Before being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, I don’t think I fully understood what it means to “be grateful always”. Sure, I enjoyed my life – a lot. I had married my college sweetheart, traveled, enjoyed a successful business career, retired to raise our children and then started working part-time as a fitness instructor. I had a passion for health, fitness and fun and I loved my family fiercely. But, somehow, I got lost in all the fun. Everyone was so busy, we started to drift apart. Active husband, active teenage boys with all their stuff – it was a game of divide and conquer. I rarely thought about the here and now but was focused on the next thing.
Then…Boom! Just another day, took a shower, felt a lump, got it checked. Breast cancer. Cry, cry, cry on my husband’s shoulder. Felt my life was over, wondered “why me?”. Cry again. And again. After I was cried out, I got busy sorting out what I needed to do to keep on living. What steps, what treatment, where, when, how. Life was a whirlwind for the next month as I lived on the phone, or the internet, or in the doctor’s office.
Slow…down. Decisions made, time to let family and friends know about diagnosis and start treatment. The morning after high school Homecoming, my husband took the boys to breakfast and filled them in. Made phone calls, sent emails, posted to my mom’s and husband’s FB (I didn’t have a FB account). Next day infusion Smart Port in, weekly chemotherapy begins.
This is when I started my faith journey. I prayed daily, several times a day, for a miracle. I’d been in my church high school youth group, married in church and had our boys baptized but hadn’t done much else. Isn’t it funny how you turn to God in the bad times but often forget about Him during the good? That was me in a nutshell. Thank goodness God doesn’t hold grudges. He was there for me when I called and sent me many, many earthly angels to help me through this journey. And that’s when I started to realize what “be grateful always” really means.
To me “be grateful always” means I wake up each morning and before I get out of bed, I thank God for another day on this earth. I don’t care if it’s rainy, snowy, freezing cold or blazing hot – I’m just glad to be here! I thank Him for my family and my friends. I thank Him for my health and the health of those I love. I send specific prayers for those that need them. If I tell someone I’ll pray for them, I mean it (I keep a list to remember). I ask for continued health. And I ask for guidance to live a life of joy, gratefulness, and service to others. Every day I try to show and say “I love you” or “I care about you” to everyone in my life. Why wait? No guarantees on tomorrow. Many wonderful people helped me in my time of need, both friends and friendly strangers. It’s time for me to pay that forward, backward and sideways!