly enjoy where I work, and with whom I work.

-For Kel and David. This last year has not been easy, or especially fun, a lot of the time, but through it all we (Kel and I) have grown closer, learned to appreciate each other more, laughed a bit more than we cried, and, well, Kel put me on a whole new pedestal that I can’t get him to knock me off of. For that part I am not so thankful. David has been good, bad, really bad, and really good all at the same time. It’s been a rough road for him to navigate through Daddy’s illness and to come to grips with so much loss in his young life, but he is doing really well and he has been a shining light at the end of a long tunnel of cancer. Plus he’s cute.

I am sure I will think of more later, and probably add more, but the last one I will say for now is:

-Cancer. Weird, I know, but since it fills at least half of my time, ¾ of my thoughts, and has ruined my diet (well, Dad’s cooking helped with that), I’ve decided to find something positive in it. Within it lies my true nemesis, and having identified that enemy I have a place to channel my violent tendencies (I’m not teaching self-defense here right now, so that channeling is good) … Cancer is tough, but I am more tough. Cancer really sux, but I don’t and I will win this fight. So I am grateful because I know my enemy.

And mostly, I am grateful to you – friends and family, near and far (I know I am totally cheating since I said the above was my last one). I give thanks to being loved.

Happy Thanksgiving, 2011.