25 November 2019

NOTE FROM NORM: A Time To Count My Blessings

The Thanksgiving Holiday is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the life one has been blessed to live.

Gratitude this year is in abundance in my life.

I count my blessings literally every single day.

Over the course of the past year I have stumbled upon death’s door only to be lifted up and away from it through the love of friends and family.  This summer my view of the world in front of me was much different than the one I see today.

I am strong, I feel good I am back in the saddle of my life and riding forward with the energy and enthusiasm of someone who doesn’t have lung cancer.

That I do isn’t the salient point here.

The point is that I am celebrating Thanksgiving this year with friends, and family and I thank G-d for that privilege.

I can literally count my blessings this Thanksgiving.

One new grandson came into the Coleman world with the birth of Adam Yosef.

A reminder that from the grief of loss of my own son, Adam, years ago comes the powerful spirit of renewal as his brother, Jacob, honors his life by bestowing upon his own son the power of his name.

One new wedding will take place this summer as my daughter, Sarah, prepares for her marriage to a remarkable young man who, like my Daughter-In-Law, Julia, strengthens the bonds of family in my life.

One more Minnesota summer was enjoyed on the boat and the lake with my family and friends.

One more Minnesota walleye was caught – and more than one was lost – as one more Minnesota fall gives way to one more Minnesota Winter.

One more election cycle came and went.

One more election cycle lies in front of me and my fellow Americans, as one more opportunity to show the world the power of democracy in the greatest nation on Earth will arrive in November of 2020.

One more Thanksgiving Day is just days away from me and I am filled with joy that I have been given one more reason to count the blessings of the life I have been given on G-d’s Earth.

Throughout America, and the world, I am grateful for those who serve our nation in big ways and small ways.

The American Soldier who stands ready at the watch and prepared to defend our nation’s liberty and freedom.

The American police officer, firefighter and all first responders who put themselves in harm’s way every single day to protect our cities, our neighborhoods, our homes and our families.

American educators, health care providers, those in public service and all Americans who every single day dedicate their life to their piece of the American Dream.

I’m thankful for America’s Founders who, in their struggle for liberty, crafted a vision for a future nation that would endure the struggles of the past and present to create the promise of a better future for every American.

There’s much to be thankful for this son of Beverly and Norman Coleman this Thanksgiving as there has been every Thanksgiving since I arrived in this world.

And yet, I can’t ignore that my thanks this year is impacted by the beast that is cancer.

On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, I will be at the Mayo Clinic for my first PET scan almost five months after the surgery to remove the cancer that had metastasized in my lungs.

During that time I have been undergoing an infusion of Keytruda every three weeks.

The beauty of this immunotherapy program is that unlike radiation and chemotherapy, the side effects are rather minimal.

The odds of success are a little less than 50-50, but unlike the other treatments, they don’t have to almost kill you to save.

I’ll  take the odds.

Sometime Wednesday  afternoon, after the scan results have been analyzed, my Mayo team, Dr. Katherine Price and Dr. Daniel Ma , will enter the room where my wife Laurie and I are waiting.

If they enter with a smile and a thumbs up, we will know the immunotherapy is working, that the beast is at bay and the scan is clean.

If there is silence and no smiles we will know that the battle still rages-and hopefully there will be a plan D (after multiple surgeries, chemo and radiation I think we’ve exhausted plans A through C).

Almost every cancer survivor knows the routine. And every cancer survivor knows the accompanying fear and uncertainty.  And yet for me, the timing could not be more perfect. For the fear and uncertainty are greatly diminished as I  reflect  on the meaning of Thanksgiving and all the gifts I have been given.

I have great faith – and trust that whatever my scan shows, I am blessed and thankful.

I am thankful for the multitude of family, friends and total strangers who have lifted me up with the simple refrain- “ I am praying for you.”

The best way I can articulate my thanks is to simply let you know that every moment of my life with you and friends and family is not wasted time.

I can literally count my blessings this Thanksgiving.

By the time Thanksgiving Dinner is consumed at my home, football is watched, naps are completed, and Thursday begins to give way to Friday, I will have had 588,672,000 breaths in my lifetime.

Not that I am counting.

But, I am.

For every breath brings with it an appreciation of life- for however long my Maker deems it so.

Happy Thanksgiving!