What Are You Thankful For?

By Jessica  “JP” Protasio

As a child, Thanksgiving was a complicated holiday for my family. The days leading up to the “great feed” were usually wrought with my parents’ guilt–resulting from the pressure to replicate the gluttonous celebratory dinner that everyone else was having and being crazy enough to participate in Black Friday. Looking back, I think we had the finest Thanksgiving experiences anyway. I learned early on that I was just grateful for the treasure of family. We all need a family. Sometimes, our families are split apart for various reasons. One of those reasons is time. Specifically, “running out of time.”

Among my first experiences with cancer was my father’s passing; he ran out of time. The holidays remind me of how ruthless cancer is and how fortunate I am to be here despite cancer’s cruelty. It is extraordinarily special to celebrate the people and experiences that make our lives so fulfilling. Thanksgiving is a way of life–whether you’re in treatment, in remission, or involved with the fight against cancer. So, in the spirit of thankfulness, these women share their reasons and thanks as it relates to the “emperor of all maladies”, cancer.

I’m Thankful

…that my mom beat it [cancer] once again! –Katie, daughter of a two-time survivor

…that my mother didn’t suffer for long after–her diagnosis -Stephanie, daughter of a cancer fighter at rest
…for the blessing of time and healing. Our lives are precious and every extra second we receive is an extra step toward healing and hope. –Sheena, daughter of a survivor
…for each and every moment–that I have with my wonderful husband and best friend, Nate, who is seven years cancer free.–I am also thankful for my dear friend, Erin, who is three years cancer free. I’m thankful for the moments I have shared with Nate and Erin, and for the many more to come.-Krissy, UCF Program Director
…for all the new friends that cancer has brought my way and all the life lessons these friends have taught me. –Colleen, cancer awareness activist
…that cancer has taught [me] about priorities, friendship, strength, and–no matter what, cancer can’t kill the human spirit! –Sara, cancer awareness activist

…that I have learned to be proactive in my health –and try not to take anyone or anything for granted. –I learned to love running just because I can do it –and that dreams can be limitless. And to always remember those who haven’t been so lucky in the gift of time; life can be short so live it up! –Erin, cancer awareness activist
…for all the incredibly, amazingly, phenomenally inspirational people I have met who have gone through this [cancer] journey that I am just an outsider looking in on. They have enriched my life so much, and I cannot imagine a world without these wonderful people, or my life without them in it. –Nancy, cancer awareness activist

…for every awesome, positive moment my friends share with me–friends who continue living with so much joy and energy that you often forget they are in constant a battle for their lives. –Sarah, family/friend of survivors

…that Ellie & Janelle push me to be a better version of myself, that I will be able to visit my brother for the holidays for the first time in a decade, that I have an incredible network of friends who’ve become family via my journey with cancer, and that there are opportunities for me to give back and give thanks for a life that I wasn’t guaranteed. Plus, I got to meet my liver donor’s sister. –Jessica Protasio, 18 months in remission



JP is a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch of the Howard County Library System. She is a Pajama Time storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, and a cancer survivor.


1 Comment

  1. I’m thankful that our founding fathers established our form of government upon God’s principles and values. It is for this reason why we currently enjoy the rich blessings today. May we continually remember and give thanks for their wisdom and may we never loose sight of this reality.


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