“You turned my wailing into dancing…that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.” -Psalm 30:11-12

Wow. One year ago on this date, it was the day before Thanksgiving, and I was shopping at Northpark Mall in Dallas, TX with my friend Caroline. I got a call from Dr. Santi back in Wheaton who explained that my biopsy from that Monday came back positive, meaning that I had cancer. As he proceeded to explain my diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I looked around for something to write on, but all I came up with was my shopping bag, so I wrote down all the information on that Nordstrom bag. WHAT A BIZARRE day! What a bizarre time and place to get such a diagnosis, and what a bizarre year that followed!

As I think back to last Thanksgiving, there were so many uncertainties. I was just reading over my very first blog from this day last year, and so much came back to me–needing to find a doctor, figuring out all the scheduling, all of the tests, what chemo even MEANT–so many uncertainties! Needless to say, this has been a November of reminiscing.

This week in school, we asked our freshmen to think about what they are thankful for. Easy, right? Maybe not always. I reminded them that 1 Thessalonians 5:18 teaches us to “give thanks in ALL circumstances.” That’s not always easy, especially in difficult circumstances where you focus on getting through it for the present time.

However, I think it absolutely makes a difference, and I pray that from now on, no matter if I’m in paradise or a hospital room, I would have a thankful heart.

And with that, I think it appropriate to share MANY of the things and people I am thankful for. First of all, there are more people and situations I can count, so know that I’m thankful for ALL of you. Secondly, when giving thanks to people and for things, it’s a necessary reminder that ALL of our praise ultimately goes to God since ALL good things cone from Him. I firmly believe that.

Without further adieu, below is an inexhaustive list of all that I am thankful for on this Thanksgiving day and year anniversary of finding out my diagnosis:

I am thankful for: Doctors who knew what they were doing and who used their best judgment and answered our MANY questions. Who saw me and decided to even treat me. Who prayed for me and let me know I was in good Hands.

I am thankful for: Nurses who sat with me, making my experience so much easier and something to look forward to, who put in overtime just to work things out with my school schedule.

I am thankful for: All the friends and family who came to treatments, tests, and bone-marrow biopsies (SICK), often sitting through long hours of BORING, bearing with me when I was out of it, and making it through gross procedures.

I am thankful for: My Kampers who lifted me up, changing roles as THEY encouraged ME.

I am thankful for: My mom’s kindergarteners who sent me drawings, Angel Christmas tree toppers, petis-fours, and all other great gifts. Who prayed for me, rejoiced with the passing of each treatment, and who made me feel so loved and also humbled by their childlike faith and trust.

I am thankful for: All of the TCA community who spread the word, prayed for me, made scrapbook pages for me, and emailed me encouraging messages of hope. For classmates that, despite time and distance apart, still let me know they were praying for me and would help if there was anything to do.

I am thankful for: Harrison, who, upon hearing of the diagnosis, said that if I had to shave my head, he would shave his, and two months later, let me shave his head. 🙂

I am thankful for: Brooke, who never ONCE complained about having to take on more than she agreed to when she signed up to assist me coaching club volleyball.

I am thankful for: Maggie and Hannah who both showed me incredible friendship in our last semester of college, letting me cry on their shoulders, continually encouraging me with their words and faith.

I am thankful for: ALL of my incredible teammates (Calla, Ruth, Leah, Mal, Annie, Stef, Kelli, Lisa, Megan, Jaíme, Emily, Abby, Ashley, Hannah, Brooke, Sarah, Kelly, Paige, Kaitlyn, and Jenna) who cried with me, laughed with me, and prayed with me. Who made it so much easier as we shaved my head (thanks to Mrs. Graham for that, too!), sat and watched movies with me, brought me Jamba Juice, and helped me kick cancer’s ***. Who drove me around Wheaton, to Texas, through Texas, to Chick-Fil-A in Wisconsin for an exciting night out for me, and to my many treatments. Whose families all prayed for me and encouraged me, too. Who just loved me in all of their words and actions and were irreplaceable.

I am thankful for: the Armstrongs who acted as my “Wheaton family” and took me to almost every treatment, letting me stay at their house when I needed to crash, and treating me like one of their own daughters. Their model of Christ as lived out daily has taught me so many things and blessed me in great ways.

I am thankful for: My aunts who gave me the one thing to look forward to on chemo days by sending me and my family care packages of greatness, showing their love, creativity, and support that went above and beyond.

I am thankful for: My whole family–extended and beyond–who rallied for support, showing me HOW blessed I am to be a McGinnis and to be part of the Cunningham clan.

I am thankful for: My immediate family who walked through this journey every bit as much as I did. Who put everything on hold, missed work, sent me presents, cried many tears with me, paid all of my bills, let me stay in Chicago even though it killed them to have me a thousand miles away. Who showed me a great picture of the Father’s love for His children.

To the Lord who is GOOD, and who has perfect plans for us, though we may not understand them. Who walks with us daily, bearing our burdens for us. Who not only sent His Son to die in our places, but who also heals our diseases, gives us daily grace, and calls is His own.

For all those that weren’t covered in one of those categories, thank you. I know I didn’t get everyone, and I could go on for MANY paragraphs if I didn’t have to get to Thanksgiving dinner. Thanks for the emails, thoughts, prayers, encouragement, and support. Thanks for reading my blog and allowing me to process and try to sort through all of my thoughts, fears, lows, highs, and joys.

Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou from the bottom of my heart. You have ALL made me a more grateful and humble person by showing me just how incredible the body of Christ really is.

I pray that you are ALL blessed today.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,