Sitting here in the final hour of my 40th birthday…..I’m just so extremely grateful. This was not an age I was overly excited about…..it seemed like such an old age when I was younger…..an age I thought would take forever to reach…..yet hear I am. I thought I would dread it….each day getting closer. But I’m ok…..and this is why.
I shouldn’t be here. Plain and simple. I had an aggressive horrible disease that almost killed me. Almost 16 years ago. It’s just crazy to think that I really was so close to dying…looking back on it now. I fought so damn hard, and today…..I get to celebrate another birthday.
I can’t complain about my age, there are people who never make it here. I’m so thankful for this amazing day. 40. Yikes!!! It’s still crazy to think……but it’s such a wonderful age!
This was the best one yet. My incredible husband and amazing friends have been lying to me for weeks…..and pulled off an epic surprise birthday party! I’m telling you….it’s not easy to pull one over on me, and they did it! I have never felt so loved.
This room was filled!!!!! Overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe it! Life long friends. Family. People I met because of cancer…..and after. I’m such a blessed person…..and so very thankful I’m here to celebrate another year!!! And as a dear friend told me today….40 is a gift!
I am beyond thrilled to have my story featured on the Love What Matters website!!! A chance for my story to be spread further in hopes of reaching anyone who may need to see it! Check it out! I’m so excited!!!!
Love What Matters
This is something I will always write about…..because it had such a great impact on my life. Another year will come and go…..without my baby sister.
I’ve talked about her before….we lost her a couple of weeks before her first birthday from meningitis. It devastated our family. She would be 29 this year…..and it’s just one of the really weird things that line up for this year…..
I was 10 and in the 5th grade when she passed away 11/9/1990. I remember the day….it was a half day at school on a Friday. I was excited to ride the bus home without the high school kids…..we got to sit in the back when they weren’t there. This year…..my oldest daughter is 10, in the 5th grade, and has a half day this friday, the 9th. Crazy, eh? She was also named after my sister, her middle name is Rebecca. And just a little bit of a stretch….I had Hailey a couple of weeks before I turned 29….. I can’t help but look at my daughters and the relationship they have with each other. I’m so extremely thankful I had all girls…..because I missed out on having a sister in my life. I love seeing them together and knowing they have something so precious.
And at this age……I can look back and see just how many “sisters” I have and had in my life. They always say that if you can find just a few close friends in your lifetime you have been extremely blessed. I can say that I’ve had so many amazing women in my life that I can call sister….and even though I still feel heartbroken over the fact I didn’t get to go through life with mine….I’ve had so many women to step in and help fill that void.
So in this anniversary month where I remember my sister, I also count my blessings. I have 3 beautiful daughters who will get that sister relationship, and I have so many beautiful friends that are like sisters.
I was inspired to write this post because of my Facebook memories. I really love the feature, seeing all the posts over the years without having to search and scroll through endless posts. This particular one I’ve done several times on the 4th of July, change my profile pic. It’s an old picture, and I do it more often than not, just because of the theme. Obviously it’s the picture with my post, but there is a story behind it…..of course!
This picture is from my first Relay for Life as a cancer fighter. I was going through treatment at the time, and I had joined my oncology office’s relay team….Soles for Souls. I loved my oncology team, they felt like family. But this wasn’t my first Relay….it was my 2nd. My first time was the year before. My boyfriend at the time, now my husband, and I were part of our church team.
I made the decision to join the team after meeting a new client to me. I worked for the state DHS office, and this family came in because they needed extra help. The mom/wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and they were needing more help than their insurance and finances could offer. For some reason I was very drawn to this family. I had a heart for many of my clients, but this family really got to me. I helped them find all the resources they could use and talked often with them about her treatment progress and prognosis. This was a case I had during my first year on the job, and I had not yet been hardened by the job. I felt a special connection to the cause that year…..so I took part in the Relay. Later that year, when I received my own diagnosis……I had the chance to meet with that same family for a routine review. When I broke the news to them….we all cried together. It was surreal that I had such a connection to this woman, and then was faced with the same battle.
That next year when I decided to fully participate in Relay….this beloved client had lost her battle. I was devastated, heartbroken, and terrified. She was the only client I attended a funeral for……and eventually I lost touch with her family as their needs changed. I have always had a special place in my heart for her, and I wonder about her family often.
Seeing that picture makes me remember that time and how some people are placed in your life for a reason. I don’t know if knowing her made me more aware of myself when I discovered my tumor? Maybe I was more willing to see a doctor for it rather than ignore it because I was too young. I’m not sure…..but I do know the profound impact she had on me and I’m forever grateful for that. She was a kind person with a compassionate heart. She comforted me in the beginning of my journey as hers was coming to an end.
That first year I walked in Relay during the survivor lap…..I didn’t walk alone. I walked in her memory….and promised myself that I would always support those going through this horrible disease. It’s an incredible feeling to have walked with so many people that survived cancer….and be with people all remembering those we have lost.
Rest in peace J.