By DARRIN SMITH
This time of year, it’s so easy for me to think of all the things I am thankful for and each year brings more and more things to add to the list. This year we have 10 years of clear scans for me after which makes it easy to be very thankful for another year above ground. That makes me think of the old saying about any day above ground being a good day. I hope everyone else had a wonderful Thanksgiving and had much to be thankful for as well.
Ten years ago, when that cancer diagnosis came in it seemed like the end of our world around here. One day everything was fine and the next moment everything got turned on its head. A routine bloodwork turned out to show my triglycerides were off the charts. My doctor told me if I wanted to live to see 40, I better start walking that day and eating right. Well, three days of walking led to a severe pain in my leg and after some poking around I found a knot where the pain was originating. A trip to the doctor led to scans that day which led to an MRI the same day, which led to Vanderbilt in Nashville and surgery the following week to remove the tumor. Bad blood work led to an early discovery which led to a quick diagnosis and removal. I was extremely lucky! That has been on the thankful list ever since.
After 40 radiation treatments and a clean bill of health, my doctor thought it would be a great idea to send us to Emory in Atlanta to see a sarcoma specialist just to be sure before being released. The specialist told us that I needed to start chemo immediately because my type of cancer would almost positively try to come back. She admitted me that day and ran some more scans. Sure enough, the cancer had metastasized to my lungs. Thankfully we caught it early and I was already in the hospital for treatment. Chemo began that day and after a few adjustments it started to work shrinking the tumors in my lungs. Another thing to be thankful for ever since.
Although I thought chemo was killing me, the scary part was the infection that kept coming back and sending me to the hospital with a 105 temperature every so often. I was taking chemo locally because it was not practical to drive all the way to Atlanta for treatments, so I would get admitted locally when the infection would hit. We quickly discovered I have an extreme allergy to certain antibiotics. After the third time of my local oncologist almost killed me with antibiotics from the same family, we decided to fire them and find another. Thankfully, we found the most wonderful oncologist in the world in Rome. She changed everything about my treatments and before we knew it, everything was back on track and I started to recover almost immediately. Changing doctors probably saved my life and for that we are eternally thankful.
Although cancer came into our lives and pretty much destroyed a year of it in 2008-09, we made it through and now each year is marked with another year of things to be thankful about. Suffering through that year was one of the hardest things imaginable but thanks to great doctors, a wonderful family, friends who went the extra mile, and constant support we made it through. Thanks to generous friends and family and an amazing fundraiser a group special friends and family put together, we somehow made it through without being financially ruined as well. The power stayed on, the grass got mowed, we made it to all the doctors’ appointments, and the bills got paid. For everyone who contributed to that, you have no idea that lasting impact your generosity meant and still means to us! Words can never express the thankfulness we have in our hearts and I just wanted to take this moment to flashback to that time and say Thank You! I’m so thankful how everything came together! I hope that when some tragedy strikes, you too will be able to look back and find those things to be thankful for no matter what.
It’s just a thought but one worth thinking.