Birthdays are a big deal in my family. This was true long before cancer touched my family but especially now. As a three-time cancer survivor, I don’t take these opportunities for granted. I am grateful for the gift of another day. As I turn the page of another year, I wanted to pause to share 45 reasons to celebrate life as a cancer survivor.
My birthday present to all of you is simply to remind us that there is always gratitude to be found in this world. Even when you feel broken, it feels like challenges will overwhelm you, or luck and love seem to evade your day, you can feel grateful. Sometimes it is focusing on a simple breath in to remind you that you’re still alive. Next, focus on a grateful thought, then another and another. Until you remind yourself that yes, you can do this beautiful, sometimes messy and confusing, thing called life.
Finding the positive in each new day
In more than 40 years of life and almost 25 years as a cancer survivor, I have walked through a lot of darkness. Three cancers and health challenges from treatments, my dad’s death from cancer, divorce, heartbreak, disappointment, infertility, limitations, frustration and more. I could easily focus on the heartache and sadness from these, and most would probably agree I earned that right. But…..that’s not me. Because I’ve learned focusing on the negative doesn’t ever change the negative. Instead, it seems to reinforce it.
But changing my mentality to focus on the positive often brings…..positivity and unexpected outcomes. I get it, this probably sounds silly, like someone babbling about philosophy. However, stay with me. If you can pause for a moment, focus on some things you’re grateful for and bring you joy, really focus… don’t you feel a subtle shifting of your mind and emotions? Maybe a little smile or blip of happiness. Come on, try it!
In honor of my birthday, I’m going to share a list of 45 reasons to celebrate life as a cancer survivor (and you can smile at these whether you’re a cancer survivor or not!). These are many of the items I list in a journal and refer to when I’m having a tough day. They bring me joy and I hope you too.
45 reasons to celebrate life as a cancer survivor:
*These are in no particular order!
Bright flowers, especially yellow sunflowers
Walking on my own two legs after bone cancer
Hugs from my nieces and nephew
Being the middle sister between two amazing sisters/best friends
The velvet touch of a horse’s muzzle (chin/mouth/nose area); really, everything about a horse
Exploring new location and cultures
Music….there is a song for each mood and adventure!
Growing vegetables in a garden
Tossing aside society’s (and sometimes our own!) expectations and ideals about love and opening up to the right love that brings happiness, adventures, support and so much more
The love from my parents and happy childhood memories