The idea of this article started a couple of months ago. October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month and my 40th birthday, I knew I wanted to write about how and what I was feeling. Each time I tried to sit down and write about it, I had so many emotions it was to hard to put into words what not only this month means but what turning 40 means. It took me until this morning, two days after my 40th birthday, to actually put into words my emotions surrounding it. I started to ask myself:
Am I growing or dying – because I am doing one or the other. Am I living a life full of positivity and possibilities or am I wading in the pool of pity? Am I just existing or am I working towards serving a purpose? What is my purpose?
I’ve thought a lot about the last 39 years and the reoccurring theme has been the faces of all of the doctors that have said I wouldn’t make it, who looked at me with pity, and the dumb founded look they each had when I said I would prove them wrong. A third of my life has been taken up by cancer. 40 is just a number but it represents the years of struggle that have made me who I am. 40 represents the years I have put into achieving happiness. It represents the years it has taken me to truly understand what living moment to moment joy feels like. These past 40 years have taught me to be fully present in the now, but it has taken me this long to understand that most of us believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. Most of us go through life unconscious of the power we have to create our best life. Now, 40 years into it, I finally understand that I can miss my whole life thinking that way.
I have come to realize that the purpose of my 40 years – over 12 with cancer – is to help others live with adversity and not let their challenges destroy their chances of living their best life. I used to say that “Cancer is what I have, not who I am” – I even used that motto as the title for my e-book. While I still believe that cancer and my adversity does not define me, my journey with cancer is what has helped me to become the person I am today. At the age of 27 when I was first diagnosed, I didn’t question if I would live, but how I would live. My family and I have worked hard throughout this journey to make each day count and to be a point of inspiration and hope for those that cross our path.
Happiness is a choice. Living a life full of love and laughter is a choice. Today, standing at the beginning of a new decade of life, I am recognizing the work I have consistently put in to create the best life for myself and my family. I often say that the present is a gift and we should live each day as if tomorrow is not promised. While it may not be promised, tomorrow offers the opportunity to improve upon the day before and to plan for the day ahead. We must each find our reason for being, what drives and inspires us. The future and all of the possibilities it represents is my motivation.