Perspective, Gratitude, and Guilt

6 Mar

So far, maintenance chemo has been a relative piece of cake.  Yippee!  My only complaint is fatigue and even it is not that bad.  I have pretty decent energy in the mornings and start to fade in the late afternoon.  The upside is that I sleep like a baby.  Well, I always sleep like a baby, so that’s not really anything I can attribute to treatment!  ha ha!!

Source: Pinterest

My eyes can hardly believe the destruction left behind by Friday’s tornado.  It’s one thing to see pictures or TV footage of tornado damage done in another state or even another city.  It’s something entirely different to leave your subdivision, drive about 2,500 feet up the road and see piles of sticks where homes used to sit, splintered trees lying sideways in every direction, and empty foundations with homes standing shakily beside them.

As I inhale quickly at the sight of the damage, I thank God that our neighborhood – and our home – were spared.  Yet, as I exhale slowly, I feel guilt that our neighborhood – and our home – were spared.  It’s such a contrast of emotions to be felt all at the same time.

I was raised in the South.  I’ve spent my share of time huddled in hallways at home or school while tornado sirens screamed outside.    But to be honest, you grow numb to the watches and warnings, thinking that it will always happen somewhere else.  That’s not true, anymore.

In our county, 346 homes were damaged.  77 of those homes were completely destroyed.  Another 23 had major damage.  Many of these homes are right here within a few miles of my home.

I remember thinking as we drove home Friday, unsure of what we would find, that “it’s just stuff.”  Maybe that was my way of coping with the fear of the unknown at the time.  I was definitely worried about our cat, Pumpkin, but thought the rest of it could be replaced if necessary.  I’m not sure if I would have had that perspective prior to cancer.  Cancer changes the way you think. You quickly come to realize what is important and what is not.

I think the same is probably true for people who survive a tornado because I’ve seen interviews recently with people who lost their homes on Friday and they all talk about how grateful they are just to be alive, especially the ones who were in their homes at the time they were destroyed.

Friday was just one more reminder to make the very most of every day because we don’t know what will happen tomorrow.  Everything can change in a minute, so like the picture above says: live good, love big.

♥ Rachel


11 Responses to “Perspective, Gratitude, and Guilt”

  1. Herdy March 6, 2012 at 5:20 am #

    A healthy dose of perspective can enrich your life, despite how it may come your way, through a cancer diagnosis, loosing someone you love, an accident, a tornado…my thoughts and prayers are with all those who are facing a new reality. Glad your new treatment is not too terrible….long may that be the case xx

    • rachturner March 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

      Good thoughts, Herdy. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Cancer Warrior March 6, 2012 at 5:51 am #

    I totally agree with what you said about how cancer changes the way you think. I read something interesting in a book by Dr. Bernie Siegl, regarding perople who come to view cancer as a blessing….”It doesn’t mean they wouldnt’ get rid of the disease in a minute if they could, but they wouldn’t give up the changes it brought.” So when we talk about the blessings/gifts/perks of cancer, it is not the cancer itself, but the changes it brought to our lives that we are grateful for.

    • rachturner March 7, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

      Flo – THAT is the essence of it all. I am grateful for the blessings I’ve received as the result of having cancer. Sure, I’d like to NOT have cancer, but there are some good things/people in my life now (such as you!) that would not be here were it not for the disease. :)

  3. tranquilmomentsphotography March 6, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    I am not sure why these disasters happen, maybe it’s God’s gentle reminder to us to appreciate what we have. Wishing you a terrific Tuesday Rachel and glad to hear your chemo is treating you well.

  4. Carina March 6, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    I’m glad you’re feeling well with your maintenance chemo.

    Sad about the tornado. I heard the fatality counts 40 in the country, so far. One mother lost 2 legs protecting her children from harm.

    • rachturner March 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      Carina – I saw the story about the mom. So tragic, but at least they all survived and the children still have their mom. They all must have been so scared.

  5. Jim Fugate March 7, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    Good morning, Rachael: I’m later reading your latest update. I’m pleased that you are doing so well.

    I, too, hurt for those whose homes were either completely destroyed by the tornadoes or left with such damages that it will be some time before they will be able to rebuild and move back in.

    You’ve likely heard that the eastern Kentucky town of West Liberty was devastated. Some years ago in my travels to further southeastern Kentucky, I drove through that community. It was always clean and seemed to be a satisfying place for residents.

    We had a tornado watch/warning and as soon as I heard that I came to the lower level here-it’s beneath the grass outside–and heard nothing–didn’t lose power, there was no noise like a train, etc. I spent the night–although i didn’t sleep well because I missed my bed.

    Thanks for including me in your updates. I have followed your journey very closely. Diane Hunsaker is a friend and I first met her and John in our church in Huntington, WV years ago.

    Blessings…Jim Fugate, West Virginia

    • rachturner March 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

      Hey Jim! Haven’t heard from you in a while, so glad you commented today. Hope you are doing well. We love John and Diana – they are such sweet people and wonderful neighbors.

  6. Stacey Kennelly July 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    Hi Rachel, my name is Stacey and I write for Greater Good, and online magazine that writes about positive psychology research. We focus on happiness, gratitude and empathy–many of the things you write about, too.

    I’m working on a piece about gratitude in the face of adversity. It seems like you would be more than perfect for this piece. Would you mind speaking to me about this topic? You can email me at You can visit Greater Good at

    I hope to hear from you soon!


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