This Thanksgiving, as our family counts our blessings, we have so much for which to be thankful: For the strength to fight cancer and tolerate the treatment...for the courage to face this daunting challenge....for the hope and optimism to beat this disease...for the skill and knowledge of the doctors and the compassion of nurses. But above all, our gratitude runs deepest for all of the love and support we have received from our friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and many others, including people we've never met before.
Over the past six months, these caring people have provided Karen with a daily infusion that's far more powerful than any of the drugs that have flowed from her IV bag during chemotherapy. Their generous infusion of support counteracts the fear of cancer and the sick fog of chemotherapy. Their care and concern is a kind of anti-toxin -- a remedy that nurtures Karen's spirit and has sustained all of us during these past months. Indeed, the support of those who love you is a cure itself.
A year from now, when we think back to this time, our memories won't be of the diagnosis or the treatment, but rather, it will be of the many simple acts of kindness, friendship and love that have been repeated every day along this "journey", including:
- Soft blankets and a hand-woven prayer shawl -- gifts from Karen's friends -- have provided warmth and comfort during long chemo sessions.
- Over three dozen family, friends, colleagues and neighbors have provided gift cards and meals -- from homemade soups to roast chicken with mashed potatoes. From slow-cooked ribs to Turkey Tetrazzini. From chicken Marsala to Cuban chicken. From Mexican lasagna to meatballs made from a friend's secret family recipe. Some meals arrive with bottles of wine and even dog biscuits for Caramel. Every dish was special -- not only for its unique flavors and the talent of the cooks, but because of the time, energy, care and thoughtfulness that went into preparing and delivering them.
- Friends and family have bought Karen a myriad of hats and scarves -- colorful, fun, practical, whimsical and too many to count. They allow Karen to make a fashion statement every day and keep her bare head warm as the weather gets colder.
- Other friends have sent over their "cleaning lady" to help with household chores -- a generous gesture and a big help for me since my job forced me to travel almost every week.
- With 16 rounds of chemo -- all in Philadelphia -- we were fortunate to have a reliable group of friends who drove Karen to many of her treatments and spent nearly a day at the Penn breast cancer center with Karen as she met with her doctor and received her infusion.
- Care packages filled with lotions and other soothing items, books, magazines and CDs to help make each day a little easier.
- And a steady stream of flowers, phone calls, emails and cards -- enough to fill a shopping bag -- continue to arrive with words of encouragement, support and offers of prayers.
These are simple acts that have had a powerful impact on us -- especially Karen.
This past year has been a long and often difficult one. But it has been made easier because of all that our friends and family have shared with us. It's difficult to imagine getting through this without such incredible support. I recently came across a fitting Turkish proverb, "No road is long with good company." Battling cancer is often a long road, but with good company -- friends, family, co-workers and neighbors -- that road is made shorter and less bumpy.