Today, one year ago, I was NOT diagnosed with cancer.
I’ve had this crazy sense of gratitude this Advent that perhaps is coming out in my posts, because when I read them over, I think, if that weren’t ME, I might find myself super annoying. I didn’t know where it was coming from….I’m as much of a jerk as the next guy…except of course from outside myself, the Giver of all good and perfect gifts, but why this year specifically?
This week, I remembered that last year I had just had surgery to remove half of my thyroid, which was growing a tumor that had taken over the right half. My massage therapist at the chiropractor’s had discovered it in the late summer, and I kept going to appointments, hearing, “It’s probably nothing, but….” until I got to the point of surgery with a promise that at least after surgery, I’d know for sure if it’s cancer or not.
I hadn’t had a scare like this, ever. Friends and family, people I deal with at work, yes, scares, and even the kind when you come out of surgery and they tell you that, yes, it IS the worst thing you imagined. I am way too close to people who have heard it to think that it would never happen.
And yet, when I came out of surgery, with a small scar on my neck, my stereotype-busting Canadian surgeon was smiling and saying that it was all routine, and no cancer was found.
Thyroid cancer does not kill a lot of people, this is true. It’s not one of those kinds that you hear and know that your chances aren’t good, and I knew that going in, that the worst news for me would be way better news than so many others. But it would have changed my life, and the lives of those around me.
Last December was a time of not really being there. I was fine physically about two weeks later, but I hadn’t baked, I hadn’t decorated; my family got a tree as an afterthought on something like December 20th (they were really cheap, then!). And so this year I had known that something was different (including this blog!), but hadn’t put my finger on it until this week.
Many, many people were and will be diagnosed with cancer last December, and this December. I was not one of them, and I don’t take that lightly now or for granted. Any gratefulness I have this season springs out of that well, I think, and adds to the layers of all the Decembers in which I’ve felt like something was missing. Nothing is missing….in fact, in the words of Richard Rohr, everything belongs.