Friday, March 27, 2009

Happy (Belated) Birthday To Me

Self-indulgent? OK, ya got me. 

But hey, it's my birthday (it was March 25th) and I'll celebrate any way I want to. Partly because I'm an adult––most of the time––and because birthdays have such a greater meaning now more than ever. And I can thank cancer––that doesn't sound right––for that. cancer tried to take my birthdays away like the neighborhood bully takes away your lunch money. Every day you dread running into that bastard who is going to make you hand over anything you have that he doesn't have––and you pray you don't see him on the weekends, 'cause you just got your allowance and you want buy another pack of baseball cards or the next issue of Spidey.

It's somewhat morbid, but I've always thought of my tombstone around my birthday. Born March 25, 1958. Died? Because when you see a tombstone with the dates of life, you start figuring out how old that person was when they died. If it's someone who lived past 70, you figured they had a long life to live it to the fullest. When you see someone who passed away before 50, they died too young. I'm in the middle of that. And cancer has put me there.

I was talking to my friend Matt, who has been cancer free for over 15 years. Yeah, friggin' awesome. We were talking about the "what if" present that cancer gives you––what if it comes back? He said after he was told he didn't have to go to the cancer center and he could just see his GP Doctor, the "what if?" went away. He still thinks about it every now and then, but not every day, several times a day. I'm still in the stage of "what if?", thinking about it every day, sometimes 4-5 times a day. Work helps me take my mind off of it, but work also contributes to it. Work is a lot of stress. And stress brings down your immune system. And cancer strikes like a knife to the kidneys when your immune system is weak.

Leading up to my birthday, Teresa always asks me what I want for my birthday. My answer used to be, "peace and quiet for just one day." (Still waiting for that present.) This time when I was asked, I thought to myself, "I want a day without thinking about cancer." But you can't buy that at Target, Home Depot or Best Buy. So I settled for the next best thing––spending time with my family at dinner. And it was the best present I received on my birthday, full belly and all.

Yes, Happy Birthday to me.

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