American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

From the Director's Desk

A Season of Gratitude, Giving, and More Adaptation

Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS

Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS
Medical Director, ACS Cancer Programs

We are entering the holiday season, a time when we share with friends and family our thanks for our bounties and our gifts as expressions of caring. For many, if not most of us, there are well-established traditions associated with the holidays, traditions that bring us comfort and joy. But this year promises to challenge our traditions.

While we may still be grateful and wish to give, our expressions of thanks and giving may need to take on new forms. With COVID-19 levels now reaching rates exceeding 100,000 cases per day in the United States, it is becoming increasingly unsafe and unwise for us to share our homes and meals according to our customs. So once again, we find ourselves needing to adapt to the constraints imposed by the virus and adjust our expectations to meet our new reality. We will do our best if we can differentiate between the things we can control and influence from those things that are out-of-bounds, while preserving our need to express our gratitude and our need to give. We can do this.

For one example, we can be thankful that vaccines for COVID-19, appearing on the near horizon, are showing promise for being efficacious. We can be grateful for all the essential workers who show up to work to grow and deliver our food and to make and transport the products that we need to keep working and living, as well as for the health care workers who give tirelessly. The gift we can give back is helping to protect our community by following local, regional, and national guidelines when they are issued. The gift of protecting others may be a gift to a stranger or unknowingly a gift to a close loved one who is at high risk of suffering from COVID-19. Following guidelines may mean that more people with cancer, heart disease, and other chronic conditions can still get timely care, and health care workers will get the breaks they need to keep up the front lines of the pandemic. Giving what you can and being thankful for what you have could go a long way this year.