Thanking Your Cancer Care Team
How a cancerversary and other dates can remind us to show gratitude to all of the healthcare workers who have helped us on our journey.
When significant dates roll around on my cancer journey, like my cancerversary, they fill me with gratitude for the people who have helped me along the way and motivate me to find ways for thanking my cancer care team.
Even several years in, I still look forward to visiting my team of doctors, nurses, PAs and NPs who have been with me through this long journey.
Besides my cancerversary, I also celebrate my transplantaversary, the date I received my stem-cell transplant, on Dec. 19. It coincides nicely with Christmas and so my wife and I use it as an opportunity to bring small gifts and thank you cards to our cancer care team.
One year I asked the nurses what was appropriate, and everyone said chocolate was a favorite.
Humility and gratitude
As memories of my battle with leukemia and an SCT (stem cell transplant) come back, I feel a sense of humility and gratitude. The people who cared for me were incredibly kind, skilled, and personally connected to my family and me. We love them dearly and look forward to checkups when we can all catch up again.
I also know that my survival has nothing to do with being tough. I am certainly not tougher than leukemia, but I know people—my cancer care team—who are experts at fighting it.
I’m sure you can relate, as you think through your cancer journey or for that of someone you love.
Besides my cancer care team, I have also been surrounded by an army of prayer warriors who fought hard when all I could do was simply hope that the next hour or day would be better than the current one. Their prayers, well wishes, and love for us were every bit as important as the medicine and physical interventions. They all formed a team, that along with my cancer care team, saved my life, and I will be forever grateful.
You can read more about how these dear friends helped me in An Impressive Circle of Friends.
More about gratitude
On the note of gratitude, I have a good friend who works closely with survivors of all types and ages—PTSD, anxiety, and depression are her specialties. Most striking to her are the people who master the art of expressing gratitude and humility. I’m convinced that these are more than just coping skills. They are a way of life that blesses the receiver and also the giver. What’s great is it’s never too late to start practicing gratitude.
Sure, people say “thank you” all the time, but being truly grateful takes more than words. It starts in the heart and works its way up into words that matter. I’m not just thankful to be alive. The kindness people have shown to me touches me deeply, so I keep their names and faces in mind. I memorize names or write them down. I even review them in my thoughts and smile at special memories. Yes, those were awful days, but each one of them came to my room and cared for me.
I choose to take notice of the little things they may do twenty times a day, but when they do it to care for me, I compliment them.
Practical ways to say thank you
As you think through your own journey or someone you love, what are some ways you could show your cancer care team thankfulness and gratitude? Tell them what you are grateful for. And if you want to get practical, say thank you by giving gifts.
Here are some of my go-to ideas:
- Small, individually wrapped chocolates
- Big bin of popcorn (Not good during COVID but a hit for employee breakrooms.)
- Coffee gift cards
- Small Christmas ornaments
- Put these together with a thank you note and maybe a memory of a visit that really mattered
May your gratitude help you thank your cancer care team and the other people who help you, and may it fuel your joy and hope throughout your journey.
For more about living from a grateful perspective, read Every Day is a Gift.