This Year Has Taught Me Gratitude

This Year Has Taught Me Gratitude
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This week I’ve felt completely at a loss over what to write about. It happens sometimes. Usually there’s something on my mind that I can bring forth to the page, but this week I have nothing new to say. I don’t blame myself too much — most of us have been living pretty quiet lives. Especially those of us within this little community of survivors and the chronically ill. We’ve been living at home, trying to navigate a global pandemic, while still working or simply trying not to die. A lot of the time there’s not much happening that’s new. And that can make writing a column hard. Yes, I could talk about all the chemo and transplant symptoms I’m still dealing with, but you know all about that already. I sometimes feel like I have explored all the topics that come with life after cancer.

It’s less that I have nothing left to say, and more that I often struggle with my identity as a survivor. Sometimes it’s easier (and healthier) to try to move forward than dredge into the thick of the trauma of everything that’s happened. I am proud of my journey, proud of what I’ve survived, and yet at times I want to separate myself from it all. Put it behind me and look to the future instead.

Rather than thinking of a specific theme for this column, I want to write about where I am now. I want to write about all the good things in my life. I want to write about the feeling of living with pain and joy at the same time. The dichotomy of this fragile life, the complexity of living through a pandemic as a vulnerable person, the confusion of still being here when others who had my disease aren’t.

Mostly, though, I want to write about what I’m grateful for amid all the chaos.

This year hasn’t gone to plan for any of us. Sometimes it feels like a cruel joke. How is it that I spent the bulk of my early 20s going through cancer twice and now, finally, the year I get a clean bill of health, the whole world gets sick? How is it that the year I finally get to enjoy being young, single, happy, and free of hospitals and illness, it all falls apart in a way that almost feels comical?

I don’t have the answer. Life is fragile, uncertain, confusing, and surreal. What I do know is this year has taught me so much. It’s taught me how to be alone. Really, truly alone and happy in my own company. It’s taught me how to be an adult, pay my own bills, screw in my own lightbulbs (somehow there was always a man around to do that before), cook healthy meals, meet deadlines, and take care of myself. It’s reminded me that no matter what happens, if you know how to sit with yourself and your emotions — the sadness and happiness, loneliness and anxiety, joy and uncertainty — then you’ll never truly be alone.

It’s shown me clearly how much there is to be grateful for, even when everything you thought you needed to be happy is taken away. So, what am I grateful for in the midst of all this loss and grief and madness? I’m deeply grateful for my mind. For the capacity to entertain myself, whether with books, series, articles, or free online courses. Whether I’m exercising manically in my lounge, dancing around my house with a glass of wine, trying and failing to replicate fancy recipes in my kitchen, or cycling around singing out loud to myself.

I am grateful that I don’t need anyone outside of myself to be OK. That’s the greatest lesson this year has taught me. Right now, I don’t have anything else to say except in the midst of all this overwhelming global suffering and my own internal trauma, I am OK. I’m happy, I’m here, I’m healthy. Nothing else matters at the end of the day but how much you choose to accept what is and seek the light, seek the joy.

How much you choose to focus on the good and be grateful that you’re still here.

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Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lymphoma News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lymphoma.

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