It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cry If I Want To…

26 Oct

I am 51. How do you celebrate another year of life with cancer during a pandemic? By crying and being so grateful and overwhelmed with all the people and goodness you’re surrounded by. I’ve been busting out in tears alot lately; sometimes it’s being completely overwhelmed by this amazing life, and sometimes it’s sadness that comes with the burden of having cancer and wondering. Last night I cried because I really miss singing. It sounds dumb and it’s been so long since cancer surgery took my vocal cord, but sometimes grief over that loss bubbles up especially since my voice, music, and singing were such a big part of my life before cancer invaded my neck.

Last year, I was part of an event called Brushes With Cancer, an annual event held in different cities across the country by Twist Out Cancer. They match artists with cancer fighters/survivors as inspiration and the artists create something based on the cancer fighter’s story. A year ago I was matched with a professional singer and together we wrote a song. This year, I was able to attend the event (virtual because of Covid), and boy did I cry. Listening to all of the stories and seeing the art created from them was magical. I think the stories got to me because it reminded me that cancer affects so many people and their loved ones, and that I’m ‘part of the club’ that no one wants to be in. One piece of art that really affected me was a sculpture that a son created for his mother who is currently fighting cancer. It was a tangle of wood and steel with what looked like a wing at the top and in the middle sat a large stone. The metal represented strength and overarching peace and freedom while the stone represented the heavy burden of ‘cancer; strength and hope amidst the heaviness of cancer. ‘The Ascending’ which it was called, was beautiful and I felt it represented me too.

In 2011, The American Cancer Society had a “More Birthdays” campaign. That year, when I walked in Relay For Life, seeing the Happy Birthday signs broke me. I was overcome by tears after fighting and beating cancer three times and was so grateful to be able to celebrate more birthdays. Now, here we are, another diagnosis in 2017 and another birthday. Every birthday since given the Stage 4 diagnosis has been such a blessing and always a reminder to not waste the days. Today I’m 51. We’re in the middle of a pandemic so there is lots of anxiety and uncertainty in the world but here’s what I’m sure about: I’m alive and I’m surrounded by love, what else is there? Last year I posted a list of lessons I’ve learned and they still hold true so I thought I’d list them again:

  •  You are stronger than you think
  • Don’t fight your age
  •  Stay connected with younger people, it keeps your mind active and there’s lots to learn from each other
  •  Simple is better, there are so many things you don’t need; assess, trash, donate
  •  There are still so many good people in this world
  •  The Golden Rule is truth. If everyone treated people how they would want to be treated the world would be a better place.
  •  Actions are more important than words; Words don’t matter if your actions don’t match
  •  Bad things will happen
  •  There’s no need to be around toxic people, they just poison you and it takes too long to recover
  •  Everyone’s days are numbered, live like it
  •  Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, read the book (paraphrased from Dolly Parton)~because everyone comes from a really good story
  •  Beauty and ugly both come from the inside, not what’s reflected in the mirror
  •  There’s no ‘perfect time’ to follow your dreams, just dive right in
  •  Loving God is different than being religious
  •  Life is still filled with wonder just open your eyes

Lastly, always be grateful.

Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile.’~Mark Twain

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