One year ago my husband and I posed for this picture on Thanksgiving day. What the picture does not reveal is that I was sick and my immediate family was very concerned that I was having a relapse of leukemia.
I was having chronic infections, nose bleeds and I was absolutely exhausted. Out of our desperate wish for me to be healthy, we attributed my fatigue to the fact that my husband and I had moved into our new home the week prior to Thanksgiving.
Even though none of us said the words aloud, we knew that leukemia had found it’s way back into our lives. And no matter how hard I kicked, no matter how hard I cried, no matter how loudly I screamed there was absolutely nothing I could do about it: my body had grown resistant to Gleevec, the chemotherapy which had kept me in remission from 2008-2014. At the time, it felt like God was deaf to our prayers; our hearts were breaking.
In December my oncologist confirmed our concerns. Thankfully my doctors caught the relapse early however I still had symptoms as the leukemia cells became active again. When I went on my new chemotherapy, I seemed to get sicker before I got better due to serious side effects.
This past year required us to be brave.
I can never ever thank my husband enough for the way he treated me during those dark months.
Movies often romanticize illness, producers soften the gross scenes with music and lighting. However, in real life, there is no lovely music or soft filter to make the awful moments less disgusting. They are cold, frightening and isolating. Last year my husband pampered me when I was so sick that I know many people would have walked away.
This year is very different.
Just the other day, in unison, my husband and I said “last year was a blur”. It was a blur of fevers, fear, feelings of hopelessness, broken hearts, nose bleeds, bone crushing pain, bone marrow biopsies and aspirations, meetings with bone marrow transplant teams. It was scary and it all happened so quickly.
I am officially back in remission now and we are in the process of finding center again after having our lives thrown so far from the middle-point.
This stage also requires brevity and unconditional love. We are navigating our way through the fall-out that comes with a health crisis.
Before I got sick, I spent almost 2 decades working as a speech pathologist, primarily in the medical setting. I routinely counseled couples and families as they went through the stages of acute injury through the stage where my husband and I are now: finding normal again after devastation…
From a professional viewpoint, I understand that this is a hard stage. However, my professional knowledge does not make this current stage any easier. Simply put, my husband and I are currently wading through uncharted waters together. The medical bills are huge, we are still learning what I can and can’t quite do yet and we are trying to recover from a level of stress that was, frankly, unimaginable.
If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter then you know that I routinely use hashtags #GratitudeAttitude or #AttitudeOfGratitude. I use these because it is a fundamental, conscious way that I live. My parents taught me to do it when I was young and it has helped me through life’s hardest times.
As tremendous as this year is with my remission, there are many parts of my life that are uncertain right now. Thus, I found myself counting my blessings with intention when I went to bed on Thanksgiving.
This was my list:
- Remission and the return of my health
- My husband has loved me unconditionally through this messy year
- Shelter–I have a place to sleep
- God has a plan for my life
I know that if I am practicing intentional gratitude on a holiday when I have every reason in the world to rest easy then there are other people who feel scared, lonely, sick, overwhelmed.
I encourage you to find 1 thing to be grateful for before you go to bed each night. As you begin to notice the beauty around you, your perspective will change. Gratitude is not a cure-all, however it can and will grant courage, joy and success.
What is on your gratitude list this today?