My husband and I have been talking for a few months about giving and receiving with open hands—that is, with all parts of our lives, not just our money. For me, this has been a lifelong requirement. A series of trials has ingrained in me a mentality of gratitude, but I’m afraid it might also be mixed with – and sometimes overpowered by – fear.
I hope I have lived the past year of my life with hands open. But you have to understand—when you live your life with open hands, you show willingness to receive whatever God decides to give you. It may not always look like a gift. My diagnosis certainly didn’t always feel like a gift this year.
Living with open hands isn’t lying to yourself, forcing yourself to feel like you’re happy about the gifts you have. At least, that’s not my experience. Living with open hands is a posture and a transformation of the mind. It doesn’t stop you from feeling angry or betrayed or afraid. Instead, gratitude helps you recognize what you’re feeling and act accordingly. It helps you see you already have exactly what you need.
(I’m not theologian or a psychologist. I’m just someone who has lived a year with a gift I didn’t ask for.)
Last week I was feeling a little betrayed by my gift. I was sitting in the waiting room of the cancer center, worried about what my healthcare team would say when I told them my hair was falling out. Because I thought all the side effects of the prednisone had been revealed months ago. I mean, I’ve been on this first-line treatment for eight months now. I should’ve seen the ugliest of the ugly already. So what was this?
But a couple of weeks ago, my hair started falling out. Not in huge handfuls. No, just enough that I started getting worried. I know long-term prednisone can do some damage to your body. I just didn’t expect to have my hair falling out after eight months of treatment. Sure enough, my care team agreed it was probably the drug. Kindly, they cut my dose in half, which spurred the withdrawal symptoms all over again. Of course, it didn’t last long. My counts spiraled and crashed, so I had to return to my old dose.
My platelet counts have actually been higher in the past month—well above my average numbers. So I focused on that, on the gift of my team at the cancer center, on how I have been feeling a bit better and learning more about caring for my body. I focused on some of the good and new things I have planned for the new year. I’ll tell you about that soon.