One of the advantages of cancer is that it teaches the value of taking nothing for granted.
The other day I was walking down the street with my dad, and I put on my sunglasses. There was a time (b.c. - before cancer) when I would whip out my sunglasses and hardly give them a thought beyond how cool they looked on me. But as I am recovering from surgery where my incision is a huge question mark shape on the right side of my head, starting at the point where my jaw and ear meet, putting on sunglasses can be a painful experience. Hopefully someday it won't hurt to put them on anymore, and it will be something to be grateful for. Sunglasses that don't hurt. And for that matter, even being able to sleep on your right side (which I finally can do now with minimal pain, and that was a great milestone). Or being able to yawn without jaw pain (still waiting for that blessing). Put these on your gratitude list if you haven't already.
I have several really great friends from high school. One is my husband, my best friend of all time. Another is a breast cancer survivor, and she is a great inspiration to me. I treasure her emails, which are always full of humor and faith. Another high school friend is also very awesome. We talk a lot, and it is so fun. She sent me some amazing chocolate-covered strawberries as a "get well" present. And she laughs with me about the THUNK discussion. She is turning 40 soon, and is approaching that age with the normal apprehension that accompanies all milestone birthdays. In my b.c. (before cancer) days, I was also feeling the willies as my husband turned 39 last year, because it means that 40 is coming around the corner for him, and I am only nine months behind.
But in the a.d. days (after diagnosis), all I can think about is how wonderful it would be to turn 40. To turn 50. To turn 60. And on and on. There is no shame in getting older. Getting older is a privilege. A blessing. Each milestone birthday represents the bounty of life we have been given. For me, my 40th birthday is scheduled for July 2007 - beyond my statistical prognosis. It would be something to be very thankful for.
Take nothing for granted. As illustrated in the story of the optomist who inherits a barn full of fertilizer and runs through it joyfully, shouting, "there must be a pony in here somewhere!", there really are blessings to be found all around us.