This won’t come as much of a shock to those who know me, but I’m not usually one to make gratitude lists. It’s not that I’m not grateful. I try to realize how lucky I am every day. But my Facebook feed is more likely to have my top 10 Halloween or summer songs than a Thanksgiving gratitude countdown.
In light of this crazy year, however, it’s probably a good time to keep track of all the things I have for which to be thankful. There are many. Plus, according to this article on gratitude, being thankful is beneficial to health and happiness, and every little bit counts, I guess.
All of you. Shucks. I mean it. Words are my business, yet I don’t have enough to show my gratitude for your kind words, visits, emails and notes, and your outpouring of generosity and support. So these two will have to do: Thank you! I’ve always known that I’ve been very fortunate to meet amazing people over the years, and the last six months have just shown me that I’m right!
I’m also grateful to my family and, of course, to my boyfriend, who has accompanied me to appointments and put aside his squeamishness to see IVs put in and blood drawn. He tries to do his best when I’m at my worst and am depressed, sad or scared. He’s stepped in wherever he’s been needed, from shaving my head to stopping me from assaulting cabs after surgery.
I’m in good hands. My mind is at ease knowing I’m in the hands of the capable staff at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, from my oncologist to the nurses who have to find my veins to the friendly front desk staff. It’s not only that they’re good at what they do, but everyone’s always nice and upbeat, and when you’re in a fairly scary situation, it makes such a difference. (Especially after going to a few places during the beginning of my diagnosis where I wasn’t treated with respect or even as a person.) I was talking with a few people at the Visible Ink Fall Writing Festival for patients (more on that in another post) about this and we all agreed we always felt reassured that everyone there was taking good care of us.
I have health insurance. After the company I worked for folded this summer and I went freelance, things looked a little grim when I found out that I wasn’t going to get COBRA, as promised. But it looks as if I’ll be insured through the rest of this year and will get a new plan next year. I can’t imagine facing the transplant without insurance.
I have work, and this is the view from my office. Job searches are the worst. Losing my job this summer, while I was in the middle of chemo, gave me more time to dwell on everything, and looking for work while you’re not feeling 100 percent is even less fun. While freelancing is always a little uncertain, I’ve had the chance to work on some fun stories and projects and to work with some great people. My old sometimes-office several years ago had a view of the Chrysler Building, but working at home in pants without zippers and with feline assistants is pretty great. And my boyfriend has a new job as well, and he works mostly from home too.
I live in the greatest city in the world. New York City is my favorite place. This wasn’t always the case. When I first visited in the mid ’80s, a 9-year-old from the suburbs didn’t quite appreciate it. My grandma always loved NYC, and I wish she could have seen me move here. She may have even joined me! I haven’t been able to travel much during treatment. The docs want you close to the hospital, just in case. But I can’t think of any other place I’d rather be. (In January and February, however, I’d probably like to be somewhere tropical, but right now, I’m OK with staying put.)
I can work out again! (For a little bit.) I was taking it easy the last few months of ABVD, and for the past month, I’ve been easing back into a routine with a few kickboxing classes here and there and yoga at home. I’m still under orders not to overdo it. And I’m still supposed to avoid germs, so I won’t be joining a gym (or maybe even going back to boot camp) for awhile. Sadly, being around so much of other people’s bodily fluids is also off the table, so Bikram yoga (my absolute favorite type of yoga) is still on hold. But I am going to a few classes where I don’t have to touch equipment, and I have my home workouts to do. I’ll obviously have to take three weeks (and longer after that) off from working out. These long stretches of not exercising from chemo, surgeries and procedures aren’t ideal, but I’m going to try to build my strength up for the next few months for the fight ahead.
I have control over the space heater. Mostly. I came across this study that found cold environments make cancer cells spread faster, and that’s my argument this winter for when I position myself between the apartment heater and the space heater like a slice of bread that needs to be toasted.
I have a new bath mat. This probably doesn’t rank with the others, but our old bath mat towel was in pretty bad shape. And this is coming from someone who never buys towels. I had maybe purchased a few in my adult life, but until I acquired my boyfriend’s towels, I never knew towels could be so soft and thirsty and good at drying things. I don’t remember my family ever buying towels. I know they did at some point in the early ’80s when they went to a Cannon outlet. They don’t make towels like they used to. And they don’t make cheap towels like they used to, either, so you can see my reluctance at buying a new one. (If I had a time machine, in addition to going to see great bands in their heydays, I would also pick up some towels.) So the purchase I made yesterday, to avoid Black Friday madness, is a pretty big one for me.
I know there are things I’m leaving out. This latest treatment doesn’t have many side effects, so I hope to have as normal a time as possible before doing the stem cell transplant. And even with the ABVD this summer, I managed to go to concerts, to the beach (shaded by an umbrella) and generally do my favorite things. My preferred winter activity is staying inside, so I’ll be relaxing. Aside from the whole cancer thing, I still feel like one of the luckiest people ever.