By Hank Lech
Recently, I was reflecting on everything that had come up since my chordoma diagnosis and surgery.
In the process, I recalled the F I made on my very first exam in seminary. That F turned out to be something to be thankful for. It motivated me. I ended up doing well in the class and in my other classes.
Could I be thankful for my cancer diagnosis, surgery and recovery, just as I had been thankful for the F?
What I'm grateful for after cancer treatment
After some reflection, here is what I am thankful for after cancer treatment:
- I am thankful for family, friends and co-workers who care. Sometimes we forget that friends and family care and are there for us without needing to ask.
- I am thankful for co-workers who took up my responsibilities, checked up on me and cheered me up.
- I am thankful for my daughter who has been a joy and helpful and for her mother who made sure things around the house were cared for.
- Former students, parishioners and others provided me their prayers and support during my cancer treatment. Even people I thought may have forgotten about me were there for me.
- I cannot forget how thankful I am for my seminary classmates and priests who celebrated Mass for me and had the nuns praying.
- I am thankful for the people who were praying for me, even though I did not know them, and how we bonded through this. I learned, again, that prayer does work.
- I am thankful for doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapist as well as other caregivers who comforted me and showed me where the pain pump button was.
- I really appreciate life and every breath even more, especially after planning my funeral -- it would have been a great celebration -- and getting things in order before I had chordoma surgery.
- I am thankful that I can laugh about my cancer journey.
- I am also thankful that I can suffer with those who have cancer and support them as they support me.
Being thankful for both the good and the bad
The F and the cancer were low points in my life, yes, and there are times I am still angry. But we all have those points.
We have a choice: we can whine and complain (which I did), or we can open up the gift and be thankful.
I try to be thankful for not only the good things but also the bad. Both are gifts. We need to be thankful and see how we can use the gifts and what they teach us.
Hank Lech was ordained a Catholic priest but left active ministry. He has been in the social work field for many years. He has one daughter who is in college. He enjoys carpentry, gardening and cooking.