When you are in the throes of the daily grind, it is easy to forget what a blessing and privilege it is to be able to live in the throes of life. No one’s next minute is ever promised. My work is a daily reminder of how fragile, miraculous, and delicate life is. Each breath is truly a gift. It is an honor to work with people as an advocate. I’m grateful for the physicians, nurses, and members of the healthcare system that truly care and push to make a difference in people’s lives. I’m grateful for the incredible network and community of passionate people I have been fortunate to become surrounded and supported by. I’m grateful for the many new opportunities that were extended to me in 2018, the chance to speak and elevate the patient and carepartner’s voice, the chance to travel and immerse myself at conferences, learn new things, meet new people. I’m grateful for the support of the many written pieces I was able to publish this year, the conversations that ensued, the disagreements that followed. Making connections and fostering conversations with broad spectrums of opinions is something I hope to continue to do. It’s within these conversations that change can spark, connections can be made. I’m grateful for every piece of criticism I’ve received, no matter how harsh, as each word has challenged me to dig deeper to confirm my position is credible, challenged me to contemplate and learn more, or challenged me to build even thicker skin. I’m grateful for my family who supports me as I work to do what I believe will make a difference in healthcare. It’s not all patient advocacy, there is a life at home that needs me just as much and most days, even more. My heart aches for those who aren’t healthy, who are struggling with metastatic disease, who are alone, who have lost a loved one this year. I pray for strength to carry them through this Thanksgiving.

As I have my coffee this morning, listening to my children giggling and laughing in the background, in a home that is filled with the aroma of pumpkin cupcakes that are finishing in the oven, I’m eternally grateful and count all of my blessings. My wish for all of you is the happiest of Thanksgivings. May everything that brings you joy, love, happiness, & warmth be near & in sight, today & always.

'Tis The Season To Be Grateful

          While having coffee the other day, I came across a video called The Thank You Project (please see link below). Watch it. I assure you, it’s worth 5 minutes of your time. In 2004, Kellie Haddock, her husband, and their 14 week old son were involved in a horrible car accident. Her husband was killed on impact and their son was severely injured.  In her heartbreaking tale, she recounts the roller coaster ride she endured while her son’s life was in limbo. Ten years later, she tracked down the team of heroes who saved her son’s life to formally thank each and every one of them and personally invite them to a big thank you party. The video is gut wrenching, beautiful, and reinstates one’s belief in humanity. While the entire scope of the The Thank You Project resonated with me, there was one moment that spoke volumes. A nurse said she had never been thanked before after the fact. “Guilty.”, I thought in a mix of my own disappointment and disbelief. In my life thus far, I’ve experienced many hospital stays and visits from a variety of angles, encompassing family members, friends, clients, as well as myself. I’ve seen and experienced many wonderful doctors, nurses, and medical staff who provided exceptional care. I may have uttered a thank you in passing but I’ve never wrote a thank you note afterwards for their amazing care, let alone approached them in person. I’ve never formally thanked them for their dedication and nurturing. For their expertise. For their tenderness in tending to the wounds of my loved ones or my own.  For being there when they were needed the most.

          Just this past Saturday, my father was rushed to the hospital and into emergency surgery. At 2:10 am I was in the surgical lounge waiting for the doctor to come back with an update. Closing my eyes briefly while fighting to stay awake, I heard snippets of conversation floating from the kitchen across the silent hall. The nurses were chatting while heating up their lunch. I couldn’t help but overhear the following:

“I missed my daughter’s holiday concert this evening. Second year in a row. We’ve been so busy I just couldn’t call out.”

 “It’s been awful leaving my sick kids every night. I know my husband can take care of them, but it’s still not easy, especially leaving the 5 month old. I hope her fever isn’t as high.”

“ I haven’t told my kids that I’m working on Christmas again.”

(Paging interrupted the conversation and a rush of motion could be heard down the hall.)

“Sorry, girls. Got to go save some lives.”, said one woman as she ran back to the nurse’s station.

            At that moment, I was snapped back to reality. These nurses, doctors, and the endless numbers of medical technicians and staff were here, at now approximately 2:30 in the morning, literally saving and sustaining lives, putting their private lives at home on hold. 

          It is customary to give stylists at salons a gratuity for services such as haircuts, hair coloring, and blow-dries. We tip the bartenders for our drinks and the wait staff at restaurants for our meals well served. We tip the manicurist and the pizza delivery guy. With the holidays upon us, ‘tis the season to be grateful. Commit to always taking a moment to write down the names of the nurses, doctors, technicians, and medical care staff that provide you and your loved ones with healing and life sustaining care. The least we can do is say “Thank You”. I know I’ll never forget again.