Thanksgiving. Like many, I will spend the day gorging myself on way too much food, planning out my strategic holiday shopping attack, and beginning what will be a very busy month of Christmas movies and music (I’m a Jew who collects Virgin Mary things only semi-ironically, what can I say?). But more than any other year, I am spending today reflecting on the things I have to be thankful for.
1. My life. I am lucky to have had a very treatable form of cancer, but, as they always tell you, statistics aren’t everything. I am thankful every day to have another day, even as I feel uncomfortable in my swollen body, out of breath from my tattered lungs, and not quite so sharp from my brain fog. These too will pass.
2. My darling cancer crowd lifts me up whenever I am stressed out, worried, or feeling lost. As much as others try (and some of you try so hard and I cannot begin to express my appreciation), the friends I have made through our common cancer bond get it. They get every fear and worry – no matter how real or ridiculous or vain. I am sorry that we had to meet in these circumstances, but I am so glad to have all of you in my life.
3. My friends, both the ones I have made and the ones I have kept. A few groups get special Thanksgiving shout outs: I tell everyone that I have the best coworkers in the world, but their never ending support and understanding in the past year is the best testament to that. The Cambervillians (and outskirts) are the first people I have met in my entire life that I feel accept me when I am entirely open (and sometimes over-sharing) – I never thought I would find people who I would feel comfortable discussing so much that I always have kept private. Letting go has been good for me (and I’m super excited to be roasting a turkey for all of the carnivores for Thanxkcdgiving on Saturday!).
4. The loss of the dead weight. There are many people who I once called a friend who disappeared. A dear friend warned me of this at diagnosis, but nothing can prepare you for the way people act when you are diagnosed with a life threatening disease. There are former friends and forever family who I realize are absolutely not worth my time, energy, concern anymore. It’s a healthy progression.
5. I’m Too Young for This! Cancer Foundation and SAMFund. These organizations have helped me make sense of this disease, have given me the tools to empower myself, and have given me a sense of what could be. Matthew Zachary and Sam Eisenstein Watson (the founders, respectively) serve as a constant inspiration and reminder that my dreams are not destroyed, just redirected and refocused. I am especially thankful to Sam for allowing me to develop my nonprofit development skills with the SAMFund as a test lab. The more practice I get writing for causes I am passionate about, the better prepared I am to freelance for organizations professionally and convincingly.
6. The Hodgkin’s Lymphoma support forum (which also has an active NHL forum). If you found my blog because you were searching the internet for answers, advice, or support about Hodgkin’s, please make your way here. The people here have been there (no matter where “there” is) and are incredibly patient and empathetic while answering any question you may have or just responding to a call for help. I have met many wonderful people there.
7. Brandeis. I say it often: Brandeis is the gift that keeps giving. People I didn’t even know in college have reached out to me to offer their thoughts and prayers. I have been able to start graduate school and even in this tumultuous time, I am given the tools and chance to succeed. That’s to say nothing of work and the amazing people I have met through the office. My 4 years as a full time student, 1 year of a staff member, few months as a grad student, and forever as an alumna of this wonderful school on a hill has shaped the way I think and the way I respond to problems in a way that I truly do not believe would have been cultivated anywhere else.
Hope you all have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving!