I was born with the preternatural ability to find a silver lining in almost every situation. For instance, my mom and dad died when I was young, which is sad, but the silver lining is my husband doesn’t have to deal with in-laws. Or I was laid off on my 30th birthday. Sure, it sucked to lose my job on my monumental birthday, but I got extra days to celebrate more fully and got to enjoy the summer.

Give me a situation and I’ll find a silver lining. There are lots of things to darken our days when we’re in a cancer battle, but we can still find silver linings and maybe even some gratitude as we enter Fall.

First, there is Fall fashion. Bulky sweaters, chic wraps and forgiving leggings are all the rage. Everyone starts to bundle up in the Fall, so if you have any weird body distortions happening from cancer, it’s much easier to hide.

When I was sick, my belly was eight-months-pregnant-looking from ascites. I found I could hide my giant belly at work under a blazer and scarf with pregnancy pants. When I started working from home, I discovered Forever 21’s $2.99 leggings. This bargain find was a lifeline, with leggings in every color that stretch over every belly and are surprisingly durable. I would slip on a pair of leggings and a giant sweater poncho and no one was any wiser. So, whether you’ve gained or lost weight during your cancer journey, Fall is a forgiving season that can hide it all.

Another challenge in a cancer battle is losing our hair. This can be especially difficult and emotional for women. Wigs are itchy and a bald head is cold, but in the Fall we can turn to a warm, soft, stylish hat and no one even suspects we’re bald because everyone starts wearing hats. We all look slightly goofy and bald in a winter hat. In addition, no one will question if you decide to wear a warm beanie inside because it’s cold. So warm, fuzzy fall hat season is a wonderful time for us baldies.

In the Fall, the days grow shorter and hibernation becomes a natural instinct. It’s primal. Animals like bears hibernate to recover and grow. Other animals instinctually find a quiet spot and sleep when they’re sick. Humans can override this instinct with artificial lights and heat, but the cold, short days make human hibernation easier and more desirable. Our cancer hibernation becomes more acceptable because everyone is hibernating in their own way. With shorter days, many of us want to sleep more — even people who are well start staying home more. There’s all the more reason for those of us in a health crisis to crawl under the covers.

Lastly, Fall is a season of gratitude. Cancer sucks, no doubt, but a significant amount of research indicates that gratitude enhances our well-being and health. It’s worth the time to think of what you’re grateful for even in the middle of a cancer journey and while you’re at it, remember – there’s always a silver lining.

As we head into Thanksgiving this month, it’s a great time to think about what is good in your life. Make a ta-da list of all your accomplishments, big and small. We spend so much time on a to-do list, it’s time to focus all the great things you’ve done! If you live in an area with changing leaves, take some time to go enjoy the beauty of the changing season. The fresh air and the beauty will warm your heart and maybe help you find some of your own silver linings.

By Tracy White


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