The first slap

The first slap
This photo was taken the day after I was diagnosed, and it is my first bitch slap at cancer. I'm the one with the icepack symbolically placed on my boob. My teammates changed our team's uniform to pink at the last minute, and I came off the soccer field that night with one goal and a whole lot of love. Several of these women are my close friends, but they are all warriors, and they all helped me set the tone for this fight.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

No Token Thanks Here

As some of you who I interact with regularly or who see my Facebook posts may know, my MammoDiagnosaCancerversary recently passed. That was November 13th. While I didn't let that date go by unnoticed, neither did I mark the date here on my blog. I thought about it, but to be honest, I just didn't have the time. This fall I have been crazy busy with things completely unrelated to cancer. And for this, I am very grateful.

In the U.S., we often let our expressions of gratitude collect through the year like little treasures quietly stowed away until November rolls around. Then, on Thanksgiving, we unleash them explicitly and joyfully in a shower of gratitude for things big and small: Health, happiness, puppies, seat warmers in the car, financial stability, our partners and spouses, spectator sports, chocolate, neoprene, coffee, hair, grandchildren, opposable thumbs, trade winds and piƱa coladas, the smell of pine trees, flannel sheets, my children's caring and thoughtful teachers, british accents, Craig's safe return from China, modern medicine... The list goes on, and I'm sure yours does, too. Thanksgiving is truly about more than food: It is a wonderful explosion of good feelings, warmth, and hope. But if it's so warm and fuzzy, why do we wait for a special day to give thanks? Maybe it's because we need the regular reminder. After all, our daily lives are often fraught with shitty things big and small, that take on more urgency than the things we love and are grateful for.

Sometimes, during our Februaries, Junes, and Augusts, we do remember the things that make us feel grateful or fortunate. But what would it take to make every single day a day of giving thanks; a day of gratitude? I'd like to think it doesn't take a cancer diagnosis. But I do know that not one day has gone by since last November that I have not been immensely thankful for someone or something. Some days I almost tear up with thankfulness and relief for simply being here, for Craig's kindness and love, and my ability to play soccer with a bunch of other middle aged men and women. Other days, it's more mundane stuff: gel nail polish, for example, or large sized non-stick bandaids for the cuts on my knees from soccer. Cancer sucks, but in a very bizarre way, I'm grateful for how my cancer diagnosis made me more aware of all of the little beautiful things. They're there. All the time. Right in front of us.

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'm going to share here a post I made here on my blog last May titled, simply, "Grateful." Happy thanks-giving, everyone.

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Cleaning the garage
Taking care of the soccer carpooling
Feeding the pets
Emails and text messages from friends (even if I don’t respond, I read them all)
Load after load of laundry
Fixing the towel rack
Cleaning up dog barf
Pulling weeds
“You have a nicely shaped head”
Fixing the kitchen chair
Doing the grocery shopping
Getting the tire on my car fixed
Running a meeting for me
Mowing the lawn
Going out for coffee with me
Walking the dog
Driving the kids when they have to get to school early
Offers to shave and polish my head
Filling the bird feeders
A new pair of sweats for my horizontal days
Helping me plant the garden
Little notes in my box at work
Making sushi with the kids
Thoughtful cards in the mail
Cleaning out a birdhouse
Hand sanitizer everywhere
Doing the dishes
Getting gas for the mower or my car
More dinner
An origami bird in my box at work
Presenting a paper for me
Squeezing me in last minute at the doctor’s office
Co-teaching with me
Fixing the doorknob
A vacation for the kids
Nurses who know my name without having to look it up
More laundry loads
Taking me out to watch a soccer game
More dinner
Listening to me talk about cancer and chemo
Remembering that sometimes I like to talk about things other than cancer and chemo
A snuggly child
Cleaning the coffee maker
Helping a kid with their homework
A Facebook message
Letting the dog out first thing in the morning
A new book
Scooping dog doo from the yard
Helping me understand my treatment
Driving me to physical therapy, doctors’ appointments, and chemo
Ordering and picking up take-out
Jump starting the battery
Going to the kids' games and cheering them on
Fixing a loose part on a table
More dinner
Phone calls
Getting a kid a meal on the run
Picking up a prescription
Health insurance

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. So many people giving me (and us) so much. Thank you, all.