What Cancer Patients Are Thankful for This Thanksgiving

Survivors // November 23, 2016

Despite the awfulness of cancer, cancer patients and survivors often find ways to express thanks for their experiences, even when going through the most difficult times of their lives. Whether just diagnosed or a longtime survivor, individuals who have or have had cancer frequently find a new sense of gratefulness for their circumstances than they did before facing this terrible disease.

Over the last couple weeks, the Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center asked a number of people who currently have cancer or who have had their cancer go into remission to share why they are thankful this Thanksgiving. We’ve compiled their responses and are sharing them below.

Timothy Minerd

Two-time leukemia survivor

Having cancer at a young age gave me the extraordinary opportunity to figure out what’s really important in life. Friends, family, health, and happiness have all been priorities for me ever since that first diagnosis.

Facing a difficult illness can be a blessing in disguise: a chance to step back from the day to day and reflect on what you value most. Having cancer gives you wisdom in life, and a heightened perspective.

Erin Michaela

Five-year cancer survivor

The transformation I underwent from a terminal cancer patient to someone thriving thanks in great measure to the practices and wisdom of yoga.

Before that fateful phone conversation in 2011, I was a healthy vegetarian mom still nursing my 12-month-old son while juggling a full-time career, as well as teaching yoga two mornings a week. Suddenly, I was plunged into the world of cancer 24/7. Once I received a life-saving stem-cell transplant from an anonymous donor – after 5 rounds of hospital-administered chemo and 11 rounds of total-body radiation – I wondered how to put my shattered life back together.

Pranayama (breathwork), asana (yoga poses), and dhyana (meditation) along with wisdom from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras were the tools I used to discover my new normal. With yoga techniques and wisdom, I was able to rest, relax, and renew, putting cancer was on the backburner so I now live my life to the fullest.

Heidi Bright

Five-year cancer survivor

I am thankful I was able to use my highly aggressive end-stage sarcoma diagnosis to heal my life – which helped me go into radical remission. Now I am thankful to be free of evidence of disease and free of any treatment for more than five years.

Courtland L.

Current breast-cancer patient

I’m a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient and there are certainly many things I am thankful for as I embark on this journey.

As I live far away from my family, I am thankful to have an incredible group of friends that stepped up to be my caregiver army without me even having to ask.

I am thankful that my family, although far away, is very involved in my care and also able to offer some comic relief when things get a little overwhelming.

I am thankful for my education that has given me the tools to navigate this journey.

I am thankful to my care team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for making sure I get the best care in the world and holding my hand through the process.

I am thankful to be in overall good health so that when the chemo starts to kick my ass, it hopefully won’t be that bad…

I am thankful that my line of work has given me the opportunity to connect with many different experts in healthcare so I have multiple sources to turn to in order to make sure I am getting the best care, that it makes sense, to help decipher the medical terms, to walk me through the treatment process, and to give me general advice on cancer care.

Mari Selby

10-year uterine cancer survivor

I vividly recall the phone call telling me I had cancer, and how that took my breath away. I am still thankful for early detection, the surgeon’s hands removing all the affected areas, the acupuncture I did after the surgery instead of radiation, my circle of close friends, and most of all being cancer-free for 10 years now.