November 27, 2015

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Counting my blessings with a sincere gratitude each day

Debra TomaselliIt’s Thanksgiving, and I’m in chemotherapy battling cancer, and I am overflowing with gratitude. Who would have thought?

After all, both my parents died of cancer, leaving me a bitter taste for chemo. I once told the oncologist that the minute he used the word chemotherapy with me, it was the beginning of the end.

But God showed me another outcome. I work with 13 cancer survivors.

When I was first diagnosed with lymphoma, our youngest daughter was 5 years old. Now she’s 25 and married, with a child of her own.

So add that to my gratitude list: Being healthy until my children were grown.

Indeed, getting the cancer label was alarming. However, it was a gift.

The lymphoma was discovered in its early stages, and monitored through routine office visits and labs, waiting to begin treatment. Nobody expected two healthy decades, but thankfully, that’s what I got.

Living with the diagnosis changed my life.

This was God’s school, teaching me to live in the moment, where he is found. I learned to treasure each day, as we all should. I learned to grow in faith, because it was all I had. It’s all any of us has.

Thank God, thank God.

Another provision was developing.

Shortly after I was diagnosed, my husband’s employer switched health plans. Unfortunately, our trusted doctor was not on the new plan. Should I change oncologists? What if I ended up in the expense of chemotherapy?

We visited a doctor on the new plan, but I left his office in tears even though I’d already known everything he told me.

We returned to our longtime doctor and explained the situation.

“You shouldn’t have to worry about that at a time like this,” he said. “I’ll take whatever your insurance pays. We won’t bill you.”

For years, I paid for the office visits anyway. It was my thanks to God for continuing good health. Perhaps it would help the oncologist assist someone else. If I needed expensive treatments, we would accept aid. For now, it was affordable.

Through the years, our health plans changed randomly. Today, the worry about how our doctor will get paid is lifted from my hands. He is fully covered by our plan.

Additionally, my husband and I purchased Aflac, which provides funds for out-of-pocket expenses. We won’t have to touch our savings.

So, another category for the gratitude list—financial provision.

An old friend phoned today. She recalled when I was first diagnosed, when our children were little. “I can’t believe it,” she said, having learned the details of my physical struggles. “I’m glad this didn’t happen when the kids were young.”

“Me too,” I said. I admitted that was my unspoken prayer through the years.

But something else is happening. Somebody is filling me with his grace and peace. Somebody is encouraging me to trust him with my life … and beyond.

“I’m glad you got what you wanted,” she said.

I agreed. I’m eternally thankful.

“But I’m not here to do what I want.” I said. “I’m here to do whatever God wants me to do.”

Add that to the list—a peace that surpasses all understanding.

(Debra Tomaselli writes from Altamonte Springs, Florida. She can be reached at

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