She’s got that Sinead O’Connor look going; short hair that looks cropped and intentional and not so much as a victim of chemotherapy. Eyebrows have started growing back, as have the eyelashes and, she will kill me for writing this, the other undesirable hairs that women hate to contend with. Things are slowly getting back to normal.

But normal remains a relative term these days. Dealing with her cancer, watching a son moving off to college and unleashing an overachieving daughter that spends more time at activities than at home now, Karen and I find ourselves wondering what’s next. If included in the next phase is spending the day on the couch watching football all day Sunday with the dog on our lap, as we did today, that will be a nice change of pace.

Monthly blood analysis will be required for the next year, per recommendation of her doctor. He feels that the cancer marker in her blood stream is a reliable source of information, and if in the event that the cancer does re-emerge, he will see the warning signs early. We remain grateful for the prognosis, and it is at the top of our list at this Thanksgiving holiday.

Still, it’s odd to look back on this year and make sense of all that has happened. What did we actually walk through? How will we be different as a result?

I think some questions are meant to be asked and some are better left alone. This may seem like a cop out, until you are faced with many of the unanswered kind, you realize how much energy is spent trying to find a solution to an equation that most likely will never be solved.

Is it over? What will happen next? Will the cancer come back? Why did it happen in the first place?

I can’t answer these, but there are a couple I can.

What has happened? What will I do about it?

I’m not the one who physically possesses the disease, but anyone who has a loved one affected by it, it becomes yours nevertheless. I, too, have choices.

I don’t know why cancer happens, but I do know that it doesn’t have to define me. It might mark me, scar me or even cripple me, but doesn’t mean it will ruin me.

That for which we are thankful