Having Thanksgiving just around the corner always brings to my mind reasons to be thankful.
Last fall I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and my surgery – my successful surgery – was in early November. So as you might imagine, one year later I have many things to be thankful for.
It was an odd sensation to get the news that I had a tumor the size of a golf ball behind my ear. It was found through an MRI for a symptom I was experiencing, yet interestingly that symptom had nothing to do with the tumor. A bit serendipitous!
I listened to my neurosurgeon, heard his words, and bargained with him on when I could “fit this surgery thing” into my calendar. ”I’m busy,” I told him … “I have work to be done, clients to take care of,” etc. He wasn’t buying any of it. What’s more, he also told me that I couldn’t fly or drive for six to eight weeks after surgery. So I planned my surgery the best I could so that my work wouldn’t be interrupted too much.
It really never dawned on me that my surgery wouldn’t be successful. But redoing my will was something that I had to do – I’m one of those people who tries to prepare for any outcome. It was a very strange activity, that’s for certain. I struggled with who to leave things to and my sister-in-law said it best: “It doesn’t matter what someone would like to have that is yours, what matters is what you would like to give to someone.” Suddenly doing the will was easier.
When they were giving me the final prep the day of surgery, I listened intently when they described the large vein that was surrounding the tumor – if they touched it I could stroke out. Or the nerves behind it – those controlled my ability to speak, to hear and to swallow. Yeah, don’t touch that stuff. And just then I realized how fragile life can be. I guess anticipating death makes a person prioritize more.
Long story short, after the eight-hour surgery, I was working on my iPad the next day and went home in fewer than 48 hours. The tumor was benign and life went on, seemingly without a hitch. Now here I am, a year later, and very grateful.
Michael J Fox, of TV and movie fame, has said: “a life well lived is demanding and exhausting and tiring,” – I’d only add how great it is to have the chance for all of that. No one knows when they may be dealt with life changing situations.
Leaders also need to be prepared to help employees who face difficulty as well – and show that they are human in response. Strong leaders stay strong during tough times. The important thing is to face them head on and with your head up. And be thankful.
Wishing you and yours a healthy and thankful season.