Thanksgiving with Cancer

An American, family tradition. Thanksgiving Thursday at Grandma’s house, food galore, family you’ve not seen in a while, and SEC football. One of our most favorite days of the year. The one day we can pig completely out and not feel ashamed for going back for seconds…or thirds. Half of the room is red and blue, while the other is maroon and white.

Every year, before we say grace, we all gather in a circle, hold hands, and take turns saying what we are thankful for. We have a pretty big family, so our circle is more like a ginormous….shape….not sure what kind. Ha. Nonetheless, we are thankful for our big family. I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with this part of our family gathering, though. Not necessarily hate, but I dread it, because I know I will cry. Every year. It never fails. I am an emotional person. I get that from my Momma. Her Daddy always told her it just meant she had a big heart. So….I’ll not complain. My Granddaddy was a wise man. 🙂

Last year, my niece–Anna–had open heart surgery. It was April 2014. Long story short, she is the toughest little gal I know. She came through her heart surgery and recovery like a pro. I knew right away what I would say when it was my turn to tell what I was thankful for that Thanksgiving. God healed our baby girl’s heart!

Fast forward to June 2015. Anna had a brain tumor, and surgery was scheduled at LeBonheur. The surgery lasted a while, but once the doctor came out, she seemed pleased. They were sure they got all of the tumor and we’re almost positive it was benign. The tumor was sent to St. Jude for biopsy, though, to be certain. Again, Anna was a trooper. She recovered amazingly. A week later, our world was turned upside down. The tumor was not benign. It was a high-grade, agressive, malignant tumor called Anaplastic Astrocytoma. I don’t care how much you try to put yourself in that predicament, you are never prepared to hear those words.

I’ve always heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”. When one child has cancer, that same village helps her fight. That village is ever so faithful prayer warriors. That village is our strength to stay positive when we feel like we’ve hit rock bottom. That village is family, church family, and friends. That village is an amazing community. That village is Anna’s Army.

Thanksgiving 2015 is definitely one for the books. Yes, cancer is a horrible disease that I despise with all of my might. I hate so many things about it. I will pray for a cure until the day I die. However, it has made me be thankful for so much more than I ever have before. It makes me be thankful for the “small things” that I used to take for granted. It makes me thankful for that gray hair I found on my head. It makes me thankful for those nights my kids are driving me crazy. It makes me thankful that those doctors and nurses chose the career path they did. It makes me thankful for a niece that is tough as nails.

One of my favorite Bible verses is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

In EVERYTHING give thanks!

This Thanksgiving, I challenge you all to hold hands with your family, make a shape, and tell what you are thankful for. Think outside the box. God is faithful to us, we should be thankful to Him. Not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

-Aunt A

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