A wedding. A death. A birth. A move. A new job. A retirement. Typically we mark beginnings and endings.
Those of us who are cancer survivors mark them both.
Ask any of us the date we got our diagnosis. We can tell you the date, what the weather was like, who got our first call sharing the diagnosis, what our first thoughts were.
We can also tell you the dates of our surgeries, of our first and last chemo treatments, of our first and last radiation treatments. And the date of our very last, the final of all, treatment.
Yesterday was one of those significant cancer survivor dates for me. On Groundhog Day of 2012 I had my last chemo treatment. Then I had my toughest month. I was so tired, so weak, so discouraged – the lowest emotionally of the whole eight months of treatments. I couldn’t even walk to the mailbox on some days. It was all I could do to walk to my radiation oncologist’s waiting room from the parking lot. I had to look for the nearest parking place if I had to get out and go anywhere. Taking a shower was a workout. I basically only went from bed to chair to sofa and back to bed – for several weeks.
But now, 12 months later, I can get out and do almost anything I want. I just took a walk in the Chickamauga Battlefield. A brisk walk that got my heart rate up. It was exhilarating.
A year ago, I could hardly taste any food. My sister was here during the Super Bowl, and she made me what I’m sure were yummy nachos. But I couldn’t taste them. I did enjoy the textures, but as far as taste – nothing. Today, though, I can eat anything – even spicy foods – and enjoy it all, taste and texture.
I can park far away from the doors of businesses. In fact, I like to park almost at the end of parking lots because it’s so wonderful to be able to walk into the store no matter how far away I am.
Yes, yesterday and today, I’ve been especially grateful. Because I’m marking another one-year anniversary.
The sky seems bluer today. The sun feels warmer. The beat of my heart feels stronger. The air seems more life-giving.
I’m celebrating another February, another Groundhog Day, another Super Bowl. None of which I take for granted anymore. I used barely to notice another year, barely to remember what one year ago was like. But now I know better.
Now I know they’re all gifts and grace. Another February. Another Groundhog Day. Another Super Bowl. I’m blessed to be here for them all.
I’m grateful, oh so grateful.