Ten years ago, our family was in sort of a “race” to finish up in Seattle and get home before Thanksgiving. We’d spent five months at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance having a stem cell transplant to remedy a rare blood cancer and grow new bone marrow. Three of us lived in a tiny urban apartment near the hospital(s) so we could deal with chemo, the transplant and what seemingly was a constant battle to get the blood counts “up,” so we could leave. At times, it was difficult.
We arrived back home two days before Thanksgiving. I couldn’t leave the house for months because of possible infection complications with a depressed immune system, but it was a marked improvement over a hospital room and an apartment building filled with other cancer patients and caregivers. A Thanksgiving memory.
One outpatient exercise, which arrives in the mail every October on the anniversary of the transplant as part of the follow-up treatment, asks “survivors” or former patients to write about the experience and why we’re thankful. It’s a tidy little endeavor which I enjoy doing. The usual suspects – family, friends, opportunities to live and work in the years to come – usually top the list. I’m blessed with a terrific family and friends from all over. Here’s some “localized” thankfulness, in no particular order:
• Generosity. It continues to astound the depth of local philanthropy, whether it’s building a new Edward A. Whitney Academic Center at Sheridan College, supporting a little league team, or any number of worthwhile causes and charities. Citizens are willing to financially support a stronger community tapestry.
• Independent film. Twenty weeks a year, Bill Campbell brings to his family-owned Centennial Theater “indie” films that you’d have to drive to Denver to see. The Sheridan Film Festival is a gem.
• WYO Theater. As is the WYO, now in the midst of expansion and renovation to make it more attractive. This past year, the WYO has hosted live jazz, opera (via satellite from New York), music from the ‘60s, the ‘80s, local theater productions and much more.
• Teachers. School teaching is the noblest of all professions.
• Nurses. If you want to see humanity up close, talk to a nurse today.
• Entrepreneurs. Idea folk. Risk takers. They make the economy sing by creating opportunities for others.
• Sheridan College. More classrooms and an attractive venue to show off Sheridan’s potential in the new Edward A. Whitney Academic Center. A new student union is coming next year as well. Even a dinosaur, Caesar.
• Healthcare. In just the last two years, Sheridan Memorial Hospital has opened the Welch Cancer Center and a cardiac care facility. New physicians are relocating here. It is progress that lifts a community’s infrastructure. Our VA hospital provides front-line treatment and counseling to veterans when they return from honorably serving their nation. The VA is a source of pride for the city.
• Books. Whether it’s the ongoing expansion and goal-setting at our Fulmer Public Library, or our local bookstore, Sheridan Stationary Books & Gallery, reading is celebrated here. One thing I like about Robbie & John Smith’s bookstore is the guest book – people from all over the world sign in, putting witness to the fact that Sheridan is increasingly a destination. Another is to see best-selling local author Craig Johnson stop in now and then and to know his ‘Longmire’ books come to life on the A&E network.
• Colleagues. I’m thankful for coming into The Sheridan Press every morning and breathing the same air with dedicated, creative colleagues. This year, we’ve expanded our magazines, Destination Sheridan, into three popular editions. In news, we expanded staff and moved the cheese to include a redesigned web site, enterprise journalism projects that included our local coal industry, the cap tax referendum and most recently, a special section about Big Horn’s state 2A football championship. And we started the FAB Women’s Conference, destined to be an annual event recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments of local women.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!