Breast Cancer and the Thanksgiving Holiday

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

Republished from a previous blog. This is my message to all on this day of gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving!

With my favorite holiday of the year just a few days away, I am already well into the planning mode to assure that all of my yearly traditions can be implemented with as much perfection as possible. After all, a day that is set aside to reflect on all the things for which we are grateful certainly deserves the very best that I can give to it. Then when we sit down to dinner and start to share all of the things for which we are most thankful, not only will I be sharing my list but also doing so in the context of all things that mean the most to me for this holiday. And this year will be no different but recently I started to think about those who may not look at things in the same way as I do, particularly in the breast cancer community.

I am not sure exactly when and how we develop gratitude and appreciation for our lives and those with whom we share it but I do realize we are not all alike in this arena. I do believe that it was something that I learned from my parents. I remember that even the year when I was diagnosed with breast cancer the first time, even though it was just 4 months before the holidays, I was still grateful that it had been found and removed and that I was fortunate enough to have great treatment. Even the following year after being diagnosed a second time and going through surgery and reconstruction, etc., I was so grateful for my life and being able to move forward with the treatments available to me.

I can’t speak for any person who finds herself/himself in this position during the holidays. I can only imagine that if I were in pain and sick from my treatments, I am sure that I would be very sad that I could not enjoy this time of the year as I have in the past but I could never presume to know what the reality of such a situation would be like. However, as I know more than a few people who have found themselves in this position at the holidays, I have done a bit of research and would like to share what I have found with you.

It seems that regardless of whether a person is a breast cancer survivor or not, if a person knows gratitude, she/he will always find things for which she/he is grateful regardless of the circumstances in which they find themselves. No matter the tough circumstances that one may be experiencing at the moment, they will do their best to make things nice for others and not focus on their own situation. Even if they can’t do all the things that they would like, they will do their very best and be so very happy that they have been allowed to share another holiday season with those who mean so very much to them. You will find them with a smile on their face as they share their feelings of hope and happiness for the future. They will focus on ways to plan and prepare for future good times with family and friends as soon as they are feeling better. And those plans don’t have to be big things like trips to exotic locations or major bucket list items but just heading out for a fun luncheon with friends; something that they haven’t been able to do for some time.

Yes, the human spirit is something that is immeasurable, even under the most difficult of circumstances. It allows for those who choose to appreciate the lives that they have to find ways to overcome the worst of times so that the best of times are so much more special. It allows for those who choose to muster the courage and heart to fight through the difficult things that have come their way to be able to stand proud in their accomplishments at the end of the day. It creates a meaningful life for the individual that serves as an example to others to know that if you wish, you can make your life count in ways that you could never have imagined.

So, this Thanksgiving, I have an addition to my list of things for which I am most grateful and that is the most extraordinary men and women that I have met during this past year who are dealing with breast cancer under some most difficult circumstances. Whether it is those who seem to be losing their battle to advanced breast cancer or the woman who faced breast cancer surgery and treatment as a homeless person or the one who has been living with breast cancer for more than four decades starting in her teens or those who have given everything possible to help others who are facing breast cancer at any stage, I am grateful. Even in the midst of what you have had to deal with on a personal basis, each one of you has help others in ways that you can’t imagine to know that they are not alone and that there is always hope for the future. And I promise you that I am not the only one who will be including you on my list of those for whom I am grateful this year. You have inspired all of us and given us hope and for that we all will be forever grateful.