<<Sept 10 Gratitude>> What cancer cannot steal.
Yesterday my husband, Ryan’s, van was broken into.  The thieves smashed his window and stole his backpack.  They stole his backpack containing his laptop, essential for his business, perhaps a little bit of cash, and a stack of my “business cards” that Ryan likes to hand out.  As I was messaging my friend this morning to report my gratitude for today I said, “its one of those ARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!! Kinda things: why? WHY? WHY???!!” So little use for the thief (the laptop was actually on its last leg), yeah a bit of cash, but a HUGE inconvenience for Ryan: having to retrieve his files, replace his computer, get a new backpack, and fix the van window.  It feels so pointless, what a pointless crime!
As I take time to process my anger I find sadness as well.  It seems silly, but that backpack was a gift I gave Ryan close to 15 years ago.  He has used it regularly ever since.  My husband is the hardest guy to a present for.  I remember driving all over Saskatoon to find a laptop backpack for him.  I found a good one, (and he didn’t try to return it!) and he’s been using it for years.  Today I sit in my sadness that his backpack, and what that signifies, is stolen, gone.
Anger.  Today I am angry that these thieves stole from us, what was not theirs.  Anger is not one of my common emotions and I find that it usually points to a deeper emotion within me.  As I let myself sit in my anger it surfaces.  The pointlessness of it all precipitates thoughts like these, (Oh they are ugly…) “Why did I get the cancer, why don’t people like these thieves get their lives interrupted and shortened with cancer?!”  These angry questions lead further to ones I don’t think I’ve really even asked yet:   “WHY me!? Why did I get this nasty cancer??!!!  I was a thriving member of society, a medical professional, a mom of three young children, in my prime!  Why me, God? Why me???!!!!”  
It makes no sense, it makes me angry and sad all mixed together.  Historically, I avoid allowing myself to feel these difficult emotions.  I put up a stony shield of indifference, a sort of “they can’t hurt me!” kind of attitude.  However, this past year I have learned from Brene Brown, that if I numb pain (by forging a stony shield of indifference to the hurt), I will also numb joy.  I don’t know about you, but I will take all the joy I can get.  So it is good to sit in the anger and the pain for a moment.
But only for a moment.  (How long is a moment? I imagine it depends on the hurt – when I was first diagnosed with glioblastoma, my counselor told me that it was okay to sit in my sadness,grief, anger etc. of my diagnosis for 1 week.  After that, she said, I needed to employ measures to process and move forward.)
Yesterday when Ryan’s car was broken into he was with a group of people, each one of them with their own story of their own car being broken into.  For me that was a reminder that we’re all in this life together.  We’ve all had something stolen from us.  This gave me perspective.  And it pushed me forward.  Because to sit asking, “Why me?!” is like being a car stuck in the mud spinning it’s wheels, going nowhere, and sending muck flying in all directions.  So instead of asking the question without an answer, “Why me?” I choose to focus instead on what I can control.  As I practice gratitude I remember that I can control my perspective.    
I am reminded of the poem “What Cancer Cannot Do” that my dear friend sent to me when I was first diagnosed with Glioblastoma.  It was eyeopenning and a perspective shifter.
In light of yesterday’s events I frame that poem as “What Cancer Cannot Steal From Me.” And I remember that cancer CANNOT steal and these thieves CANNOT steal love, friendship, hope, peace, joy, and contentment from me!
I find scripture to be very encouraging and helpful in maintaining the perspective I desire.  I’ve been reading these words of a guy named Paul in the bible.  He speaks about the importance of a joy that can always be found.  He speaks that he has learned the secret of how to get along happily with much or with little.  He speaks about thinking about things that are praise-worthy.  It sounds a lot like this gratitude journey I’ve been invited on.
Gratitude is thinking about matters that are praise-worthy— in times of much and in times of little.  
The reward of gratitude? A joy that cannot be stolen.
Let’s sit with THAT for longer than a moment!  Always remembering what cancer CANNOT steal, what thieves CANNOT steal!
I will close with an invitation.  I invite you into this journey with me, whatever your journey looks like.  Whether you have cancer, know someone with cancer, or cancer hasn’t really touched your life.   Whether spirituality is a part of your life or not.  Whether you believe in God, the power of the universe, other faith-based beliefs, or you’re not sure.  I invite you into this journey with me asking for grace as I speak from the voice (and acknowledged bias) of my own personal faith and grace as I seek to understand other faiths and belief systems more clearly.  Regardless of the paths of our journeys, I strongly feel that we are all better journeying together.  (Remember I shared that it is only because of the invitation of my dear friend that I am on this deepened gratitude journey— and oh how thankful for that I am!)  I sincerely thank you for journeying with me.