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Cancer is not a blessing. No one who receives that dreadful diagnosis reacts by thinking how lucky they are to have this disease.

While the truth of illness in our bodies can be devastating, many of the events and emotions that come into play during treatment can reveal to us the beauty of our lives and those with whom we share it.

When I began treatment, I was amazed at the outpouring of support I received. Distant cousins, friends, neighbors and co-workers sent cards and letters, flowers and gifts to let me know they were pulling for me during a tough time.

And while it saddened me to realize that some of those who I thought would be with me on the front lines of my cancer battle were in fact not going to be around at all, I learned how important it is to let go of expectations that can’t be met and release my soul from disappointment, anger, or any of the other negative emotions that can clog the pipes of our personal happiness.

Facing what might have been a terminal illness, I learned that life really is a gift, and that those we love and cherish are the bows and ribbons that make each day so sweet and wonderful.

Instead of worrying about our retirement savings and my two year old son’s future, I relished the fact that my home was warm, my child happy and my husband the rock solid partner I had once wondered would ever come my way.

When my teenage stepson was afraid or angry about what was happening to us, I practiced patient understanding and achieved a deeper connection with him. And when people I expected would’ve been there for me disappeared, I moved on, glad to know a truth I might not have realized before, and grateful for the lesson life was providing.

So while I can’t say that cancer was a blessing, I can absolutely say that I came out of the experience a much calmer, wiser, stronger and happier person than I was going in. Maybe it would’ve been easier to never have had to face what I did, but being on the other side, I am grateful for the chance to become who I now am.

This week, as those who celebrate Christmas open gifts and share the warmth and joy of the day with those they love, Debbie and I hope you’ll look inside your own heart and revel in the gift your very own life bestows on those you choose to have near you –the happiness and inspiration your presence on this earth brings.

Blessings on us – everyone!

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