The birthday that came on like a freight train
Can I open up to you about something we might call “birthday bipolar condition?” I had a bday on May 30, and like many aspects of the cancer journey, I have had mixed feelings about it.
On one hand, I stopped being excited about birthdays when I hit middle age. There’s something about turning 52 or 56 that just doesn’t get the blood pumping. It feels like a reminder that I’m no longer young, and even middle age is racing by.
On the other hand, I have never been so intensely passionate about having a birthday. This is a birthday I wasn’t supposed to have. Most pancreatic cancer patients die within 3-6 months of diagnosis. I started treatment in February 2018. That’s 16 months ago! This was a miracle birthday — my second miracle birthday since I was diagnosed. Every birthday from here on out will be a miracle. Maybe instead of 58, I just turned 2.
A lot of thoughts and feelings shift and re-shift along the cancer journey. There are so many different emotions -- from joy to deep sadness; from "I can do this" to "I can't do this anymore;" from energized to complete exhaustion. The emotions are so strong and so varied that it can be a challenge just to keep up with what is going on within oneself.
Well, as this 2nd birthday approached, I had feelings I have never had about a birthday. I reflected on how much struggle it took to get to the Big Day. I dwelt on how much love and prayer has been laid out by my family and you all in the Beck Village. All that love and prayer has paved the way to another birthday.
As May 30 approached, the feelings about having another birthday built day by day. By the time the day was there, the intensity of making it to another May 30 was like an ocean wave that picks you up and rolls you around, leaving you breathless. Even a few days later, the emotions are still very strong. I haven’t been able to write this post without feeling everything again and shedding tears of gratitude.
Here’s the gift I want for my birthday: the gift of perseverance. It can only originate in God — who perseveres with us no matter what — so the request for perseverance is a request for prayer.
It is also a renewed invitation to love and support us. The gift of perseverance is channeled through people like you who love somebody enough to say, “Come on. I’ll help you.” Or, as Simon and Garfunkel put it:
“When you’re down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I'll take your part when darkness comes...
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down..."
Or as Paul put it: “Bear one another’s burdens, and in so doing you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2)
I am thankful to be 58! Or should I say 2? 😉
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