Thursday, May 21, 2009

Feeling Grateful

I keep waiting for the day when I'm one of those patients who reports for duty at the City of Hope once every six months. But, thanks to my recent complications, I've been driving to Duarte three times a week - a far cry from twice a year.

At least my frequent visits have reminded me of a few of the many things for which I'm grateful.

I'm a celebrity: Well, not really, but my doctor and all the staff treat me like one. I thought about this when I watched Farrah's Story and saw my doctor consulting with real-life celebrities Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal. All of us City of Hope patients get treated with the same level of care and compassion as a star. And we don't have to put up with the paparazzi.

I have enviable physical assets: Forgive me for bragging, but I have great veins. They are so outstanding that phlebotomists (blood takers) and nurses almost always comment on them. When I went in for my CT scan yesterday, the nurse said he didn't even need a tourniquet to pump my vein before the insertion of the IV. I'm an easy target and an easy blood draw and rarely feel a thing.

I wonder if Blood (a magzine for hematologists) would be interested in a center fold?

I'm covered: Cancer and serioius illnesses can be financially devastating, with or without insurance. (Mike C knows a thing or two about this.) In my case, all of my sky-high medical expenses (except for our annual deductible) have been completely covered. Not a day goes by that I don't thank God for this.

I'm surrounded: Loving, supportive, positive people are all around me, nearby and around the world. How about a giant group hug?

What about you? What are you grateful for these days?

(And, in case you're interested, those darn EOS went UP AGAIN. I am NOT thankful for that.)


susiegb said...

Nice question Susan.

I'm grateful for the gift of life, and the opportunity to appreciate it.

I'm really grateful to be in remission. And I'm also really grateful that I've somehow been given a very optimistic outlook on having lymphoma - through no conscious effort of my own. It has helped enormously.

And finally - even though I was really glad to hear that you have no insurance worries, I'm so glad that I live in a country where there is universal health coverage, and even if you choose to have private health insurance, you are covered completely (with whatever exceptions you may have agreed). I've been horrified to read some stories on a lymphoma board of people not being able to get the treatment they need because their insurance company won't cover a particular drug or treatment, or the hospital they go to is not covered by them for it, or some such. It's quite incomprehensible to me that this could happen, a fact for which I am supremely grateful!


Margaret said...

Let me see. These days I am grateful for the wind. I have just come to love sitting and listening to the leaves rustle when the wind blows. I am grateful for my work teaching. I love to teach. I am grateful to my friend Desiree who never lets me slack off. And I am grateful to you. I am grateful for your courage and your tenatiousness. I aspire to be just like you.

marinik said...

First off... you are right about City of Hope, the attention my husband gets there makes him feel soooo good.
These days... I am grateful for each day I get to have with my hubby, I'm grateful for my two boys (one hug, and I forget everything), and I'm grateful for having my mom and family nearby, life is too short to be away from the ones you love.
that's my bit, oh and hugs :)

Heat said...

I'm jealous of your veins! They were never able to get an IV into me in fewer than three tries; the day of six fails, they put in a PICC.

I am grateful for good health, good friends, a good job, and energy.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

My name's Melinda James and I host a radio show in Australia called Hair of the Blog. Each week we feature bloggers and I was wondering if you'd be interested? Your blog was passed on to me by a friend and I was impressed by your writing, your honesty and your humour. I'd love to have you on the show. It airs on Sunday morning Australian time, I think that's 12 or so hours ahead of you. But we could pre-record an interview if going live doesn't suit. You sound like a busy lady. Email me on both or or call me on +61 402 332 534 if you're interested.

Thanks a lot, Susan.

Melinda James

Marcy said...

I am grateful for the new friend I've found in you. You're always on my list of people I send a special prayer up for. Oh ya and the next time I have to donate blood can I "borrow" your veins? ;) ...If there's ever a "centerfold" I want an autographed copy! Bless you Susan, and Sweet dreams. xo~ PS: I left you a little something on my blog.

Susan C said...

It's been delightful to read these responses.

Susie, I'm with you about gratitude about still being in remission.

There's no doubt that our system in this country is broken. Oh, the horror stories are endless.

Margaret, The wind is wonderful, isn't it? I don't know about the courage part, but I do cop to being tenacious. Just call me Susan the Bull Dog.

Marinik, I'm so glad that CoH is treating your husband well. And your entire family sounds wonderful.

Heat, I never dreamed my veins would be the target of envy, but it's so true! Thank God for those PICC lines. Do you know about the rubber sleeve that you can pull over the PICC? You can shower and even swim with it on.

Melinda, I'd love to talk with you about the radio show and will email you.

Marcy, You're a treasure. Thank you for the gift on your blog.

Trish said...

visiting CoH 3 times a week, not exactly in your plans, eh?

I lol'd at the centerfold---not that you wouldn't qualify anyway, but some of us would LOVE to have veins like that. My doc refuses to put in a line b/c they get infected too easily. So unless I look totally like a pincushion, I'm stuck getting stuck. A lot.

Am SO glad you're covered. I'm covered too, but know too many people who aren't. Taking the worry out of the equation makes surviving cancer so much easier.

I'll take the group hug and would love someone to take our collective EOS down a few notches.

And woooow on the Australian ARE a celebrity.

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Sue G said...

Oh, Susan, to have your veins would make me VERY grateful! My veins are skinny and they roll, a nightmare for technicians. I have this theory that when God made me He said to Himself, "Well, I have to give this poor child something skinny," and He chose my veins. Nice, but they don't make up for not having a waist.

Anyway, gratitude...I am grateful for so much. God has brought me through challenges too numerous to mention. I could not have walked this walk without Him by my side.

I am grateful for the opportunity to grow, to change, to adapt, to have the free will to decide who I will be in any situation even though I may have no choice in what that situation may be.

I am grateful that each day brings new opportunities and more possibilities because each day is a new beginning.

I am grateful for laughter. I don't know how I would traverse this path without humor.

I am grateful for the color green. Coming from the Midwest and now living in the desert, I have a new appreciation of green.

Susan, like you, in the five and a half years of this cancer journey I have never made it to the six month plan. But, here I am, five and half years, five primary cancers later. To say I am grateful seems like loperbole (okay, so I made that up, but if we have a hyperbole for overstatement, why don't we have ... well, you get it).

I'm still waiting for that waist, tho.

Marilie said...

Susan, I just recently started reading your blog, and I love it. I'm glad I came across this post today - last night, and earlier today, I was feeling upset about some things, but you are right - there is plenty to be grateful for, even in the midst of struggle! I will keep you in my prayers, and come back to check your blog regularly for updates.

Oh - and I am grateful for my family's love, my health, and most of all that Yah wakes me up every morning and gives me another chance to get it right. :)

Piper Robert said...

I'm grateful I have the world's greatest sister.

I'm grateful I have garden hose veins and low blood pressure. Great veins must be a Strother trait. Whenever I give blood, I get lots of oohs and aahs.

Ronni Gordon said...

Definitely gateful to be in remission. Grateful for the great care I've received at Dana-Farber, and for kids and the rest of my family, for friends and yes, for good insurance. I'm not sure how much they have spent on me, but I'm sure it is bundles. And of course I'm grateful for the dog.

Susan C said...

Trish, Yes, we both have a lot to be grateful for, but I wouldn't mind if lower (or no) EOS was on our list.

Sue, What a great list! I'm skinny, but can you believe I still don't have a skinny waist?

Marilie, Thanks for reading and your good thoughts. I was really getting into a funk about another (non-health) issue in my life until I re-realized how much I have to be thankful for.

Robert, Aw, shucks. I'm grateful for a great, supportive brother too. I didn't realize that great veins and low blood pressure were Strother traits.

Ronni, I'm really grateful for your remission too.

Jaycan said...

HeY Susan,
I;m a Jamaican RN writing from the Cayman Islands. Somehow I managed to come across your blog a few weeks ago and I'm really loving it. I actually started one recently and my last post on Monday was "hope and gratitude" Many times we fail to acknowledge that we have so much to give thanks for. I'm grateful for life and getting another perspective on a person living with Lymphoma. My best friend has Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma and 12 years ago, she was given less than 6 months to live!!! I'm grateful that she vowed to fight and she is alive today.
Keep blogging, you're an inspiration.

Jaycan said...

HeY Susan,
I;m a Jamaican RN writing from the Cayman Islands. Somehow I managed to come across your blog a few weeks ago and I'm really loving it. I actually started one recently and my last post on Monday was "hope and gratitude" Many times we fail to acknowledge that we have so much to give thanks for. I'm grateful for life and getting another perspective on a person living with Lymphoma. My best friend has Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma and 12 years ago, she was given less than 6 months to live!!! I'm grateful that she vowed to fight and she is alive today.
Keep blogging, you're an inspiration.

Susan C said...

Jaycan, Just visited your blog. It's powerful. Hope you keep visiting and keep writing.

Nelle said...

Susan, each day I am grateful for the gift of another day. I am grateful for my long term survival and all the wonderful people that I have come to know because of having cancer. I am grateful that my son is a cancer survivor. I am grateful for people like you who understand it all. I am grateful for Ronni being able to go home this weekend. I love life and I am grateful for that. I only have ONE vein left which is getting tapped each month. My others collapse and I have had many blown over the years. Great entry!

altadenahiker said...

Susan, we all want to hear you on the radio! Find out if the station streams.

Susan C said...

AH, I'm being interviewed today between 2:30 and 3:30. I'll find out about the "streaming."

bec said...

im grateful for this blog. a very close friend of mine is having tests for lung cancer. hes 18. i cant even begin to imagine what he's going through. but i hope he can be as positive as you are.

Nancy said...

Susan, you are becoming famous all over the world!!!

I'm jealous of your veins. As many commented, I have small and weak, rolling veins. It once took seven tries and three nurses to get a line in so that I can get a blood transfusion. I begged to come back the next day, but the nurses insisted they'd be in trouble if they let me walk out. I think my RBC was 7.0 that day. I was traumatized by all the poking and prodding. I vowed to always drink a gallon of water one day before my appointments to help with the hydration and hopefully plump up my veins a bit.

I'm grateful to be in remission. I'm grateful to be surrounded by very supportive family and friends. I'm grateful that I met you as you keep me grounded and entertained each time I read your blog and see you in person! I'm grateful for God bringing me through so many challenges. I'm grateful for tomorrow as it always promises to be new and exciting! In other words, "Never A Dull Moment!" And, finally, even though I complain about it, I am grateful for my health insurance even though I have HORRENDOUS copays, because, without it, I'd be destitute. xoxo n

rachel said...

suzan i just started reading your blog today and i loved it your i like your writing style and your sense of humor in your writing. my grandmother was dignosed with liver cancer. I look up to people like you with a love for live everyday to the fullest..:)

Nancy said...

i am grateful that my husbands cancer was found early enough that he is now celebrating 16 years cancer free, the same age as our third daughter. He was diagnosed when she was 5 weeks old. every day since then has been a blessing. no more waiting til tomorrow to use the good china or take a family vacation. You never know how many days you get with the people you love, so make everyone count.

Petrea said...

This post is one of my favorites of yours.

Susan C said...

Nelle, You are such a shining example of a giving, positive person who has faced a load of challenges but still keeps rising.

Bec, 18 is so young to be going through all of this. I'm grateful that your friend has you for support. If you would like recommendations for resources for young adult cancer patients, let me know.

Nancy (1), "Never a dull moment" - Boy, isn't that a mouthful for both of us! Sometimes it seems completely overwhelming, but I wouldn't want it any other way. I'm so grateful you came and introduced yourself while I was at Hotel Hope.

Hi Rachel, Thanks for reading. I'll bet you bring a lot of joy to your grandmother. And I hope that her treatment goes well.

Nancy (2), Sometimes I fear that I'm going to "forget" all the "lessons" I'm supposed to be learning. Great for you for continuing to cherish your husband and to sieze the day 16 years later.

Thanks, Petrea. The comments have certainly been among my favorite. So much joy of life in spite of great challenges.

Barbara Roth said...

I am grateful that I know you. What a special, unique and amazing woman you are. Every time I agonize over some triviality I think of your grace and poise and intelligence as you deal with the very serious stuff life has thrown at you.

The Fit Reality Chick said...

Susan, you're such an inspiration, and so positive about life. Truly as you go through your journey, you provoke gratefulness in everyone who has the fortune to read your insights. Thank you :) Margie

Susan C said...

Hi Barbara, I'm still grateful that we got to keep you after that infamous breakup!

Margie, Just checked out your blog and I love it. Lots of inspirational stuff there.

Casey said...

Hi Susan,
I stumbled upon your blog and find your story to be truly inspiring. I too am a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma when I was 22 years old. I am now almost 26, 3 1/2 years in remission and expecting my first baby. Thanks for being such an inspiration!

Susan C said...

Casey, I am so THRILLED that you're expecting your first baby. Congratulations!

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