Day 192

Meet Elaine. Last year my friend Elaine was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery that lasted more than twelve hours, and began a long season of treatment and recovery.

Last week, Elaine was back on the tennis courts with us, whipping the ball around and whipping the pants off of her opponents.

Next month, Elaine will be joining my team and hundreds of other walkers for  the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life all-night walk in Brookdale park* June 4th-5th.

Elaine didn’t lose her forehand, her backhand, her sense of humor, or her spunk when she was diagnosed with cancer.  But she did find something —  I know, because she told me when we went walking through the South Mountain Reservation last week. Elaine found gratitude.

“Here’s what I’m grateful for,” Elaine said after we’d looped the familiar muddied path up in the rez. “I’m grateful that I’m still alive. I’m grateful for my doctors who kept me going and helped me get well. I’m grateful that I still have my sense of humor. I’m grateful that  I have two breasts that are the exact same size as my old ones! I’m really really thankful that I found out how strong I am. And I’m grateful to everybody who told me I had a strong attitude, because they made me strong by saying that, and that helped me keep up my strength and my sense of hope and optimism.”

Gratitude. Elaine got cancer, and she got grateful.

“In fact,” she said. “My friend Dawn was on the phone with me every day, telling me how well I was doing. I have to call her up and tell her that she really made a difference for me. She really really helped me get through it. I have to thank her for that.”

Every time I think about gratitude, I think about grace. I was explaining my new focus for MyBigWalk to Elaine, and she asked me to explain grace, gratitude, and generosity to her. But then Elaine showed me, better than I could possibly have shown her, just how closely grace and gratitude are linked. Find one, and you’ve found the other.

Thank you, Elaine, for showing me gratitude and grace in action. OH, and by the way, ELAINE, GET OFF YOUR LAZY BUTT AND COME WALKING WITH ME AGAIN B$^#Yo*TCH! (Elaine made me say it to her that way, guys. She says it helps get her motivated. I swear!)

* PLEASE CLICK HERE if you want to make a donation to our  American Cancer Society / Relay for Life team in Elaine’s honor or in memory or honor of someone you know and love who’s battled cancer.