The Gift

Some presents don’t come neatly wrapped in box, topped with the perfect ribbon.

The gift I’ve gotten this year came by way of ultrasound and blood tests. All things considered, it’s one I would have been altogether okay not receiving at all.

But I did, and as odd as it may sound, I’m so thankful for it.

Sometime during the spring, during lots of crazy days, it occurred to me that in a weird way, getting cancer for the second time was actually a second chance. A second chance to learn those lessons that we’ve read so many times–that facing your own mortality makes you appreciate every day more, that you take things for granted less often, that you don’t sweat the small stuff so much.

I’m not sure why I didn’t learn more the first time around with thyca. Maybe I listened so intently to my doctors who didn’t even entertain the idea of mortality that I didn’t see the need to dwell. Or maybe I just didn’t take the time I should have to dwell in a purposeful way. I just powered on through. But you know what? If you get cancer, it’s okay to dwell. It’s okay to sit and think, and sometimes to be sad and frustrated, and other times to be riotously happy.

I deliberately took the time this time to do those things. (Well, I didn’t deliberately set aside time to be frustrated, but it happened anyway.) In between all of those doctor’s appointments and tests and trips to the grocery store, I got the chance to get as much sleep as I needed (safe to say it’s more than I was getting). To take Clar for walks that didn’t involve me pulling his lazy butt down the street, muttering, “We’re late, we’re late, we’re late.” To make and actually enjoy eating dinner with B. To meet friends for coffee and drinks, and to get to know their babies. To see how the other half (being the people who get to go to the gym when it’s not packed) lives. To read books–for fun. To rediscover volunteering. To rediscover 90210. To write. To find yoga pants and a studio. And the list goes on.

I’m a little sad that some of those things will be curbed by my return to work next week. But I’m incredibly thankful that I had the time to devote to them, because they added up to one of the best gifts of all: improved perspective. I have avoided writing this for a long time because it sounds so trite, but it’s true. I do have a better sense of what really matters now.

I’m pretty sure the scans and the LID and the isolation were worth it, but just in case, I’m going to try to make sure to apply the lessons this time.

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