I sat in a sterile hospital room, staring at the Walmart receipt in my hand, forgotten in a bag of gifts my friend mailed to us. It felt like a relic from our old life. A symbol of all that was normal—all that I might never get back again.
We were a month into a 40-day hospital stay. My mind was still trying to make sense of how a regular check-up could reveal cancer in my 2-year-old son. How less than 24 hours later, he had his first dose of chemotherapy, and now we were a cancer family.
Memories Of A Normal Life
That receipt, filled with sippy cups, diapers, and snacks, seemed to represent everything our life had been—everything I’d taken for granted. I wondered If I’d ever get the opportunity to appreciate it the way I should have.
It’s been over a year now since my son’s 3-year cancer treatment ended. Every day, I find myself grateful for so many things. They’re mostly the simple things in life.
1. School Dropoff And Pickup
The simple act of dropping off two healthy boys at school still takes my breath away. I remember the days our youngest had to return home with me—not healthy enough to go to school—and I am grateful to watch them race through the doors together.
When I pick them up, lips red and skin glowing with health, I’m thankful I get to listen to their stories about all the extraordinarily ordinary things they did that day.
2. Family Time
Before Cooper was diagnosed, our schedule was jam-packed with activities. But cancer treatment (and its side effects) forced us to wipe the slate clean, to slow down.
Now that Cooper’s cancer treatment is over, we still schedule weekends to stay home and just be together as a family, and I am grateful.
3. The Body’s Amazing Ability To Fight And Heal
We were a fairly healthy family before Cooper’s cancer diagnosis. I took it for granted when a scraped knee healed in a matter of days or a cold didn’t result in a hospitalization.
But now I know that health is a privilege we are lucky to have. I’m grateful a fever no longer means a trip to the emergency room, and I’m in awe at how wonderfully our bodies are made to fight and heal.
I don’t ever want to be the person holding the Walmart receipt with regret again. Now I know what I’ve been given, and I’m grateful for it.
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