This has been one hell of a year.

I look back to last Thanksgiving where I was unable to travel to spend the holiday with relatives because of my first deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Now, I am just grateful it looks like I will not be celebrating in the hospital again.

That initial DVT started me on a journey I never foresaw - filled with tears, endless frustration, too many close calls with my old friend Death, hope, cross-country travel, two major surgeries within the span of one month, and lots of laughter. Because if you can't find the humor in having a stroke the night before The Common App comes out, what can you find the humor in? I mean, different strokes for different folks (yes, I am planning on turning that into an awareness campaign). 

Given all of that, I still regard this as one of my best years and that is what I am thankful for. I am thankful for the once in a generation opportunity to secure my future through 21st Century Cures Legislation. I am thankful for my incredible doctors who are working too hard saving my life for it to all be in vein (get it? get it?). I am thankful for organizations such as EveryLife, Dysautonomia International, and Global Genes who I am privileged to work with and fight beside everyday for a better future, let alone call a family. I am thankful to have these opportunities to speak and write about topics I am so passionate about, such as youth advocacy, health policy, and women's empowerment.

I am thankful to have such special people in my life. There is no single word that can truly describe my friends - who are my Ohana, or chosen family - but I will try in the most concise manner possible. They are courageous, loyal, fighters who are shaping change and succeeding despite the challenges life has thrown at them (whether this be health related or not). 

Amelia - There is too much to say to you, but most importantly...thank you for teaching me what has become my motto this year; it is not about how much time we get, but what we do with the time we are given. It is because of this lesson that I am truly able to look back at this year as one of the best. No matter what happened this past year or what will happen in the future, I know that the work I am doing is influencing positive change in this world. I know that I am making the most of my time, short or long. 

My Parents - I could write an entire post simply thanking you two, but instead I'll keep it brief. Thank you for the misadventures this past year, here's to many more. Thank you for going to the ends of the earth and beyond. Thank you for JMSing and JFSing me. 

Yes, life can really freaking suck, but know what? I am alive and thriving beyond what I ever imagined despite all of the intense struggles. I am thankful every single day for that. I don't need a holiday to remind me. I am reminded when I see a cotton candy sunset, when I look up at the glimmering stars, and when I hear waves crashing onto the shore. 

Everyday should be a Thanksgiving...but maybe without all of the other obligations. That's a separate post though. 


Sick Chick