Kathryn E. Vinson, MS, CCRC
Ah, the holiday season. A time when we come together with our family and friends to give thanks for our blessings and share our love. And overeat. For some of us, however, it is harder to see the blessings – especially after a cancer diagnosis. Our world has been turned upside down by a disease that we have little control over, but it is vitally important for us as cancer patients to look for the positive. Depression has been shown in multiple studies to have terrible effects on our immune systems – which we need at its strongest during the battle. With that in mind, let’s take some time today to talk about what we have to be thankful for, as cancer patients and survivors.
What would we do without these angels disguised as our parents, spouses, children, and friends? These beautiful people often put their lives on hold to help us through what is arguably the worst part of our lives. Can’t do laundry? Mom comes in and helps. Can’t cook? Your best friend organizes a meal train for your family. Need a ride to your treatment center? Your son takes off work to drive and sit with you. Remember how much love has been shown to you during this journey of cancer. For this love and support, we give thanks.
At first, we think about our oncologist. Then we remember the nurses, our “Heroes in Scrubs”, that administer chemo, care for our every need in the hospital, and advocate for us to insurance companies. And the surgeon that used his/her calm hands to remove the offending tumor. The radiologist that read that first scan and brought the terrible news. The kind technologist that sees to our comfort during ultrasounds, blood draws, PET scans, etc., all while utilizing their specialized knowledge to ensure that a diagnosis is spot on. The interventional radiologist that prescribes and directs the radiation to minimize damage to surrounding tissues. There are countless others that take part in our treatment teams. For their knowledge, their heart, their desire to help their fellow man, we give thanks.
These folks are truly behind the scenes heroes. We seldomly see them, much less have the opportunity to shake their hands. It is their brilliance and determination that creates new and innovative treatments attacking the beast that we call cancer. It was less than a century ago that my grandmother’s uncle was literally burned from head to toe by radiation to fight his cancer. But with the work of researchers, we have the ability to direct radiation beams to limit damage to surrounding tissues. We have targeted therapies, immunotherapies, and even personalized cancer vaccines that are making cancer treatments safer and more tolerable. There are the clinical research sites and their staff that work to bring newer, safer, and more effective treatments to the market. For the diligence, insight, imagination (yes, imagination!), and love, we give thanks.
I found this prayer, written by Samuel F. Pugh. I know that not everyone is a religious person, and that those of us that do worship, don’t all worship in the same way. Despite those differences, the message in this prayer is beautiful.
A Prayer For Thanksgiving
Oh God, when I have food,
Help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
Help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
Help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain;
Help me to remember those who suffer;
Help me to destroy my complacency;
Bestir my compassion,
And be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
Those who cry out for what we take for granted.
As always, much love, many prayers, and abundant blessings to all of the warriors out there!