Many Types of Gratitude

December 17, 2019
Jane Biehl Ph.D.
Jane Biehl Ph.D.

Jane is a ten-year survivor of a very rare form of cancer Myelodysplastic Syndrome. She has enjoyed several exciting careers including a librarian, counselor, teacher, and writer. She loves to write about surviving cancer, overcoming hearing loss, and her hearing ear service dog, Sita.

Whether we have cancer or not, gratitude enriches our lives and there are many things to be grateful for.

Many of us cancer survivors speak about gratitude after our diagnosis. We no longer take a new day for granted. We are grateful to be alive, to spend another day with our family and friends, and to have hope for a new chemo regimen or treatment to keep us going.

Recently, I read a quote by a famous graphic designer, Milton Glaser, who possesses the remarkable gift for taking ordinary objects and designs illustrations of them into an extraordinary piece of art. “If you perceive the universe as being a universe of abundance, then it will be. If you think of the universe as one of scarcity, then it will be…I always thought that there was enough of everything to go around—that there are enough ideas in the universe and enough nourishment.”

Wait—these ideas are new aspects of gratitude. Gratitude is not just about things, being alive and nature. Gratitude includes ideas, thoughts, art, love, caring, and sharing, which are all beautiful!

My oncologist is a very spiritual person, and this is one of the many reasons her patients love her so much. Everyone I know who has her as a doctor says she is fantastic. She and I often talk about the goodness of people, and how important it is to send love and positivity out into the universe.

It truly helps us, cancer patients. Presently, I am experiencing muscle pains and neuropathy, while waiting for a new chemo to be approved by the FDA. Last weekend I didn’t even want to get out of bed, however, I had planned to go with two of my dearest friends for lunch and shopping. We laughed, talked and had a great time. One of them even surprised me with a donut ornament in honor of the book I have written on cancer titled “Life is short-Eat the donut.” When I came home, it was no surprise that I felt less achy, less pain and much happier. The ornament was wonderful, but the idea of having friends and camaraderie was more important. Sunday, I felt crappy again.

Still, I forced myself to go to a football tailgating party with the people from my church. We had a rare win for our loser team, but that wasn’t the point. What was wonderful was our laughter and joking, along with eating homemade food brought in by each of us. After the fellowship and food, I came home happy, not miserable.

During this holiday season let’s give gratitude. Not just for the essentials like a roof over our heads, food on the table and heat to keep us warm. But be thankful for laughter, music, and love of family and friends. Enjoy the spirituality that connects all of us no matter what our religion. Everyone can enjoy this, not just cancer survivors. We are all a part of this wonderful world.

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