Grateful Heart, Healthy Heart

Many years ago, when I was still in elementary school my grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was so aggressive. I still remember sitting at the lunch table feeling so worried.

I remember telling the other kids why I was worried, trying to explain what breast cancer is.

Amazingly, she survived it.

Many years later, I got a terrible phone call.

My grandma had had a stroke.

To make matters worse – she had been found HOURS AFTER the stroke.

In that very moment I dropped everything – I said – we’re leaving. We’re heading to my grandma’s city – 12 hours away in the dead of winter.

I called my aunt who was in the hospital with her. My aunt asked the doctors if I would make it on time. The doctors said ‘no’… don’t come now. You won’t make it anyway. 12 hours is too long – and she won’t live that long.

I was devastated.

I don’t think I’ve prayed that hard, cried that hard, begging for my grandma’s life to be spared.

My grandma survived more than 12 hours. She survived the next 12 hours… and the next. Now, nearly 4 years to the date… she is still alive.

She did lose some of her abilities – but she’s able to talk, she can walk with her walker and even teaches a class at her church.

Through all of this she has kept an attitude of gratitude.

In the years since her cancer fight – she has said she is grateful for what it taught her.

When she had her stroke, I went straight to her house. As I walked around the house that felt so empty I noticed a quote posted to her fridge.

It said, “ What if you woke up today with only the things that you thanked GOD for yesterday?”

When I asked my grandma about the quote she said half paralyzed, struggling to talk, “I sure wish I would have thanked God for the ability to walk.”

She may have been kidding, but in my research about gratitude I’ve found being thankful can truly change our lives.

You’ll be happier, feel more positive, have a better quality of life – but you’ll also see physical impacts.

Research has found a gratitude practice can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and help you get better sleep. It even helps your heart health!

To hear more about my grandma’s story and how to start a gratitude practice check out Happiness in Progress podcast episode #09 on iTunes, Android, on Stitcher and online.

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