10/10/2015: the day I turned 44. Pretty amazing I think… for me, celebrating another birthday is pretty amazing!
In the morning of my 44th birthday I look at the mirror and see a few changes: my unmanageable hair has more grays than I can count (thank God for hair color and balayages and whatever new thing my stylist does to hide them!); I notice a few more wrinkles although not too bad for my age; the stubborn age spots that won’t go away courtesy of many years of sunbathing at Playa Azul; oh, and of course, the extra pounds… Yes, I have changed a lot in 44 years, but looking at the mirror I notice something else, the happiness that radiates from my face. Yes, I am in fact happy, and today, I am happy to be alive and I am grateful, so, so grateful!
I find birthdays are a great opportunity for reflection; this is not something I did when I was younger but after you are told “you have cancer” birthdays take a whole new meaning. Cancer almost killed me at 27, I was literally told to decide if I wanted to be resuscitated or not because my condition was not improving. Most people don’t realize that, when you have cancer, you end up fighting a few different battles all at once; there’s the cancer (those bad cells multiplying like crazy trying to make your body their home), then there is the side effects of the treatments (the constant puking, the incredible weakness, the insomnia, the constant bathroom tours because the radiation pretty much messes up all the areas around the cervix); and then there are the complications that come with the illness (the infections, blood clots, anemia, etc.) Fighting cancer is not an easy fight, there are too many things to do and watch for, but it is a fight that you put all your effort into just for a chance to live one more day.
Anyone who attended Cervivor School West last weekend will probably tell you that it changed their life. Words really cannot express the bonding that occurred. Most that attended likely left with new best friends for life.
We’ve all had different experiences, but loss is universal. If you weren’t able to attend Cervivor School in San Diego, we hope to see you around the country or around the globe in the near future.
We know we’ve been posting the Cervivor School West recap video like crazy, but it truly captures the feeling of the weekend. You can also find a photo gallery on Facebook and more videos of our speakers on Instagram.