Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Giving thanks on Turkey Day and every day

Breast cancer upshot — a grateful patient who survived, a grateful surviving caregiver

Thanksgiving is but a blink and a quarter away.

Which triggers thoughts about what I'm grateful for (parallel, I expect, to what most folks living in these United States experience).

This year, my wife's 20th free of breast cancer, I'm particularly thankful for her survival. And for my having survived.

And for every day we're alive.

Being a patient can be tough under the best of circumstances. Being a caregiver certainly isn't easy. Facing a life-threatening disease can make it all the more difficult.

I shudder even now when recalling what we've had to deal with — the malady, its treatments and aftermath, an unrelenting up and down journey that I've chronicled in my new VitalityPress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer."

Rainbows bounce off dining room table in
the home of Woody Weingarten and Nancy Fox.
But the image I try to retain in my mind is totally positive. It's of the circular glass-top table in our dining room, one whose artistic acrylic base acts as a prism that turns natural sunbeams into rainbows streaming throughout the room.

Fantabulous! Breathtaking! Not bad!

Twenty years ago we'd wanted to replace our unattractive rectangular wooden table that was surrounded by eight uncomfortable wooden chairs that could have passed for a torture rack.

So we looked, and we looked, and we looked.

Furniture store after discount store after department store.

Nada! Zilch! Diddly squat!

Then, after months of searching, we chanced across a wondrous table at an upscale showroom in Berkeley. We couldn't come close to affording it.

So we decided to track down the San Francisco-based Russian émigré artist who'd created it. And we did.

We asked him if he could build a less expensive version for us. He could.

But we still couldn't afford it.

So we let it go.

Until a couple of months later, when my wife, Nancy Fox, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

We both were terrified she might die — soon.

So we instantly decided to buy the table, figuring we needed to live "here and now" and enjoy whatever we could with whatever time she had left.

Two decades later we're still enjoying the furniture.

Every day.

Even when it's cloudy and there are no rainbows.

And we've mentally amortized its cost so, in our minds, we could afford it.

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