POSTED BY SIDNEY THE THIRD.
Brain cancer is life-changing. For me, a 17-year-old male who has been healthy his entire life, it changes my perspective.
I could have lost consciousness while driving.
I could have slipped into a coma.
I could have just died one day with no clear reason.
But I am still here, and this Thanksgiving Day, I am incredibly thankful for that fact. And this entire experience has shown me all the things I have taken for granted my entire life, and now miss the most.
I am thankful for my previously perfect health.
I am thankful for my excellent 20/15 eyesight, previously unimpaired.
I am thankful for the physical strength that I no longer have.
I am thankful that my pineal gland was apparently useless anyway, because I do not have the sleepless nights that many who lose that organ experience.
I am thankful that, as it turns out, I really don’t need that 25% of my lower left lung.
Also, the bragging rights are a definite plus. Few 17 year olds can say that they have had two brain surgeries and a chest surgery, and I think that is very cool. My collection of the chemical elements now includes the titanium in the back of my skull, and the vial of gadolinium solution that I managed to get from an MRI control room.
Through these months, I have lost so much. But I feel that what I have gained is far more valuable. I have gained wisdom and understanding of other’s struggles, because I know what they are going through. This trial has forced me to count my blessings, and to realize that I am rich in blessings, far beyond what I ever realized.
And I find that this Thanksgiving, the thing that I am most thankful for is the very same thing that has always been my most treasured possession, especially at Thanksgiving.
That is the family who loves me.
Thanksgiving is the holiday I look forward to more than any other. I love Christmas, I love birthdays, but Thanksgiving is the one day of the year that all of us come together to celebrate what we have: each other. I never think on the drive, “Oh God, I hope so-and-so isn’t there,” or “Maybe if I pretend they don’t exist, they will just leave me alone.” I love my family, and I know that they love me too.
The fact that I could not be with the rest of you this year was painful. I have spent every Thanksgiving of my life with you all, and I desperately wanted to be there this year.
But I am very happy because I spent this Thanksgiving with my parents and siblings, and this year, I am most thankful of all for them, and the wonderful memories I have of them.
I am thankful for my father, who works hard to provide for his family, and who wishes he could take my burden from me.
For my mother, who juggles the logistics of shopping and cooking in shared kitchens so that her 17-year-old baby boy can eat healthy food while he is ill.
For my brother Lincoln, who has quickly been given more responsibility than any 15-year-old should have, and has risen to the challenge admirably.
For my sister Rachel, who loves all things flamingo and is so tender-hearted that she cries for the dead butterfly that she finds, and then preserves its beauty in a bookmark.
And for my youngest sister Prairie, the horse fanatic, who sends me jokes in my email and includes a detailed explanation to make sure that I “get it.”
I am thankful for my family. Thank you for always being there for me. Thank you for loving me.
I love all of you.