I have been reading my fellow bloggers’ posts about how the holiday season can seem even more ‘magical’ after a cancer diagnosis. I believe it’s true, that once you’ve faced some of the most challenging of days and lived to tell the tale – literally – you do become even more grateful for the good days. Heck, even the bad days after cancer aren’t nearly as bad as the day you receive the dreaded diagnosis or the worst of days when you’re in the thick of treatment. Ironically, even as I pause at this time of year to give thanks for the many, many blessings in my life, my family remind me of the news they received on Christmas Eve 22 years ago. When they were coming in to visit me, as they passed by the nursing station, they were told to call before coming in on Christmas morning because I wasn’t expected to live through the night.
Those of you who have read my previous blog posts may already know that when I was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer, my prognosis was dimmer than dim: there were only a handful of cases of my type of cancer around the world and virtually no survivors. My diagnosis came in September and I was told that I would be lucky if I saw the New Year. But despite the grim outlook, my medical team and I vowed to do everything possible to make medical history and we did! But it wasn’t without encountering setbacks and roadblocks along the way.
I was horrified to have to spend that first Christmas after my diagnosis in hospital. My father, who was still mourning the loss of my mother to cancer, brought the spirit of Christmas to my hospital room. He also brought me a gift I was hoping for – a fancy new camera. Over the years I have often thought about how symbolic that camera was to me. Although I wasn’t expected to live long after receiving it, for me it represented my will to live and my desire to move my life forward.
And just as Catherine looks back now one year after finishing her chemo treatments and marvels at how far she has come from those dark days that at the time seemed endless, I too look back and am eminently grateful for the blessings in my life, including the friends and family who helped me through those dark days and who continue to support me through thick and thin. I know that, unfortunately, not everyone has a support network as strong as mine. I hope that for you, the facingcancer.ca community gives you hope and inspiration so that you, too, can look back one day and marvel at how far you’ve come.
As I look forward to a bright new year filled with new adventure and opportunity, I’ve decided I want to make this a year of gratitude. I look forward to being mindful for all that I am grateful for ~ family, friends, health and well-being; work at a job I love; travel and a world of possibility in each new day. God bless and Happy New Year. I look forward to staying connected throughout 2012.