I am thrilled to report that I am alive and well twelve years after being diagnosed with a terminal cancer. Twelve years, cancer-free, and counting! Lately I’ve been thinking quite a bit about cancer and what really counts.
Counting . . .
Counting used to mean that I marked off another day, a month, and gradually a year of survival. Surviving for three years was way beyond anyone’s belief, as few people with the type of sinus cancer I had live that long. However, three became four, four five–until the years added up to twelve!
Yes, survival is a big deal, and I am thankful! However, cancer taught me about another way of counting—a way that I believe is far more important than the number of days or years that I have survived. Now I know emotionally what I only understood intellectually prior to my diagnosis—that every moment is precious, unique, and ours to savor.
Each moment, experience, and feeling counts—much more than we know. When most of us think of life-threatening diseases we think of cancer and heart disease, yet perhaps the most pervasive and destructive disease of all is when we are ungrateful, and begin to take our lives for granted. Not counting the miracle of being alive, not counting what parts of us remain healthy, not counting all which we have been given. Not being appreciative of these gifts robs us of life, and turns us into the walking dead, unappreciative of the fact that our existence is a miracle and that we live in paradise.
Cancer may not have taught me how to count, but it did help me realize what really counts. I tear up when I realize that I have been given a second chance to embrace life, to live it fully, and to live it without regrets. Now it’s up to me to decide, and for you to decide whether to accept the gifts we have been given.