And giving thanks is exactly what I’m doing this year even more than years before. Even more than last year, I think.
I fought it, my mom insisted on doing most of the cooking and work for Thanksgiving this year. Actually everything except dessert…I made my 3-layer dark chocolate cake.
We had a good visit – although sometimes frustrating – as it is every time the fam gets together.
Dennis and I got there early to help if it was needed. And it was.
I helped with the gravy, getting the dressing in the pan, setting the table and carving the turkey. Thankfully, mom had done several things ahead so the last minute things weren’t overwhelming.
I tried to help minimize the clean-up by washing and putting away dishes, pots and utensils as we went along, but there was still lots of clean up once we were finished. We stayed afterwards to help in that department too. I know they could’ve gotten it done, but I know that my mom was tired and needed to relax the excitement died down. Stress is not her friend with heart failure…
We’re actually treating ourselves to a deep fried turkey that we purchased from Wild Wings. I’m making apple-sausage stuffing and giblet gravy, brussels sprouts with figs and pancetta, and walnut cranberry sauce.
We wrestled enough chocolate cake from my dad to have for our dessert….
At least I feel like cooking. That wasn’t the case last year: I chopped a few nuts but mostly watched as our 2 daughters combined efforts on an impressive Thanksgiving feast in Tampa.
Thinking back, it’s hard to imagine that just two years ago I had no idea that this journey lay ahead of me.
Now that I’ve had my “final” surgery, we can move on, right?
Lots of people are congratulating me and that’s great. But (unless they’ve experienced “the journey”) it just isn’t clear to them that the journey is one for a lifetime.
The fear looms that a check-up will reveal that “it’s back.”
I’ve learned that and I’ve had very few procedures (only 2) or “check-ups” since completing treatment. But procedures, scans, samples and tests are lining up already so that I will understand the constant anxiety that my sisters in the journey have told me will accompany each appointment.
Regardless of how beautifully I recover and how amazingly my plastic surgeon rebuilds me, the journey will never be over. Marked for life as a prime candidate for re-occurrence, each milestone will be a check-off to add another month and eventually year to the cancer-free time tally.
So as I reach this point, I’m thankful for it. But I’m more thankful for the people who support me, the people who are also on the journey and understand, the doctors who “keep the watch” and the nurses who encourage me every time I see them, for the medications that help me check off those milestones and for my body’s amazing ability to revitalize itself from the barrage of surgeries and treatments.
I’ve never hidden the evidence of the journey. Not when I had hardly any hair or when my port scar showed. I think I’ve frightened a few people in the athletic club locker room. No one says anything but I can see that they stare. And even when these scars have diminished, they will never totally disappear – just like the journey. Hopefully those who gawk realize what they can do to keep themselves out of the same predicament.
I’m actually thankful for the experience because of the realignment of priorities and perspective it has caused. I’ve let go of some things and continue to be able to let go of things that I once thought I couldn’t part with. I’m passionate but about some different things. I’m still OCD and driven but understand more clearly what I do and don’t have control over. I’ve met some amazing people: doctors, nurses, specialists, other patients. I’ve seen amazing advances in medicine put to work for me and learned some amazing things about how my body and many other organisms, foods and nutrients work together.
So this weekend I realize that I’m a lot more than grateful. I’ve experienced enlightenment, renewal….and thankfulness.