Happy Birthday to me

Tomorrow is my birthday…the big 32. Big? I can hear the sarcastic snort from anyone older than me through my computer. 🙂 I know I’m still young but I feel like this year has

I’m a Cancer with Cancer…fitting 🙂

aged me physically and mentally in ways that are difficult to describe. I’ve never been a big birthday celebration person. Most of the time a few friends at a pub and a nice dinner are more than enough. My birthday has always felt like a normal day and I let it pass with a mild interest and add another digit to my age. This year is different. This year I feel very profoundly that we don’t know how many birthdays we will get. That absolutely nothing in this life is guaranteed. My perspective right now is a bit colored by news I received this weekend of a fellow “chemo-cise” exercise partner. She was one of the few women I connected with and was always there with positive encouragement and to ask me how I’m doing. She knows what I’m going through because she had the exact same pathology that I do (down to the same number of affected lymph nodes) and therefore the same treatment. Chemo was finished for her 2 years ago and she was pronounced a “survivor”…on Friday she learned that the cancer was back and had spread to her global lymphatic system and she’ll learn next week whether it had spread further. It is hard to separate her news from my future. I hear a lot of stories on both sides. For some people the cancer goes away and stays away. Others are not as fortunate. The problem is never being able to know for sure which side you’re on.

Yikes, heavy I know. I won’t wallow in this place but the news is fresh and right now it’s pretty consuming especially as I’ve approached my birthday. This past week I have been thinking about how different things are now and all the things that I’ve either learned this year or felt on a deeper level. I’ll list a few of them…

  1. My God is very real and very present. This isn’t superficial statement…there were days I couldn’t have gotten out of bed but for his grace
  2. Asking “Why me?” is a tempting but extremely dangerous question…and one that causes an endless spiral and doesn’t have an answer
  3. Hope is a powerful force. Despair is an equally powerful force. And I have the choice.
  4. We are surrounded by family, friends and coworkers who have been generous and supportive beyond what we feel like we deserve but are extremely thankful for.
  5. As a woman I will never define myself by my hair or by my body parts.
  6. That being said…don’t underestimate the mental benefits of knowing you look good. A little retail therapy and some make up can be trans-formative.
  7. Our bodies are absolutely amazing and can fight off a lot naturally. Feed them well and keep them strong.
  8. I never knew “You have a nice shaped head” was a valid compliment 🙂
  9. Sometimes I have to yell or throw something. No one keeps it together all the time, nor should I have to.
  10. Nose hairs have a purpose. And if you happen to not have any during allergy season keep some tissues handy.
  11. I am stronger than I knew…
  12. …but I need to work harder on allowing myself to be weak and allowing people to help
  13. Never ever take your health for granted

I think that’s enough for now. Hope y’all had a good weekend.



18 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to me

  1. Two comments about “hope” come to mind from a book I recently read by Jurgen Moltmann. Since I can only experience all this stuff through some vicarious empathy, I am stuck with quotes and weird examples which only approximate the sort of things you are experiences… in other words, forgive my ignorance – I cannot help it. 😦

    “Our daily hope is kindled by our enduring hope, and enduring hope acts like a purifying figure on the hopes of everyday, burning away the germs of vanity and the canker of resignation, both judging and raising up.”


    “Our life becomes the sign of hope for the future of the whole world. We ourselves become hope – God’s hope in this world.”

    So yeah, I was thinking about those as I read this. I love you and Jonathan, miss you and am praying for your marriage and vigor in hope as you go through this. I’m sure there are times you’d rather not bear the burden of demonstrating hope to me and the rest of us, but I am thankful for how you are sharing this and teaching me through it.

  2. It is people that go through extreme pain (and share their wisdom thereof) that help the rest of us get through our petty pain. God recycles.

  3. So glad we’ve been able to support you through this process and be encouraged by you as well. It was good to see you today and I’m glad that you had a 32nd birthday. May you be blessed with many more pub times and dinners.

  4. Very tough news!! Our prayers extend to your chemo-cise partner, and all others who find themselves in a similar space. Dinner at a Groningen pub of your choice – this week; on us. We are looking forward to being with you. Sharon & Glen

  5. I read your post with awe, sadness, some type of empathy (throwing stuff :O), and a host of other emotions I can’t express. Thank you for being so honest with all of us. Your ‘lessons’/reflections are remarkable… so, so true, and funny too! Happy Birthday.

  6. Happy Birthday Dear Lynnea!

    I noticed your birthday on my calendar, and the days slipped away from me. I hope you had a great day! I have had my own fears of dying (I fear my daughters growing up without a Mom) on the heels of my 30something birthday… Aging and dying is such a heavy thought isn’t it? But a good reminder to live life for each and every day, and to not take a moment, day or year for granted. I enjoyed reading your list of things you’ve learned. Especially this one, “I am stronger than I knew…”. I hope this continues to ring true for you throughout this next year of life and all the years God brings you!

    Sending you love,

  7. I love your list, and echo your thoughts. Try asking why not me? A friend of mine posed that question in discussion because so many of us women get BC. Your approach will see you through this no matter what! Celebrate each day divinely! I hope you had a great birthday and are feeling as good as you can right now. xo, your new Seattle BC buddy, Jen

    • I’ve had someone give me the same question…Why not me? For me neither is helpful because on some level it offers a comparison between my circumstances and what could be. I’ve chosen to just accept my reality and navigate my best path through it. Birthday was good, Thanks. x L 🙂

  8. Reblogged this on Burning Brightly and commented:

    This was a post I wrote last year for my birthday…in between chemo rounds 4 and 5. A lot of what I learned is still relevant for this year so here you go again. 🙂
    This birthday is hard…the hardest one yet…there isn’t a lot for me to say. I am so thankful for good friends in Groningen…but I am acutely aware of the people that are missing. I know there is hope and positive things on the horizon but I will give myself the space to be sad. In the midst of it I know God loves me so profoundly and feel like He has his arms wrapped tight around me. It’s comforting. A good cry, a deep breath and a glass of wine will be the plan for tonight. Happy Wednesday.

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