ginkgo trees
A photo of the two Ginkgo trees we planted in Piedmont Park in memory of my parents (Photo by Maria Saporta)

By Maria Saporta

It’s been five years. And I almost forgot to take note.

On Nov. 13, 2015, I had a lumpectomy to remove cancer from my right breast as well as 11 lymph nodes – two of which were cancerous.

Breast cancer had taken over my life as I completed radiation and participated in Piedmont Hospital’s Cancer Center and its many support programs.

But as time went on, my breast cancer became part of the background of my life as I went back to my normal life of family, friends and work.

Downtown island of flowers from 2015 (Photo by Lisa Panero)

Last Friday, on Nov. 20, I had my annual mammogram, and I started counting the years. The test showed no signs of breast cancer.

It was then that I started counting the years. Yes, I had reached that most important five-year milestone. If you survive five years cancer free, it’s likely your cancer will not return.

Unfortunately, I’m also cognizant that not everyone is as fortunate as me. Two dear friends who had shared their experiences with breast cancer and given me comfort – Traci Little and Joan Garner – were not so lucky. Their deaths reminded me that we can’t take life for granted.

Given that it’s Thanksgiving week, it’s so appropriate to stop and take notice of these past five years and to be grateful for being healthy during this most unsettling time in our lives.

Earlier today I went online and saw an item titled: “How do you celebrate five years cancer free?

Here are some tips for recognizing your milestones.

  1. Take time to reflect. Arrange for a quiet time to think about yourcancer experience and reflect on the changes in your life. … 
  2. Plan a special occasion. …
  3. Donate or volunteer. …
  4. Join an established … 
  5. Do something you like. …
  6. Celebrateyour way.

Those are good reminders for all of us to treasure day in and day out.

Thanksgiving is a special time to reflect – to be grateful for all we have – to savor feelings of contentment and joy – to remember what’s most important to all of us – to surround ourselves with people we love – to let go of past disappointments and embrace the possibilities ahead of us.

I’m especially grateful for the talented team of writers and staff who have contributed to SaportaReport and the soon-to-be-launched journalism nonprofit – Atlanta Civic Circle. We’re looking forward to providing more civic journalism for the good of metro Atlanta.

And I can’t say enough about the warmth that I get from my two adult children and so many special friends who have given me joy throughout the year.

On Sunday, a group of six women friends gathered to toast the recent birthdays of two among us. We met outdoors on a backyard patio with seasonally warm temperatures and falling leaves. We toasted each other with champagne as we checked in with how each of us were doing.

ginkgo trees
A photo of the two Ginkgo trees we planted in Piedmont Park in memory of my parents (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Each of us shared our fears, hopes, memories and personal news. When I told them about my five years cancer free and a clean mammogram, they cheered. It was the same reaction I got from two other of my dearest friends with whom I spent time with this past weekend.

The year 2020 has been a year of reflection combined with loss and self-discovery. Whether it’s the divisive political environment we’re in or our fears of living in the middle of a pandemic, we have had to reach deep down to find comfort and hope.

As the late John Lewis would say: “We can never give up. We can never give in.”

Today, those words of hope and perseverance capture my feelings exactly.

So, to all of our SaportaReport readers, wishing that you too will find comfort during this Thanksgiving week.

Maria Saporta, executive editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state. From 2008 to 2020, she wrote weekly columns...

Join the Conversation


  1. Maria, congratulations on your five-year anniversary . And thanks for the reminder to be grateful for what we have. — – Susan Percy

  2. So, Happy 5th Anniversary to my dear friend with whom I rarely agree with on politics . . . but am always so THANKFUL to talk with, debate with and be challenged by. You make my world so much more interesting.

  3. So, Happy Anniversary to a dear friend with whom I rarely agree with on politics, but always are THANKFUL to talk with, debate with and be challenged by. You make my world so much more interesting.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.