I celebrated my 52nd birthday a couple of days ago. The best word I know of to describe this birthday is LOVELY. Nine months ago, I wasn’t sure I was going to see another birthday. So while I am so thankful to be celebrating, I was a bit emotional as well.
When I used to ask my mother about getting older, she would say, “It’s better than the alternative!” At the time, I laughed it off, but this year, I felt the true meaning of that!
Last spring and summer, I knew something wasn’t quite right. I was having strange abdominal pains. I thought I had an ulcer, but my grandmother and mother both died of pancreatic cancer, so that is always in the back of my mind. My blood work had been excellent, so the doctor was confused. Because of the family history/high risk, my doctor ordered a sonogram. The sonogram showed that I had three spots on my liver. I knew this could be really bad. I didn’t feel fear. I felt sadness and guilt. I wasn’t ready to die. I was a newlywed, and wasn’t ready to leave my wonderful husband and kids. My youngest was only 15. She was still going to need me. Actually, you never stop needing your mom! Because of this test result, I then had an MRI. That test revealed that the spots on my liver were not a big deal….just blood vessels. That was a relief! However, there was a spot on my gall bladder, creating a mass on my liver. Again, I knew this could be really bad. If gallbladder cancer is caught early, it’s curable. If it spreads, it generally is not curable. Was this malignant?
So many thoughts were going through my mind. What would Al and the kids do without me? Would they be ok? Did I need to get my affairs in order? I needed surgery. How could we afford this? We were barely making ends meet, starting over together in our 50’s has not been easy.
I took Grace on a trip to Disney World….just the two of us. I wanted to be able to make some really great memories with her just in case. We had a great time, but I didn’t let on to her that I was sick, or that it could be really serious. I wanted her to have a worry free vacation. We went to a state park to see alligators and manatees. Then to Disney, and on to Saint Augustine, and a quick trip to the Atlantic Ocean. She was/is so young, and the thought of her not having a mother in her future was very scary for me. I had to make these memories with her, even though it was an expensive trip!
I met with the surgeon on a Wednesday afternoon, and was scheduled for surgery the following Tuesday. They removed what looked to be benign, along with my gall bladder, and a small piece of my liver to biopsy. The surgery was an ordeal, but it was all ok. The tumor was benign, but would have caused me a lot of problems because it was the type of tumor that gets really big, and can turn malignant. What a relief! What a reason to celebrate! We were now in some serious debt, but I was going to be ok. I had my life. I had my health.
So when approaching this birthday, Al asked me what I wanted. I honestly don’t need anything. I have my health. I have a job. I have a happy marriage. I have 3 beautiful children, and 2 wonderful step sons. I have a grandson. I have friends. I have a roof over my head. I have a great dog! I have so much to be thankful for! Another birthday? Absolutely! “It’s better than the alternative!”
My worst birthday as an adult was my 30th. I got a vacuum cleaner from my ex husband. My best birthday as an adult (so far) was my 52nd. I got my health. What an awesome life I have!
Don’t stress about that new wrinkle or gray hair. Don’t stress about things that jiggle that didn’t used to. Don’t stress about growing older. Count it as a blessing. Be thankful, and appreciate every day you have.