Living with Cancer #20 Closing out the year with thanks

This is my last column of the year. In most of the places it?s carried, this article will appear shortly before Christmas. You may even be reading this while taking a break from the busy-ness of cleaning, shopping, baking or any of the other things that occupy us as we begin the final countdown to December 25th.

So, I think it is only seasonally appropriate that I jot down a few words about being thankful, about the blessings in our lives.

A dear friend asked me yesterday, ?What is Santa going to bring to you this year?? It?s a common, even expected question, frequently answered with, ?Oh, nothing; I really don?t need anything.?

And so it was that I said to my friend, ?Nothing at all. I got a new lease on life this year, and I don?t think Santa can top that!?

I?m one of the lucky Canadians whose colorectal cancer was discovered early enough that it could be removed from my body. I am thankful for that, and for the successful surgery, and for the opportunity to recover in the warmth and comfort of my home, supported by loving family and friends. I?ve discovered the true meaning of ?blessed? for, perhaps, the first time in many years.

But my good friend wasn?t going to leave it at that.

?Here. Read this,? she said with her wonderful smile. ?I?m pretty sure you can relate.?

I did read it, and was humbled by the words. Most of us have so much to be thankful for, whether we live in splendor or scrape to get by. Most Canadians enjoy good health from birth to death. If you think you?re one of those lucky folks, count your blessings, because illness and disease have a nasty habit of showing up without calling ahead.

One in four of us will get cancer in one of its insidious forms during our time in this world. Some will leave too soon; some will linger too long. Thankfully, most Canadians diagnosed with cancer will beat it, allowed to live normal lives once again.

Neither my friend, nor I know who penned the following thoughts, so I apologize up front if I?m using your work without your blessing. But, whoever you are ? you?re blessed for having written them.

And may you, dear readers, be blessed for having read them.

Christmas Thanks

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep ? you are richer than 75 per cent of this world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet or pocket, or spare change in a dish somewhere ? you are among the top eight per cent of the world?s wealthy.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness ? you are more blessed than the millions who will not survive this week because of sickness and disease.

If you have never experienced the dangers of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation ? you are ahead of 500 million people, this year.

If you can attend church, or synagogue or mosque, or simply gather together to talk about your lives without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death ? you are more blessed than three billion people in this world.

If you can hold someone?s hand, hug them, even touch them tenderly on the arm ? you are blessed, because you are a healer.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful ? you are an inspiration, because the majority can, but most do not.

If you have been able to read this message ? you are truly blessed, for you have a gift that is not shared by more than two billion people on this earth.

And if you can take these words into your heart, be thankful for them, and pass them on to others ? you are most blessed indeed.