"I decided if you're lucky enough to be alive, you should use each birthday to celebrate what your life is about."
Today is my birthday.
And I'm damn happy about it!
Ten years ago, when I was turning 49, I was in a much different place. I had a kid in college and a kid in high school. I had a puppy. My husband was really busy with his job and traveling a lot. I was looking for a new job. I spent a lot of time and money hiding the grey in my hair. I was dreading my next birthday. And . . . I was beginning to seriously worry that there was something wrong with me.
By the time my 50th birthday rolled around, though, I was so happy to see it.
Although I never think having cancer was a "good" experience, I know that it brought a perspective about life and living that changed everything for me. As I celebrated my 50th birthday, I was just a few weeks out of chemo. My hair hadn't grown back yet. I was just beginning to feel strong enough to take a walk around my neighborhood every day. I was fragile, but ready to begin living again. Trust me -- I had no regrets or concerns about turning 50!
I'm pretty sure that this entire decade of my 50s has been different because of my cancer experience. Although I likely would have gotten to the same place (physically, emotionally, spiritually) eventually, I'm pretty sure my new perspective got me there faster! Before cancer, I can't imagine I'd have let my hair just be its natural white. I think it would have taken me longer to go out without worrying about putting on makeup. I know I would never have started a blog. I doubt I would have had the confidence to take art classes. I would have thought meditation was too "out there." And I'm certain I'd still be just dreaming and waiting-for-someday to travel.
Being diagnosed with cancer . . . and then coming through treatment . . . just brought a sense of clarity and immediacy to just LIVING. Really . . . this decade of my 50s has been so much richer because I suddenly understood (in a very real way) that I actually wasn't going to live forever! That I needed to take responsibility for embracing every day that I have. That if I wanted to do something, I better do it now.
I am so lucky . . .
to have been diagnosed early
to have a new treatment protocol available
to have had the support of Tom and my kids, my sister and my parents
to have LIVED.
So, my birthday is a big deal to me. It's a marker that I've reached another year. I'm still here.
And damn happy about it!