How to be grateful

Thank you all for the outpouring of support, well wishes, love and prayers as we take  the next step to get this cancer out of me. I talked to the thoractic surgeon at Mayo on Friday and it sounds like they will open me up at my sternum to get the best look at the remaining tumor. The goal is to remove all of it by cutting my tracheal tract and putting it back together.  They will have a big team of doctors there to make sure they can handle any surprises and will be able to tell right away if they were able to get it all. If they can’t, I will be given the time I need to heal up and then we will proceed with radiation. This type of tumor responds well to radiation (and not well to chemo). 

I feel confident in the plan, nervous, and ready to get it behind me. I’m expecting the surgery to be scheduled in June sometime, but we haven’t made those plans yet. 

We have received such an outpouring of love from people far and wide and we feel your prayers and thoughts lifting us up and we are so grateful. 

How to be grateful
Forum Communications


When my girls walk out the door to play outside, and the sun is shining, and the wind is calm, as they run toward the playground or up the road to the big rocks, they say, “It’s a beautiful day!” Or, “It’s a perfect day for a walk,” or “It’s a good day to ride our bikes.”

And there are plenty of things that I say and do that I don’t want my kids to repeat (because I am a mother, but I’m far from perfect,) but I beam when I hear them have this sort of gratitude for a sunny day.

Because they’re so young, it gives me a bit of hope that the declaration and recognition of the good and beautiful things that they see and feel might become a sort of instinct that will serve them well when life is less than fair, less than perfect or unexpected in the worst ways.


Since the removal of the tumor that was blocking my tracheal tract this month, and the unexpected diagnosis that it is “cancerous,” I’ve been thinking about what has notoriously pushed me through the difficult times in the past. And I’ve been thinking about gratitude and how it serves me.

But first, I want to share that I’ve been having a hard time saying that I have cancer because I don’t feel like the amount of suffering I am going to endure here warrants that loaded and scary word. Because I’ve seen cancer take its difficult toll on the people I know and love and I’ve seen sickness ravage their bodies and take the light from their eyes.

I don’t know this for certain, but from what I understand, my life with this diagnosis will be short-lived. And because of that, something in me wants to save that word for the warriors who’ve had to fight harder. And the ones that we lost to it.

I realize now the “it could be worse” mantra is one I go to when I’m staring down a fear or suffering with grief or worry. I would say it during our infertility struggle and pregnancy losses, and I would say it when my dad was sick and dying in the hospital bed. He survived. We all survived it. It could be worse. We are the lucky ones.

To recognize others’ suffering beyond our own, I think, is a useful tool. But then, sometimes, so is walking to the top of a hill and crying out “Why?!” In my life, I’ve done both.

But for now all I can think is that I’m thankful to breathe better and thankful for a diagnosis and for good doctors and a supportive community and that it’s a beautiful day to watch my girls drink from the water hose and tear off their clothes to run naked in the sprinkler.

Thankful that, because the stars aligned just right to keep me safe, I can be here for that.

And I’m thankful that all through my childhood, the people who surrounded me pointed out their blessings as they saw them so that I could see them, too.

Even if it was as simple as melting snow on the hilltops, a ripe tomato from the garden, the back of a good horse, enough Juneberries to make a pie or just the sunshine on our shoulders on a perfect day to ride our bikes.


18 thoughts on “How to be grateful

  1. I love all the pictures of the your little girls, good luck at Mayo our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  2. Thinking of you Jessie!! Your grateful heart and ability to see the simpler things in life and find joy in them is sustaining you through this journey! Just know we got you..thru it all..we are here..good and bad..we got you!! Huge big hugs!!!

  3. Praying for you, asking God to guide the surgeons and caregivers, to give you a complete recovery, and to give you and your family peace. Ps. 91:11
    I enjoy your articles so much and love the photos! God’s blessings to you.

    • We wish to you and your family the best of everything.Allways enjoy your stories and pictures.You have a lot of folks praying for you.

  4. Sending thoughts & prayers for a successful ending to your journey through this dreaded disease. Love & ((Hugs))!

  5. Sending you prayers and strength, Jessie! You will get through this. ❤

    I was told after my first surgery I would die, but I didn't. It is almost 10 years, and I am still alive and kicking. 🙂

  6. I am sending my love and good wishes to you for a steady and firm way ahead. Things will be difficult for all of you but patience and perseverance will be strong and become second nature.

    Our daughter was diagnosed with a non-Hodgkin lymphoma near to her womb area. She discovered at the time of her first baby scan that she had a strange area that needed attention. She continued with her pregnancy and had cheamo for many sessions and fortunately a beautiful baby boy was delivered by C section a month early. The haematologists, nurses, porters and all medical staff were wonderful and we will never ever forget their support and encouragement. Lisa is well now, back to work, doing her house refurb and loving Finn who is nearly two. She, like you shows determination and positive thinking.

    There will be difficult and emotional times ahead for you but rest assured you are loved and will always be cared for.

    Remember you are a beautiful person who loves the world. Take care of yourself, remember the lip gloss and perfume and always smile.

    With love Lynda x


  7. Please know you have our thoughts and prayers on this journey of your life, Stay strong rely on family and friends you know everybody is there for you use them if needed.

  8. Prayers for a very successful health journey, Jesse. We have been a Mayo patient family for 7 years now and I know you are in the very best hands. My husband is again being treated for metastasized prostate cancer, but we still have lots of hope for many years of living. 7 years now since diagnosis then and surgery, so we are very thankful. Chemo now in Bismarck and then a return trip to Mayo. So thankful, too for the amazing medical community we have in Bismarck that are so willing to work together with Mayo Clinic. You are and will be in our prayers and God will take care of you. 🙏🏻🙏🏻

  9. Hi, Jessie. I’ve never met you but heard you sing a while back (Bob Dylan tribute @ Fargo Theater), read your column regularly in the Fargo Forum, & follow you on Instagram. I recently ordered & received a copy of your book “Coming Home”.

    On the inside of the cover you wrote “Thank you for reading! Much Love, ♥️J Veeder”. I, and the world, should be thanking YOU for writing. Such beautiful writing. I could have read your book in one sitting, but I didn’t want to….I wanted to savor the words, see the images in my mind that you painted with your words, and let your love of life, your family history, and your love for all of nature fill my soul. [Note: If Josh Duhamel gives up his gig as a spokesperson for North Dakota …you should, thumbs down, be the person who can share the beauty, spirit, and awesomeness of ND!!!]

    I was so saddened to hear about the current health issues you’re dealing with – but encouraged, as I hope you are…about the great hands you’re in at Mayo and the plan to get you back to good health as soon as possible.

    You have so many gifts & talents that you share with the world, Jessie. Thank you for your photos, your music, your insight into the beauty of life, and the struggles as well.

    Please know that my spirit is sending lots of love, positive energy, and good thoughts your way…for a successful surgery, complete recovery, and long life ahead.

    All life’s best to you!

    Kathy Fredette Moorhead, MN


    On Tue, May 26, 2020, 9:13 AM Meanwhile, back at the ranch… wrote:

    > Meanwhile, back at the ranch… posted: “Thank you all for the outpouring > of support, well wishes, love and prayers as we take the next step to get > this cancer out of me. I talked to the thoractic surgeon at Mayo on Friday > and it sounds like they will open me up at my sternum to get the best lo” >

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