Today is my birthday. This birthday is very different from last year’s birthday. Last year I had just had the second chemo infusion on my husband’s birthday and my birthday was one of the dog days. One of the days I wished there was such thing as coma therapy for chemo. What a difference a year makes. I vaguely remember thinking that last year, but this year is a much more positive view of things. It is more positive in general. My middle daughter reminded me that cancer changes you, but it is your choice how it does so.
Her example that stopped my heart was that cancer can make you stronger and more open or it can make you close up with fear that it may happen again. She thinks that I am opening up, that while I am scared that it might happen again I am using that for strength in doing my best to make sure that it doesn’t happen because of my choices. She is an excellent partner in all of this. In one post I told you about how she didn’t believe us about my positive prognosis and then she challenged the oncologist on her relative honesty.
She is strong. She is not an in-your-face or a you’re-weaker-than-me strong person. She is strong in that she knows how she feels and what she wants and takes steps to make it happen. She pays attention to what I want and helps me make it happen when she can. As I watch her with her friends, she pays attention to them having fun and is always a step or two ahead ensuring their needs are met all while she is having fun too. She stays the course and makes adjustments early and effortlessly. Except with her younger sister, seriously, she isn’t a saint, just pretty wonderful.
She is part of 4-H and wanted to take part in the egg cookery contest and her choice was to make a keto cheesecake. She chose this because I am living keto. There is some indication that a ketogenic lifestyle can stop a mechanism within cancer cells, essentially starving them before they can organize into a tumor or spread. There is more to it than that, but that is the gist. It never occurred to her not to do something that supported this new way of eating for me. Even when she came in dead last in the dessert category of the contest. She looked at me and said two things: well, someone has to be last and I guess they don’t like keto yet, we’ll show them how good it is.
I told her she had such a good attitude and she stole my breath by telling me that I was showing her how. That this was just a contest, she learned something, had fun and why not have a good attitude just because she didn’t win. She said got it from me that I always tell her that you learn more from things not going right than when they do, and this was just a contest not cancer–besides, this actually did right, the cheesecake was good, it just didn’t go her way in judging. Whoa.
This little pumpkin of twelve years is so strong and brave and cool and she said that in some way I contributed to that. Because I didn’t let cancer shut me down, I chose to stay open, made me stronger. It is so weird to hear her say those things about me when I admire those things about her, and her sisters, and wish I was that way now, let alone at twelve!
All the things she went through in what was honestly a less than single parent household for the better part of six months, just stuns me. The six months after treatment weren’t a picnic either, there is a lot of cleanup after the cancer runaway train of a crazy tornado, we’re still cleaning up. She is amazing, and she recognizes the changes in herself, she is stronger, more open and way more secure in what she wants and how she feels than most adults. She is not even a little boastful about this, she takes this as a matter of what happened because of the circumstances not that she did anything except make the choice to stay open, be strong, learn from this and not to close herself off.
What a difference a year makes.
Happy birthday to everyone that shares this day with me, I am glad to be celebrating it! We will make up for last year’s seriously lack of celebration. We will continue to choose strength and openness, the alternative just isn’t appealing to any of us and I hope it isn’t to you either! Keep reminding yourself what a difference a year can make.
If you want to help, please go to https://www.supportful.com/survivorsherpa and help us make it easier for other people going through cancer and stay open and strong so that they don’t have to journey alone and can thrive after cancer.