Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Birthday Bravado

When I was younger, we would spend many summers in Hawaii where my aunt, uncle and cousins lived. I can recall several birthdays there as my sisters and I all have summer birthdays.  We always had these extravagant cakes that had a Hawaiian them.  They are some of my brightest and joyous childhood memories.  

Having just celebrated my 39th birthday, I have been appropriately distracted. And what a relief it is.  My birthday fell perfectly two days before I began my 2nd regime of weekly Taxol chemo treatments. So I was on an upswing in terms of energy and recovery.  I dare to say that even a few days went by where I did not even think about chemo.

I admittedly was dreading this birthday. I didn't want to be THAT girl - chemo girl on her birthday.  But, I did some serious soul searching and realized that this was perhaps the most important birthday of my life. I mean I was alive - literally. While I have maintained a positive attitude throughout this process, the fact remains that I have had to face mortality on an entirely new level. It's an existential scenario that is difficult to describe. And as cliche as it sounds, cancer brings an important perspective and appreciation regarding the preciousness of life. I realized that this was a day to celebrate not just this past year, but to look to the future and enjoying life on an entirely different level. And I can officially say it was the BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER.  

It was a combination of so many things. Being pampered with a spa day, having my sister visiting from New York, and most importantly hearing from so many friends and family who I love so much and have been my energetic safety net.  But, it was also something else.  I realized that all of the mental, physical, and spiritual challenges of the last 6 months were preparing for the most important birthday gift of all - the gift of receiving.  I realize that all of it has been a training ground that took being stripped down of so much to ultimately burst my heart wide open. As a result,  I am able to receive love, support, and guidance in a way I have never felt capable of.  

It feels giddy and joyous and for this I am grateful. While I did not get the dramatic Hawaiian cake this year, I received the most delicious cupcake accompanied by a $600 bottle of Cristal sent over to my friends and I from a complete random stranger who somehow recognized it was my birthday.  The kindness and generosity from this stranger was such a beautiful gift both in a tangible and DELICIOUS form, as well as a gracious gift from the universe which I interpreted as an "Atta Girl" and to keep me motivated for the remainder of my journey. 

So onward and upward we go, with the gift of gratitude as my guide. 

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