Saturday, November 16, 2019

Thankful for Cancer

It's been a while since I've written. For some reason life keeps getting in the way.

The holidays are coming and I'm so unprepared. Things seem so different since cancer came into our lives.

In the past, I'd start planning for Thanksgiving months in advance. I'd write out my menu, do the necessary shopping, put out decorations, and look forward to spending time with family. It was a grand gesture that always paid off but for the past few years, I just haven't been able to "get into it." In fact, I haven't even been the one to host the meal. For the past two years, my middle daughter, Laura, has been gracious enough to do the family meal at her home. It's been a real blessing and has taken so much pressure off of me, but this year, it won't be that way. The meal has fallen back into my lap.

The stress and anxiety over planning for the festivities has been overwhelming, so much so that my sweet husband has stepped in to help. "This year," he said, "I don't want you to have to cook or worry about anything. I'm going to take care of it." I was shocked by his statement and wondered what he was planning. Two days ago, I found out.

After getting off work, Phil stopped by the Honeybaked Ham store. When he came home from work, his arms were loaded with a stack of frozen side dishes. He was so excited as he began to carefully place them on the kitchen counter. "I picked up some sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, a green bean casserole, cornbread dressing, and even some sliced apples," he said. I watched his face as he fanned out the frozen blocks of food in a neat arc. He was beaming as he waited for my approval.

I was taken aback at the thoughts of serving our guests frozen food for the holiday. As one who has always cooked from scratch, I felt taking such a shortcut was just short of sacrilege, but didn't dare utter a word. My husband had done what he could to take a burden from my shoulders and I was definitely thankful for that. Would it really be so bad to have pre-prepared food for one meal? In my head, I justified his plan, and accepted it as a broad smile spread across my face.

"You are so clever and thoughtful," I said to my dear husband. The pride was evident as he threw his shoulders back and puffed out his chest. "This will be great and will save me so much time! Thank you, honey!"

After giving him a big hug, I asked if he'd help me carry the frozen goodies to our deep freezer.

A lot has changed since my cancer diagnosis. I've learned to make concessions I never thought I'd make. Some of them have been spur of the moment decisions and others have been well thought out plans, but in each case, I'm thankful cancer has taught me to focus on what really matters- I'm still here. I'm still alive. And, I can still celebrate special holidays.

This year, I'll be grateful for so many things but one of the main ones is knowing I'm loved.

Cancer takes the blame for a lot of bad in our lives but rarely does it receive accolades for anything good. Over the past five years, its taught me an awful lot and in all honesty, I have to say, it's taught me so much more about gratitude than I ever knew before it came into my life. This year, I will be able to say thank you to cancer, and truly mean it. 

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