A Thank You to the Ones Who Walked with Us Through Cancer

“Whatever it takes,” he said to me as he held me close. “I will walk every step of the way with you through cancer.”

These words that my husband said to me are ones that I will never forget after I told him I was diagnosed with cancer. What we had no idea of was just how many people and how much it would actually take for us to navigate through cancer and survivorship.

Being in the heart of the holiday season, expressing gratitude to those who worked hard for us, walked faithfully alongside us, and selflessly helped us seems very fitting. Even though cancer presented many challenges along the way, the people who stepped in made a counteracting impact to make the difficult trek a little lighter.

(Not everyone stuck around during the journey. While I still don’t fully understand why some walked away, I am grateful for those who drew close and the unexpected arrivals of support that we received. There will always be good and bad in this life, but with the little energy that I had during cancer treatment, focusing on the positive was uplifting and life changing in and of itself.)

Here are some people that I would like to express gratitude for today:

To my husband: I could never go without thanking God for my amazing husband first and foremost. He really did walk every step of the way with me. From dressing changes, to not missing a single appointment or ER visit, to making sure I always had everything I needed at all times, my love for him grew more than I knew was even possible during cancer treatment. He lived out his vows in gentleness, love, and loyalty then and now.

To our families: Cancer not only impacts the person diagnosed, but deeply aches the hearts of those within your immediate circle as well. Our families stepped up and loved us in powerful ways. My parents hosted us for 6 months as we temporarily relocated from Colorado to Texas for treatment and our families made time to share their love with us and updates with extended family and friends when we didn’t have the capacity to do so ourselves.

To our medical teams: Crossing over multiple states of doctor’s offices, surgery centers, cancer centers, hospitals, and ER’s in Colorado and Texas. Our doctors, nurses, MA’s, NRP’s, PA’s, phlebotomists, chemo/radiation/surgery teams, fertility specialists, and imaging specialists and teams that analyze and deliver the results. To every person who works so hard on research, development, and trials to find a cure for cancer: We couldn’t have done this without you. 

I also don’t want to forget our receptionists that get us checked in, social workers that work alongside us on the front lines, and the financial center that tackles the difficult task of verifying our insurance, helping us maximize our benefits, and being the messenger of coverage even when it’s hard. (I know I am missing people; please know I am so grateful for each of you!)

To cancer patients/survivors: Sitting in waiting rooms with you and watching your determination and resilience to fight inspired me each day. I am so grateful for those who opened up their hearts with us sharing their journeys, praying with us, encouraging us, and giving us tips along the way. Every time you listened to our story, we felt like we healed a little more, too. You are amazing humans. God bless you, each one.

To caregivers: I am so thankful for my husband being the most amazing caregiver to me, so I can’t help but thank all of the caregivers who share this kind of selfless love and servitude for loved ones. I pray that you have all the strength that you need each day and want to let you know that you are a hero for the person that you love so well. Thank you.

To our friends, old and new: I have never seen such love from great friends and complete strangers. From setting up a Go Fund Me Account, to sending “monthly boxes of sunshine”, to calls, emails, texts, and visits, I have never felt such love. People that did things anonymously that we will never be able to thank by name to those whose names showed up every day in our lives. We are so grateful for your presence, donations, prayers, and love through cancer. 

To Nonprofit Organizations: Wow, y’all are special. The people behind the fundraising, donations, and services blessed our lives richly. You have hearts of gold for the countless hours you spend on all that you do to make a difference for us and for each person you meet. We didn’t even know what all was going on until our social worker shared with us the amazing love that nonprofits lavish on those in need. Thank you very much for all that you did and continue to do!

To our “Survivorship Team”: Cancer free was not something we were certain that I would see, but I am so grateful to say that I am. My psycho-oncologist (counselor specializing in cancer patients/survivors), Integrative Medicine Team (PT, acupuncture, oncology massage), Dietitian, and continued care from my medical teams has helped tremendously in survivorship as there are lots of questions and healing that I work towards every day. Thank you for your continued care.

I can’t help but thank God for placing each one of these amazing people, teams, groups, and individuals in my life during cancer, and now in survivorship. I battle chronic pain from treatment and am still healing in many ways, but I am humbled to be alive today with so much to be grateful for. 

I know this list isn’t exhaustive as so many others showed up for us then and now. This holiday season I want to maintain an attitude of gratitude that carries through all seasons keeping things into perspective (even on the most difficult days). This life has many ups and downs yet there is much love, joy, and hope to be found if we only take the time to look for it. 

I am praying for you through your journey and this holiday season. You are loved, not alone, and many people are fighting on your behalf day in and day out. 

We will never give up on each other, whatever it takes.