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What am I thankful for? The next 5 minutes

This Thanksgiving season, my fellow "Fast Money Halftime Report" traders and I were asked to share with you the viewer, what we are thankful for as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. I said: "The next five minutes."

Recently, I celebrated my 49th birthday. For some people, they are blessed with the perspective of appreciating the next five minutes at a much younger age. Unfortunately, for most of us, that perspective generally appears later in life when either confronted with some form of adversity or our own mortality.

Last Thanksgiving I was blessed with that discovery, although initially it appeared to present itself in a rather ominous way. It began two days before Thanksgiving during a pre-examination for a colonoscopy. The following day, an abdominal scan confirmed a baseball-sized mass in the right lobe of my liver that was "suspicious for primary or secondary neoplasm."

As you can imagine, Thanksgiving was, well, let's just say unique. In the weeks that followed I tweeted " Want to measure your wealth? Next time life places you in the "fox hole," look around and see who has jumped in to help you. That's your wealth." So, as I share this story I will not cite the names of those who helped me, but let's be clear: I found out just how incredibly wealthy I really am. I have hugged those who helped me many times over the past year.

One of my foxhole friends arranged an 11am Thanksgiving call with one of the world's leading oncologists from California, also a board member of Faster Cures. Sitting in my Long Island office and expecting a plethora of medical information, I had blank sheets of paper strewn across my desk. However, this wonderful doctor, strategist and human being first directed me to read with him the "Serenity Prayer." I realize now how special and valuable that moment was.


The Saturday evening following Thanksgiving, ironically enough, was my niece's "Sweet 16" party. My immediate family is very small with only one sister. I lost both my parents to cancer — my mom in 1994 and my dad in 2000. As I sat and watched my niece dance with my brother-in-law, my own 5-year-old daughter sat next to me smiling from ear to ear. Choking back tears with the room spinning, I wondered if I would be there to dance at her Sweet 16 party.

If I chart my emotions and perspective since Nov. 24, 2014, I am confident sitting with my daughter that evening was my bottom. Immediately I picked her up and we went to dance together. What a special five minutes. I realized then: That is really all we have — the next five minutes.


In the days that followed, executives at both CNBC and Virtus Investment Partners encouraged me to take the remainder of 2014 off and focus solely on my health. During the month of December, I frequently visited with the hepatic oncology and surgical team at Memorial Sloan Kettering. I demanded a biopsy. They patiently advised against it. As they so properly advised: "You don't stick a needle in a bag of blood." They encouraged a conservative approach, while I wanted them to "just get it out of me."

When I was on CNBC in January, some viewers may remember that I asked the viewers to support Faster Cures. Now you understand why. After a fresh round of tests in early January, my hepatic surgeon on Jan. 20 delivered the fantastic news: They didn't believe the large mass was "nasty" in nature.

Since then, my doctors have suggested focusing on my lifestyle to heal myself. In bed early, an extremely healthy diet and limited public travel are part of each day for me. I submit to regular testing and although the mass has not shrunk, I prefer to focus on the fact that it has not grown. It doesn't belong in my liver, but it can stay there forever as long as it doesn't disrupt my next five minutes.

For the last eight years, I have had the unbelievable opportunity to share with the viewers my passion; investing and trading. Today, as a result of the past year, I appreciate that privilege even more. As I look toward 2016, it is time to re-engage on CNBC, social media and managing money. Focusing on my health, I haven't held a position in the market for most of 2015.

I often close emails wishing the recipient "health and happiness." When delivering a speech, I end by wishing the audience an abundance of health and happiness in their portfolios. And when I sign copies of my book, I encourage readers to "be long health and happiness." There is no value in your portfolio without those two holdings.

This Thanksgiving, this holiday season, each and every day I am thankful for the next five minutes.

The next five minutes — it's all yours. Make the most of it.

Commentary by Joseph M. Terranova, a senior managing director for Virtus Investment Partners, an asset-management firm with more than $60 billion under management. He is also author of the book, "Buy High, Sell Higher."