By Rayva L.G. Harrell
In this month and season that the world sets aside for Thanksgiving, I am gently reminded each day of the many things God has given me to be thankful for. Of course this includes my family, friends, and dream team of angels. But most of the ordinary things we forget or assume to be a normal way of life – springing out of bed without nausea, a simple trip to the grocery store without a mask, energy that lasts throughout the day without a nap(s) or the simple refreshing taste of water that now assumes the metallic chemical taste of the poison that could provide life. Cancer changes everything!!!
I was given a book very shortly after my stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis (with metastasis to my liver). It is called What Cancer Cannot Do – Stories of Hope and Encouragement. The book sat for days, weeks, even after I had begun my first chemo treatment. My admittance and acceptance had not sunk in yet. Was this book for ME? However one morning when I was in a very dark place I reached for the book of simple stories, scriptures of peace laced with information to encourage, many from survivors. It soothed my soul and has often been what I need in the wee hours between the moon of night and sunrise of another day.
Cancer has become my wake up call. I believe that God must have given me all of this because he knew I could handle it (Oh yes, in May I also suffered a stroke). In the 8 short weeks since I began chemo treatment, amongst anger, sadness, disbelief, and emotions that flip like a switch, I have discovered a new found relationship of thanksgiving for the awareness of life and living.
On October 25th when picking up my LA Cancer Challenge bib number for the walk the next day, I met Allison Miller, a warm and friendly woman who then introduced me to Ms. Agi Hirshberg who greeted me with a loving embrace that will never be forgotten. My acquaintance to this disease is new and unfamiliar still but my initiation to the Hirshberg Foundation feels like home. The work that the Foundation continues doing year after year, season after season is true through the efforts of research and endless hours of dedication, education, and determination of finding a cure for this beast. If it’s truly the work that God has called us to do, then he will help us do it, and we will find goodness and fulfillment in it.
As the year closes out and a new one of hope begins, let us all remember to be thankful the entire year round. All are not called for the same purpose, and all will fight and not win the battle. However “there is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great and no tonic so powerful, as expectation of something better tomorrow.“