Bonnie Annis is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes. She is an avid photographer, freelance writer/blogger, wife, mother and grandmother.
Giving thanks for cancer is a choice, and a difficult one at that. How can one give thanks for something so painful and traumatizing?
The leaves are changing color, the air is a bit nippier and Christmas decorations are going up in most department stores. There's a definite season of change in the air. In just a few weeks, we'll celebrate Thanksgiving, a special day set aside for remembering all the goodness we've experienced throughout the year.
This year, I'll not only be remembering my diagnosis with breast cancer, I'll actually choose to give thanks for it. You may have a hard time understanding how I celebrate something that has caused so much pain and agony, but I will. I will make the personal choice to celebrate cancer and here are the reasons why.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer wasn't supposed to be a gift. In fact, it was more of an end to the life I once knew. Cancer changed me in more ways that I can recount; some of those ways were good and some were very bad. At first, I looked at cancer as a death sentence. Being unable to see ahead into the future was frightening and debilitating. But this forced me to focus on one moment at a time and one day at a time. Instead of taking days for granted, I began to treasure them.
Breast cancer also taught me to love longer and harder. I'd always been a compassionate and caring person, but once again, found myself, in my precancer days, taking loved ones for granted. I didn't cherish the opportunities to spend time with them. Now I do.
I give thanks for breast cancer because of all the valuable lessons it taught me, like learning to slow down and savor life just a little bit more than I used to do. Cancer has helped me see through new eyes and realize that we're all struggling in one way or another. Some of us know it and some have yet to realize that fact.
So, yes, this year, I'll give thanks for my cancer. And notice, I placed ownership on that last statement. I can't give thanks for your cancer or anyone else's, but I can give thanks for my own experience.
Perhaps you'll find the ability to be thankful for your cancer, too. It isn't an easy choice to make but it is something that must be considered. If we choose to look at all cancer in a negative light, we just may miss the gift.
This is an odd perspective, I'll admit. Giving thanks for a life-changing disease isn't something most people choose to do, but I hope you'll take a moment to consider offering thanks even though it will be extremely difficult to do so.
For everything there is a season. There is a time to rejoice, a time to cry, a time to live and a time to die. Cancer doesn't always bring death with it. Sometimes, it brings life illuminating perspective.
You may think I've never experienced the darkest side of cancer, but I have. I've lost many loved ones to cancer. I've seen them suffer terribly and die in great agony. And while I'd never wish that type of demise on anyone, I still choose to give thanks.
Cancer is a great teacher on perspective. Learning to shift your view through the eyes of cancer can help a person see what's truly important in life. Being thankful in all things helps us survive and anything we can do to make each day a little better is well worth it, wouldn't you agree?
So, this year, let's take time to be thankful. Let's not only thank God for our many blessings like family, friends and good health. Let's also take time to thank Him for allowing us to see and appreciate our lives in a new and different way.
Yes, cancer is traumatizing. Yes, it can turn a person's world upside down and inside out. Yes, it causes physical, emotional and spiritual pain (all of which I've experienced), but it also can bring a person the gift of seeing good in the midst of the bad.
Learning to give thanks in all things isn't easy. In fact, giving thanks for the hard things is extremely difficult but choosing to do so is very freeing. Won't you try to give thanks for your cancer this year? Or maybe you're on the outside looking in as someone you love goes through the suffering journey of breast cancer. In that case, it may be even more difficult to see even the slightest bit of good in the pain but as you watch the resilience and fight your precious one chooses to give each day, remember, cancer teaches us the true value of life.
If I had one wish, I'd use it to eradicate all cancer forever but since wishes can't solve the problem of cancer, being thankful for it might just rob it of a little of its power. That's why I choose to be thankful for it this year. How about you?