About 2 weeks ago I had a birthday.
I am now 54 years old.
And today marks 2 years to the day since I was released from the hospital after my hysterectomy to remove some of the cancer (she couldn't get it all...those pesky lymph nodes).
I used to loathe my birthday but now I am more grateful than ever to have one.
Two years ago when I was diagnosed I wasn't sure I would even see this birthday so I welcome it and all that comes with it.
And for the first time in 2 years I was not on pain killers or recovering from surgery on my birthday.
I got to celebrate that I AM ALIVE.
And for the first time since I was diagnosed I get to dream about the possibility of a future.
I can make plans.
I can look ahead.
No, I'm not cured.
Not even close.
But right now my disease doesn't seem to be active so I'll take it for what it is and celebrate that RIGHT NOW I don't seem to have active cancer in my body.
My scan in January will tell us more and if it's clear it will be another step forward.
I've had a lot of birthdays...
and I want a lot more.
I've learned so much over these last 2 years...
I've learned I am stronger than I ever thought I would be.
I've learned I can hear terrifying things about my body and I can look my doctor in the eye and say "ok, so what are we gonna do about it" and I have faced what they have asked me to do.
I've cried so many tears...and I am glad to say I have cried as many tears of gratitude as I have cried tears of fear and anger.
I've learned that being pissed off that I have cancer does nothing to get rid of my cancer but it does help me to fight harder.
I've learned that those nights that I am alone (which is every night) in my bed, scared out of my mind, my thoughts racing and fear coursing through my body that I can still find a way to wake up in the morning and face another day.
I've had a lot of people tell me how brave and strong I am.
My answer to that is this:
ANYONE can be as brave and strong as I am...in fact braver and stronger...because when you have no choice but to face up to what God has put before you then you have no choice--you face up to what God has laid upon you.
I've had a lot of people say very kind and amazing things to me...things I feel I don't deserve and things I hope I honestly live up to.
I PROMISE you that if you had to face what I have been faced with YOU WOULD BE JUST AS STRONG.
Because you aren't given a choice.
So you do it.
No one gets asked "do you want to have cancer?"
you just get it.
or you don't.
but you don't get a choice in it.
Pretty sure no one would say "yeah! Bring on the cancer..."
And thank goodness we can't see it coming because if we could I'm pretty sure we would all say "nope...I don't want to do that..."
(so yeah don't smoke...and eat healthy...and get your checkups...)
I've looked back at my life and tried to see if something I have done led to this and the closest thing I can come up with is maybe because I had HPV at one time maybe that had something to do with it. (no, I don't have research supporting it...it's just my guess).
I know I don't have cancer because I was mean to my sisters...or jealous of a friend...or once cheated at cards...
God doesn't give out cancer as a punishment for wrong doing (or else all the drug dealers and murderers would be dying of cancer).
Some of us just get it.
Lately I have tried to figure out that if I manage to stay in the state of NED (no evidence of disease) how I might ever try to make a man comfortable with loving a woman who has been through what I have been through.
That is if I ever MEET a man
and actually have a date...
because the last date I had was 7 years ago...
but IF I did, how do I present myself.
For I am now not only flawed with the flaws I have (talking too much, being over emotional, quick tempered, a somewhat frustrating woman to deal with...and then there is all the unicorn nonsense) but now I have the very real flaw of a Stage 4 cancer.
And I have decided to look at myself like the Japanese look at object they consider beautiful.
The concept is called Wabi-Sabi:
a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay
I love the thought of being beautiful and yet imperfect...imperfectly beautiful...a beauty that is more beautiful because it is not perfect.
I am not a Victoria's Secret model...but I don't need to be...
There is a Japanese art called Kintsugi where a broken piece of pottery is repaired with gold, silver or platinum...in other words the cracks are filled with precious metal to make it whole again.
Well I have had a whole lot of platinum poured into me thanks to chemo (my chemo infusions are platinum based...cisplatin and carboplatin)
So like a precious vessel that has been cracked open my cancer has now filled me with something precious to repair and improve my esthetic.
Because cancer has caused me to grow in so many ways and to accept myself in ways I never thought I could.
I now see the imperfect as perfect...not because I am perfect but I am now a more perfect version of myself thanks to what I have been through.
My sweet beautiful friend Terrific T has cancer...she's fighting breast cancer (pray for her!) and she posted a lovely story about how glow sticks have to be broken in order to shine.
Something that has to break to be what it is intended to be.
That's how I see myself (and my sweet T)...we have been broken but we now shine.
A glow stick is just a plastic stick with some stuff inside it until it is cracked...but once you crack it the chemicals release and mix and the stick shines
and it glows
and it can light up everything around it
and you can see it from a distance.
So my breaks and cracks and flaws and empty spaces I now see as beauty.
My scars are a roadmap to what I have experienced.
They tell a story.
You can see the scars from my breast augmentation and tummy tuck---something I did to make myself feel better about myself and to put the very fat girl away for good.
And my long scar down my middle where the parts that provided me with children were removed along with cancer...
and the scars on my belly from the laparoscopic tools that were used to repair my hernia and to remove my gallbladder...
and the scar on my back from my spinal fusion...
and next spring there will be a scar on my right leg from a knee repair.
My skin is not smooth and unlined...there are lines on my face from years on this earth.
I am a wondrous and wonderful story of life, pain, illness, struggle, and joy...
And I will shine....
and the cracks in me will light up...
Inspiration Song: "Shine a Little Love" by ELO...because you all shine a little love on my life and let me see...
Bye Darlings...we are not flawed...we are wonderfully made...we are perfectly imperfect and that is beautiful...