Devon Gordon had a healthy and relatively easy first pregnancy, and she’s proud to report she even managed to continue CrossFit classes throughout: “Up until the day before I gave birth. I think this really helped me mentally and physically for birth and postpartum.”
She’s grateful for her healthy pregnancy, and especially for the good health of her newborn son. “I was induced three weeks early because they were looking at my son’s heart and something was going on with it,” she explains. “They thought he needed to come early.”
Devon was anxious as her induction approached, but she was determined to focus on the positive — a mindset she believes can foster gratitude even in difficult times. Ultimately, all went smoothly during labor and delivery at Baptist Health, where she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
“From the start at check in to when we checked out, every single person we came across was so wonderful, so helpful. Every nurse that we dealt with, I felt like we were their only patient,” says Devon. She’s grateful for wonderful care throughout her pregnancy journey — from the first appointment with her obstetrician, Lynne Simms, MD, to her postpartum visits to Baptist Health’s free lactation clinic, where caregivers helped her overcome breastfeeding challenges.
“This does not happen everywhere, and we could have had a very different experience, so I just wanted to really acknowledge those people who went above and beyond for us,” she says. “I can’t imagine doing their job — that’s an intense job in labor and delivery and postpartum — and I want them to know how impactful they are every day.”
Focusing on the positives rather than the negatives can foster gratitude and promote healing.
Soon after undergoing surgery for ovarian cancer in 2020, Wendy Monsanto learned the disease had progressed to stage three. It’s treatable, but not curable.
“I could take that and go one of two ways: dwell on the negative or just be grateful for the time,” says Wendy, who began working at a high school several years ago after spending 18 years as a stay-at-home mom.
Since her diagnosis, she’s chosen to focus on the positive and all that is good in her life — especially the people: “I have an awesome support group, between work family, my church family and my literal family.”
She’s also grateful for her Baptist Health caregivers. “They know me, they know my whole story, they know my kids. They just take the time to get to know you, and I really appreciate it. If you have to go through something like this, it’s nice to have that personal experience.” In particular, she’s thankful for her gynecologic oncologist, Hope Cottrill, MD. “She’s been very good to me, very open and honest, and I’ve really enjoyed having her as a doctor.”
Now more than ever, Wendy is grateful for time spent with loved ones, and she’s determined to make the most of every moment. It’s a mindset that recently inspired her to spend a week in Italy with her daughter. “Cancer made me brave,” she says. “That’s something I would have never done before…
“This is how we should be living regardless of diagnosis. It has propelled me to be grateful for what I have, the time that I have,” she adds. “My goal is to shine a light and let people know that despite awful news, you can still live every day to the fullest.”
My goal is to shine a light and let people know that despite awful news, you can still live every day to the fullest.
Kathy Fraley is an avid runner who’s logged countless miles over the years, including three half-marathons. Soon after completing the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini-Marathon in the spring of 2021, Kathy redirected that strength and stamina as she began treatment for stage one breast cancer.
“I could not have had better care than what I received at Baptist Health. It was a very positive experience,” says Kathy in reflecting on her treatment, which included a lumpectomy and radiation.
Hearing the word “cancer” came as a shock, but her fears subsided thanks to kind, patient and reassuring caregivers. “The professionals at Baptist Health showed the utmost care, kindness and respect,” she says. “I feel very well taken care of and am grateful.”
Tapping into that gratitude has made a difference throughout this journey, Kathy says, helping her spiritually, physically and emotionally. “If you can be grateful, then your spiritual life is going to be in tune with God. Your physical body is going to be able to heal, because gratitude helps you look at life with a positive attitude. This aids in healing. And gratitude helps emotionally to keep our focus on all we have that’s good, right, pleasing and encouraging.
Even when we are sad or grouchy, we can’t stay that way when we remember to be grateful.
Cheri McNary believes gratitude starts with an attitude of appreciation that blossoms into acts of goodness. “Gratitude is a positive outlook that can spread. It can change a negative energy to positive,” she says. “The more positive energy spreads, the more it benefits everyone.”
That was certainly Cheri’s experience while undergoing treatment for breast cancer at Baptist Health. “I can’t express how grateful I am to each and every person that I encountered on that journey. I truly believe each and every one of them was put in my path by God.”
From the moment she heard the word “cancer,” Cheri says she’s encountered kindness and compassion at Baptist Health, along with the best-possible care — and for that she’s grateful. “Gratitude is the best medicine,” she says. “It heals your mind, your body and your spirit.”
Cheri finds gratitude in the big things, like her family and a clean bill of health, as well as the little things, like a good cup of coffee and small acts of kindness. One example that comes to mind: While in the recovery room post-lumpectomy, she sleepily told the nurse how much she loves coffee with flavored creamer. “I dozed back off, and then I was awakened by her voice again: ‘Ms. McNary, I made you a cup of coffee and added my special creamer that I keep here at work.’ That was the best cup of coffee!”
Another example of gratitude, she says, is when a longtime friend insisted on covering the balance of her cancer treatment costs. “I said, ‘Oh no, you can’t do that!’ I was in total disbelief.” But the friend insisted, saying they had the money and had been blessed with good health. “I immediately started crying and hugged them! Grateful isn’t even enough to describe how I felt. That is the kindest and most generous thing that someone has ever done for me personally.”
Gratitude is the best medicine. It heals your mind, your body and your spirit.
William Bridges was born at Baptist, as were his children, grandchildren and even his newborn great grandchild.
Baptist Health has long been a reliable presence during joyful times in his family, but also during challenging times, like William’s cancer diagnosis.
“I would like to express sincere appreciation for the entire staff for making a somewhat difficult situation a very positive experience,” says William, who recently underwent five rounds of Cyberknife treatment at Baptist Health. This robotic approach to radiation therapy successfully treated his cancer without debilitating side effects — and for that, he is grateful.
“They took a very negative situation and turned it into what I thought was a very positive experience, and I’m just tickled to death to be able to share my story,” he says.
Facing cancer was scary, but William immediately felt at ease upon arriving for his first treatment. The Baptist Health staff was warm and compassionate, he says, and his daily treatments were efficient: “I mean, one day I was not there 15 minutes. It’s just kind of amazing to not have to wait in the waiting room, to get a treatment of that nature, and then be out of there in 15 minutes!
“I was very grateful for the time that I had to spend there, I’ll put it that way.”
I would like to express sincere appreciation for the entire staff for making a somewhat difficult situation a very positive experience.
Brian Hughes had always been the picture of health: The 62-year-old exercises, eats healthily, and gets a yearly physical. So it came as a shock when he heard the word “cancer.”
Brian turned to Baptist Health for prostate cancer care, which included five rounds of Cyberknife treatment. This precise robotic approach to radiation therapy successfully treated his cancer with no major side effects — and for that he’s grateful.
“I am very grateful and thankful for getting in to do that and all the doctors I saw,” he says. “I am grateful that we have a facility close by so that I didn’t have to travel far. I’m glad Baptist has this technology.”
It was a trying time, but Brian felt comfortable at Baptist every step of the way, from his radiation treatments to his genetic counseling sessions. It was the genetic counselor who determined his two sons are not genetically predisposed to prostate cancer — yet another reason to be grateful.
“I am thankful for every day. I make the most of each day and look at the little things,” he says. “We only walk this way once, so let’s make the best of it.”
I am thankful for every day. I make the most of each day and look at the little things.
When an oncologist first uttered the word “cancer” to Angela Simmons, she tapped into her faith to find strength. “I said, ‘Alright God: It’s me, you and the doctor.”
Turns out a full team of doctors, nurses and other staff at Baptist Health would care for Angela throughout her cancer treatment — and for that she is grateful.
“I had a wonderful team. God really blessed me with caring people, I cannot pinpoint one,” says Angela. “I am grateful for my doctors and other staff.”
Months of chemotherapy were difficult and at times debilitating, Angela says, but the warmth and compassion shown by health care providers helped ease the burden. “During and after my chemo, if anything hurt or felt unusual, I knew I could call and they would always get back to me, usually in an hour or two. It showed me they cared… You don’t normally get doctors who reach out within an hour or two. God really blessed me with those people. God built my team.”
Angela is grateful for the strength she exhibited during these trying times. “I just cannot put into words. It was a beautiful experience, even though I had to go through it,” she says. “I truly believe God gave me the strength to go through it gracefully.”
I had a wonderful team… I am grateful my doctors.
Eric Stephens became proactive about his health at a young age. “My father died of colon cancer at the age of 51,” he explains. “After discussing this with my wife, we decided I should find a primary care physician and begin routine check-ups.”
Eric turned to Baptist Health Madisonville, where his doctor ordered a colonoscopy as a precaution. Given he’d experienced zero symptoms, Eric was shocked to learn he had stage 3 colon cancer.
“The care that I received was top-notch. They truly cared for me and my family during this time. They listened to my every concern and question, were honest and were always there to take care of me during my time of need,” says Eric, who underwent surgery a few days before a series of devastating tornadoes struck western Kentucky. “My doctor who performed my surgery, worked all night in the emergency department taking care of tornado victims, and still came to check on me in my room the next morning before going to rest himself.”
Eric is grateful for dedicated caregivers, and for the generous Baptist Health Foundation donors who make such quality healthcare possible close to home: “You, and your generosity, are a very big part of why I am still here today… Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for believing in health care and making it possible for your friends, neighbors, loved ones and even strangers to receive the care they need.”
Recently, Eric and his wife found out they are expecting their first child, news that further strengthened his feelings of gratitude. “I am grateful that our team of medical professionals treated us like family and have helped to make sure that I am here to hold my child for the first time.”
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for believing in healthcare and making it possible
for your friends, neighbors, loved ones and even strangers to receive the care they need.
Expressing gratitude is a way of life for Robyn Elliott. “At this moment I am grateful for so many things, but what has been top of mind is the community I live in and the people I’ve met.”
The Madisonville resident is also grateful for her husband of 10 years, whom she describes as her best friend and biggest supporter. “He pushes me to pursue my dreams, and I am forever thankful for that in my life. We have a similar grateful mindset and try to always express our gratitude in notes, acts of service and spreading the word.”
The couple makes it a priority to sincerely thank people who make a difference in their everyday lives, from their children’s teachers to health care workers. “Recently I have started seeing a [Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville] physical therapist for postpartum issues I had always ignored. To say I am thankful for her and the knowledge she has shared with me would be an understatement.”
Robyn believes embracing gratitude has the potential to uplift and even to heal. “Speaking from a recent experience with my PT, I can honestly say through her knowledge and attentiveness to me and my situation she has already started to heal me emotionally and physically.”
The Elliotts hope their grateful way of life inspires others to display acts of gratitude — whether that’s through a simple “thank you,” a kind note or a cup of coffee. “Gratitude is like kindness and can only bring better things to all of us. If you are thankful for something big or small, I challenge you to make that person or entity aware of how they have changed your life.”
Gratitude is like kindness and can only bring better things to all of us.
At the start of the pandemic, Chaplain Joel Jackson offered words of encouragement in his role as pastoral care director at Baptist Health Paducah. He reminded the team of caregivers that “this is our mission moment” — a time to overcome fear and show love to those in need.
The longtime chaplain was overwhelmed with the positive response, which included a note from the hospital system’s CEO asking him to share his inspirational words across all of Baptist Health. “I have been truly blessed because of the love shown to me simply because I was just doing my job, and for that I am grateful,” he says.
It’s especially important to embrace gratitude during difficult times, according to Joel, who believes those who are grateful tend to be happier. “They realize that it is just as easy to focus on the good as it is to focus on the bad. They send out positive energy, and that energy can be felt by others.”
God, family and work are Joel’s priorities in life, and he’s grateful every day.
“Gratitude can turn what we have into enough and more,” he says. “It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion into clarity. It has the ability to turn a simple meal into a feast, make a house into a home and turn a stranger into a friend.”
Gratitude can turn what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion into clarity.