Thanksgiving is always a special day for me. Not everyone gets a new chance on life, but I did. Even though my brain tumor challenge is many years in the past, it is something that profoundly changed my life, for the better.

what-are-you-thankful-forIf you have been following my blog, you have already read about my story and the blessings I have received from my cancer. Today I am feeling thankful for learning the lessons of my cancer all over again.

Being a survivor for many years, there have been times—too many really—when I have fallen into periods of regression and let myself fall back into the “old me” that I had long since gotten rid of. Self-imposed stress is something our culture seems to value, and it is hard to fight against it, particularly if you are someone who is driven and live in an area where that seems to be the norm.

Following my illness, I realized that I am terrible at managing stress. Knowing I’d have the best chance at staying well without it, I decided to simply remove stress from my life. That strategy worked well to avoid stress, but it also worked against me in terms of really digging in and accomplishing any big goals.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago. I knew I wanted to honor my 25 years of survivorship with something BIG. Rose and I had wanted to create Digging Deep for almost ten years, but life got in the way. What a better time to focus on creating it than during my 25th anniversary year. But the last two years have been a total rat race, and yes, I have slipped back into old ways of thinking. ‘I don’t need sleep’; ‘I can work nonstop’; ‘I can eliminate all the “unnecessary” aspects of my life’ — including exercise, spending time with friends, even eating right or focusing on my own family.

So this year Thanksgiving is a day to really remember what I had learned many years ago—to focus on my priorities—my health and my family. Luckily I am blessed with both, something years ago I had never thought possible. Even though every day I am grateful for my loving husband, my kids, and how incredibly lucky I have been with my health, what I forget is to acknowledge it, express it, and most importantly, lead my life based on these priorities.

I come from a family that gives back—we’ve been fortunate and want others in our community to succeed as well. Anyone who knows me knows how important Digging Deep and it’s philanthropic mission is to me. But the “gift” that my health problems as a child and then brain cancer in my early 20’s has given me is the freedom to focus my life on my most important priorities—and what a reminder to do that, today on Thanksgiving.

One thing that is on the top of my thankfulness list this year is that Digging Deep has been successfully launched. Now it is time to embrace health and family and rejoice in believing, “If you build it, they will come.” I want to thank Rose, my team of consultants, and every one of you that have supported me in my vision. I thank you for continuing to help get the word out and sponsor books online so that Digging Deep reaches the hands of every child who needs it as soon as possible. Please know how grateful I am for your help.

Sheri Brisson
Sheri Sobrato Brisson is a brain tumor survivor who discovered the importance of self-reflection during her recovery. From her personal illness experience and a dozen years supporting families and children with serious illness, her life’s philanthropic mission is to empower families and children facing serious illness. She has started and facilitated support groups for children with illness and their families for over twenty years with organizations such as the American Cancer Society, National Brain Tumor Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, and Packard Children’s Hospital. She has served as Board Member for many children’s health nonprofit organizations including American Cancer Society San Jose, UCSF/Mt. Zion Auxiliary, Creighton Health Institute, and Okizu Foundation. Brisson received her master’s degree in counseling from Santa Clara University and her undergraduate degree in human biology from Stanford University.
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