Today, November 30, 2014, is my FOURTH anniversary with NED (no evidence of disease) after my journey with appendiceal adenocarcinoma. I still find it miraculous to be on the planet.
Each year, the days leading up to Thanksgiving are especially reflective for me. Thanksgiving is when I definitely stop to take inventory of what I have and what I don’t have. No cancer!
This weekend, I went hiking with my family and my best friend along the Barton Creek Greenbelt, listening to the laughter of my kids, the water rushing over the creek bed and breathing in the cool fall air. My daughter had a huge grin on her face as she “accidentally” got soaking wet along with my dog as they tromped through the water. (A couple of weeks back, the creek was dry as a bone.) The late afternoon sun lit up the changing yellow leaves on the trees, making them appear as bright gold.
As I walked along the rocky trail with limestone cliffs rising up on one side, my mind wandered back to the days during cancer treatment when I was pretty sure that I would never hike again. That I would never get outside to see the beauty of nature on my own two feet. That I would might not get to see my kids grow up or spend a large chunk of life growing old with my husband, family and friends. Crushingly painful days.
After four years, the fear that I would never do or see these things has diminished although it never completely goes away. I do have an upcoming eight-month check-up at M.D. Anderson. But it feels as if I’ve traded pain and fear for appreciation and gratitude for every little thing:
- a morning cup of coffee with my husband
- a walk with my dog on the hike ‘n bike trail
- goofing with my girlfriends
- watching my youngest daughter create multiple Minecraft worlds
- being there to help my oldest daughter navigate the transition to high school
- being able to support my friends on their various journeys (cancer and otherwise)
- celebrating yet another wedding anniversary
- camping in the Sierra Nevadas again and making s’mores with my kiddos
- hashing out life’s big and little issues with some great friends on a regular basis
- seeking out my spirituality
When things are driving me crazy, I have to stop and ask myself, “does this really matter?” I sometimes have to consciously choose to remember the trade and be grateful for what I have gained.