Tag Archives: cancer

A Thanksgiving Thought

By Thomas A. Paternostro, November 2013

Please take a moment to read Dad’s perfect words as you prepare to gather as a family at Thanksgiving this year. We could never have known this would be our last time to share in Thanksgiving in his presence. But, the powerful gift of his writings and his words reminds us that he is still here.

This is his message, and now our message, of peace.
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I feel the winds of winter as November drifts slowly towards December.  Already, I have witnessed snow drifting across the western hills, landing gently along the meadow. The last rusty leaves of a few oaks on nearby hills hold tight to the glory days of autumn, now almost vanished. I watch the deer, harder to distinguish now as they blend into the dull background of winter’s approach. The winds shake the skeletons of summer in the meadow. The afternoon dwindles into the night earlier as each day passes. A day of Thanksgiving has arrived, and with it, we know that winter’s cold, her howling storms, her bitter cold, will return some day without notice.

Thanksgiving, a time to gather with family and friends, a day of thanks for the blessings of the natural world, and most importantly our families and others we love.  This is a time to remember the warm rainy days of summer, the sunshine, the simple things that make our life and this time possible for so many.  I think of the labor of those who work the land, those who make sure that pumpkin and apples, milk and cream, turkeys and ham, or whatever your choices may be, are here for us to enjoy.

“I take not a single day for granted, always thankful for what surrounds me.”

It is time to pause, to rest, to breathe deeply the aroma of the kitchen. It is also time to reflect on those less fortunate, despite the reasons, and to share the blessings of this land as much as possible in a manner of our choosing.  

I take not a single day for granted, not an hour to waste, always thankful for what surrounds me.

I give thanks for the honor to be called an American, thanks for the honor to have served in our military, and thanks to those who still do.

There are many things I still do not understand, like the desire to squeeze the last dollar from a shopper in the name of the holiday season. I do not understand why it is necessary to open stores before their workers have the opportunity to enjoy the second piece of pie with their families. What is the difference if we put off the sale of the season for another day?  Have we forgotten so easily, in our hurry, the importance of time together, doing little once in a while, like time to sit and talk around that table so full? When one of the seats is empty, how we will long for one more chance to have just another minute together.

In days, November will slip again into December and winter. The first serious snow of the season can arrive at any time. It is time to reflect as we ponder the winter sky, the quiet cold that lays ahead, our journey, and how long shall it last? December and winter will arrive, filled with holiday spirit, clear cold nights when the air sparkles with starlight, reflecting off the crunching snow.

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“….the message of peace.”

It is time to rest more, to read more, to reflect, and most of all, time to grow closer to those we love, time to cherish the moments we are granted. It is time to know and live the messages we send, the message of the seasons which we enter, the message of peace.

The Happiest Day – September 13, 2011

This week has been filled with so many emotions! I am sharing this personal look inside the happiest day of Kass’s cancer journey. All of these videos and photographs were taken on September 13, 2011, exactly 2 years ago today, marking Kass’s last day of radiation treatment. Although it is still hard for us to watch because we cannot see through our tears, I am sharing it for a few reasons.

First, to remember Kass’s courage, hope and determination.

We were all so happy that day. We thought we had turned a corner. We knew the fight had only just begun, but things were looking up. The first phase was over, and Kass did great! She looks happy, beautiful, and although she lost a lot of weight, she was fierce that day. She wanted to wear her LIVESTRONG shirt because it provided such inspiration to her. And, wear it she did. Proudly. When her treatment was over, she wanted to go to the Liberty Bell and then to the Rocky steps. She ran those steps and she cried. And, I cried. At the bottom of the steps before she ran, she mentioned our friend Casey. Casey had promised to run those steps with her when she was healed. Sadly, we never made it back there and to this day, I am not sure if I could ever go back there again.

Secondly, I share this with you to personalize the cancer journey.

For one full year, standing proudly next to Kass as she fought, our family lived every emotion of the human experience almost every single day. From the tears, sadness, frustration, and anger, to the daily smiles, love, happiness, stillness, laughter, joy, courage, faith, and hope (we can never forget the hope); cancer brings them all to the surface and forces you to stand in the truth and live. Right then…..Right there….Always looking forward…..Wrapping yourself in the love of family and friends, your faith in God and the doctors and nurses who will care for you, and in the HOPE that lives inside of you, where the reserves have been building over a lifetime of viewing the world through optimistic and loving eyes. What other choice does one truly have? Kass used to say, “Cancer has made my lens so crystal clear. I see things with an unbelievable clarity that I never had before.”

For anyone reading this who has been through cancer, either themselves or as a caregiver, you 100% absolutely understand this sentiment. For those who have not, please count your blessings! I beg you to count your blessings right now. Today. Cancer is a beast and a powerful one at that. Even with my parents’ reminders over the years for us to stand straight out of bed each morning and then fall to our knees to thank God for our lives, our health, and our family, I never really understood what those words meant until it was too late. Although I hope I never did, life is so easy to take for granted.

I share this story and this video with you because our family is no different from millions of other families out there right now, today, who are living this same journey. I share Kass’s example to let you know that even when the worst possible outcome comes to pass, there is still hope! Hope that someday, we will find a cure for this terrible disease. Hope that no other babies will have to lose their Mommies at 4 years old. Hope that we will never forget the lessons we learned as we witnessed the fight. Hope that our lives here on Earth have meaning and that our legacy will carry forward and inspire & help others. Hope that those of us who are left behind will live better lives, lives with more clarity, and lives steeped in a pursuit of giving, loving, and helping others.

That is what Kass would have wanted. To inspire or support or somehow help just one person who is standing where she stood and facing what she faced. And now, Kass is with God in Heaven living her eternal life, a life where there is no more pain, only peace and love.  And so must we carry on, too.  We live and we laugh and we love, but we never forget.  Our work with our foundation is how we will carry Kass’s legacy forward.  And just like the finest symphony, the Team Kass Foundation is the instrument, and Kass, our graceful and beautiful conductor!

God bless.

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