Thankful For…

By Kenny Toye

I’m thankful for cancer because it taught me how to use everything I have to survive.

Sitting on a fake, deteriorating, peeling leather couch. Trade winds blowing through the 267 square foot apartment. Inhale the potpourri of the neighbors cooking their delicious, greasy breakfast. The sound of the sirens and cars are the soundtrack to this beautiful moment in time where everything is picture perfect.

The previous paragraph isn’t most people’s idea of paradise. Paradise is a state of mind. Right now, I sit here connected to a pump that blasts me full of toxic drugs. I’m a 27 year old cancer patient and I’m in paradise. Oh how times change.
Happiness and joy to a 26 year old boy is a lot different. I thought money paid to take me to paradise. I thought that happiness was whatever helped put a smile face. Including alcohol. Joy to a 26 year old single boy was filling his phone full of different girls’ phone numbers.

The present day ‘me’ isn’t infatuated with liquid possessions. Quick relationships or how many friends I have. The present day, 27 year old cancer patient, manufactures a smile when my friends get what they work for. I get excited to hear about my co-workers daily successes. I cry tears of joy when my parents win a horse race because I know how much heart and effort they put into their work, their passion.

Things now are not important. People now are much more valuable. The relationships we build throughout our life last forever. Relationships are priceless. My paradise is knowing that I have people that truly care about me.
I hear all the loud noises; I can smell my neighbor’s gourmet meals being cooked. I stomp on my pet cockroaches when they decide to come out and watch TV with me. I’m happy to be able to experience these details. There are many things that I don’t have. To some people, it’s called being poor. I consider myself rich. Rich with opportunity. Life began when I realized how easy it is to die. My fight with cancer is halfway over. This wonderful life is beginning.


Kenny Toye, a stage III colon cancer survivor, is featured in the 2017 On The Rise. He is the general manager of the thoroughbred breeding farm in Upstate New York: Waldorf Farm. He can be reached at