Photo by Tatiana Rodriguez on Unsplash

Giving thanks–for cancer?!

November 22, 2023
I have extra reason to give thanks this Thanksgiving. Late last year my husband, Karl, got an inkling that something might be going on with his health. He had an elevated PSA count, indicating possible prostate cancer. In February, he was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer. Aggressive! That was scary. The good news: after radiation and taking on a regimen of two years of medication, his prognosis is excellent. While Karl’s energy is lower, he’s mostly doing fine. His doctors say, “You’re doing great, Karl!”

I’m grateful. And this experience leads me to think of all the things about Karl and our life together that I am thankful for. Here are a few of them:

-He’s always been my biggest fan. He was 100% supportive of my ministry from the very beginning, even before I went to seminary.

-He’s the calmest man on the planet. And the most patient.

-He’s a genius with space, whether arranging furniture, hanging art, or packing a moving truck.

-He’s a fountain of information. (He was a reference librarian in his career).

-He’s a lifelong learner.

-He keeps up with the news and keeps me informed. I don’t have to consume much news directly, and I stay calmer.

-Last, but not least: He arranges flowers far better than I do!

I wouldn’t say I’m thankful for the cancer. However, it has brought blessings into our life, including a greater appreciation for our life day to day.

I wouldn’t say I’m thankful for my husband’s cancer. However, it has brought blessings into our life, including a greater appreciation for our life day to day.
One of my teachers, Dave Ellis, taught me to practice celebrating whatever you authentically can, even in the midst of challenges. See his book, Falling Awake: Creating the Life of Your Dreams (Breakthrough Enterprises 2002) for more on this. I learned from him to write down those celebrations. As part of my devotional time, I now write at least five things I can celebrate from the day before. Sometimes it’s as simple as “running water.” Or “coffee.” Or “the public library.”

In my work coaching pastors, I talk to people almost every day who are facing big challenges in their life and ministry. And you only have to glance at the headlines to see the global challenges, from climate change to war. However, even in the worst situations, people are able to find moments of joy. Karl recently showed me a video of a Ukrainian soldier in a war zone enjoying an energy bar. He is honest about the challenges and the toll on him. But he also says, “Life is amazing.”

This Thanksgiving, what unexpected blessings have the challenges of the year brought you? What people have come into your life? What new perspective have you received on the people who are already there? Write something down, and be ready for the annual ritual at the Thanksgiving table.

Rev. Margaret Marcuson helps ministers do their work without wearing out or burning out, through ministry coaching, presentations, and online resources.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

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