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Greetings from Jamaica! The sun is shining, and I’ve eaten my weight in food, and I am so very happy to be here.

I assume that that sentence will be true by the time you are reading this post. I, in fact, am cheating a bit and am writing this post in advance of my trip and scheduling it to appear while I am gone.

If I have done this correctly (and it’s very possible I have not), today should be August 9th. This glorious date is also known as my birthday. The big 2-9. Happy birthday to me! (And a one-day belated happy birthday to my beautiful, smart, best sister in the whole wide world. I love you sissy!)

My birthday cake from my 21st. Thanks mom!

This birthday feels like a pretty significant one for me, as I say goodbye to twenty-eight. It was right after my birthday last year, at this time, that I found a lump in my breast and my entire world changed after that moment. Twenty-eight was a hard year; a year filled with many lessons, challenges, and triumphs. I’m sure for most people, twenty-eight is not necessarily a particularly significant year in their lives. Eventually all the years start to mush together, and become periods of time or life-stages, rather than an individual 365 days. But in my case, I am quite confident that I will never forget the 365 days of being a twenty-eight year-old.

I think many people who have had cancer would say that birthdays take on a new meaning after you have been diagnosed. They truly do become a celebration, and an accomplishment, rather than just another year. I have noticed that most people view getting older and aging as something to fear, and something they don’t want to face. It seems everyone makes comments and complains about how old they are getting, or how much they’re dreading turning 30/40/50/60, etc.

I am no longer part of this massive majority of humans who fear birthdays and wish for eternal youth. I dream of getting old. I dream of turning thirty. Occasionally, if I’m having an overly optimistic day, I may even dream of what it would be like to be forty. Forty, right now, sounds ancient to me. I wish I could be forty right now, and have 11 more years under my belt. And if I’m really fantasizing here, I wish I were ninety right now, with all the life experiences one is supposed to have had. Ninety, with cancer. Still not ideal, but I’d take it over twenty-eight, with cancer.

I think getting older is a gift. It’s a privilege, to make it through another year, and have your health. It’s not a given, and it’s not your right. With each birthday you are fortunate enough to celebrate, comes a certain amount of luck. I feel very lucky to get to have another birthday, and to be able to share it with the person I love most in the world, while sitting on a sunny beach. I’ve earned this day, and I’ve struggled to get here. And now that I’m here, getting older never looked so good.

Here’s to twenty-nine, and the dream of thirty.

If you’d like to give me a birthday gift, please help fund breast cancer research, which is the only gift I really want. Thank you!

Looking in the mirror

Last week I think I hit a new low of sheer misery. The fatigue that comes with chemotherapy is truly cumulative, and with each new treatment, it is growing increasingly difficult to do any of the things I once enjoyed. Such as taking a walk. Or lifting my laptop. Or lifting my head. The tiniest things we all take for granted have become incomprehensible to me. Memories of the past. Of a life I once lived, where my body would do whatever I asked of it, with ease. I feel as though I have been thrust into old age almost overnight. My bones ache when I try to move them. My body cries out for rest after walking up a few stairs. I wake up at night with hot flashes, my cheeks burning, thanks to the menopausal effects of chemo. Creases are starting to form on the outer corners of my eyes. My stomach and face are bloated constantly from all the drugs, making me look like I am five months pregnant. I can’t follow a basic conversation without losing focus, or feeling like I need to shut my eyes. I am an old lady. At the ripe age of 28.

Chillin with my Goodnight Moon bunny in bed, where I spent all of last week. I am looking super cancer-y these days. Yikes.

It has been difficult for me to look in the mirror lately. I don’t like what I see. A bald, puffy face, with red patches all over my cheeks and glossy eyes. Is that really me? It is hard to feel healthy or strong, when the image reflected back at me is anything but. Lately I am starting to feel as though I will never get my old self back. I can’t imagine having life in my face again. Or having hair. It seems like appearance should be relatively low on the list of things to feel bad about, when you’re dealing with all the crap that comes with a cancer diagnosis. But it is proving to be one of the biggest challenges for me. Looks aren’t everything, but when you’re already feeling just about as low as a human can feel, it really does add insult to injury.

It is hard for me to look at pre-cancer photos of myself now. I feel very disconnected from the girl I see. She’s pretty, and healthy, and happy, and completely unaware of what is about to happen to her. It’s as though I am looking at someone else’s life, even though I know she is me. Did I really do all those things at one time? Did I really look like that? Did I really have hair? I want to go back into those photos, just for one minute, just to remember what it’s like, to be happy and pretty. To soak up those moments. Because they are starting to slip away from me.


I hope that eventually I can start feeling better about what I see in the mirror. View my reflection as an image of a brave warrior, rather than one of a sick cancer patient whose body has been continuously cut, poked, and poisoned. I don’t want to be that girl who cries when she looks in the mirror. I have never been that girl. I refuse to let her win. And anyone who knows me knows I always get my way.