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.


Austin’s Barton Creek Greenbelt


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.


9 thoughts on “Gratitude

  1. Wow! Ivanna, this was beautifully written. How appropriate to post this during this thankful season. I can see that the Great Giver is drawing all of us closer to Him, if we will not resist.
    Your words touch my heart greatly and bring tears to my eyes as I think about the terrible cancer journey, that you were on four years ago. Yes, there is MUCH to be thankful for. I am overcome with gratitude from the bottom of my heart because God has saved your life four times!! How gracious and wonderful is our Father in heaven!! Now, He needs to heal my singing voice. I would forever be grateful.

  2. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” these miracles call forth the Doxology. What a special post – the photo was superb. The Millers are all so grateful and happy you can still enjoy all these wonderful things and I hope we get to see you all sometime in the not too distant future. Love from all of us

  3. Ivanna: I am so happy that you are surviving this terrible disease. It helps me with Jim’s death that someone is making it. Have a blessed holiday season. You deserve it.

  4. Amazing, Ivanna! I like your list of the things that you are grateful for…really when it comes down to it, they are the simple things in life we often don’t think to appreciate. Miss you!

  5. Beautifully said and makes me once again thankful that you are still in our lives. Keep enjoying everyday and thank you for helping me realize how important all the little things we take for granted are.

  6. Well said, Ivanna! When I was really sick, my doctor said to me that maybe I would come out of this terrible sickness with a better life. At the time I thought he was a little crazy, but I now know he was right. Really, my life hasn’t changed, but my appreciation of it has. Like you, I am so grateful to be well. But being sick has also made me appreciate the small gifts I receive every day. It has made me appreciate just being normal. I make a conscious effort to not lose that feeling of gratitude. Life is so, so good! Thanks for being my friend!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s