Today I turn 40!
It’s surreal and exciting and scary and doesn’t feel quite like the right fit (as most birthdays). Although there’s a little part of me that wouldn’t mind a lower number, I am not at all scared of turning 40 and, to be honest, I’m kinda proud of it.
I have, at least in part, Cancer to thank for that.
Eight years ago I had a malignant tumour growing in my small intestine. We only found out, because the mass was blocking off the blood supply to my appendix and so I had symptoms of appendicitis. I landed in emerge and into the hands of a very capable surgeon who removed the tumour and some large sections of the small and large intestine. Extensive research and several opinions later, I turned down the recommended chemotherapy regime and chose to embark on a journey to healing and thriving health.
Up until this cancer diagnosis, I had spent so much of my life being really hard on myself. I was obsessed with being better than I was; trying and trying to be something that I wasn’t. I struggled for over a decade with an eating disorder and negative body image and guilt and disappointment. So much of my life had been spent feeling lost and like I had never done enough, succeeded enough, or been enough. I was buried in a shame that prevented me from unveiling my true self and a blame that prevented me from seeing truth.
The biggest realization I’ve had since then was that when we give shame, blame, and negative self-talk more value than all the truth that makes us who we are, we are unable to focus on the things that matter the most.
So much of my life has changed since this Cancer diagnosis. I have returned to athleticism, returned to dancing and performing on stage, have finally learned to play the guitar and started writing music, have gone back to school, taken 3 different programs, started my own business, and grown exponentially as a person, a Mother, a wife.
I am not telling this story, however, to brag or boast about my greatness (hahaha). Believe me.
I am telling this story, because sharing truth helps others to recognize theirs.
I tell this story because I have embraced the notion that Cancer, for me, was a seriously huge gift.
So, Thank You Cancer!
Thank you for teaching me to believe in my true self.
Thank you for forcing me to choose health every day.
Thank you for giving me the courage to do things that I never thought I was good enough to do.
Thank you for granting me a voice.
Thank you for handing me an opportunity to heal at a level I may not have ever achieved without you.
Thank you for showing me how to forgive without barriers.
Thank you for enabling me to let go of blame.
Thank you for giving me permission to take all that shame and begin the lifelong process of peeling it away, one step at a time.
Thank you for teaching me that I have the power to take a really awful experience and turn it into something beautiful.
Thank you for asking me to be me, accepting of who I am: the ugly, the beautiful, the true me.
So many times I’ve been told that “I was lucky” because the tumour was found in time and removed before it had spread. I’m not sure I like the word “luck” here, because it has never felt like something that had anything to do with “luck”. I prefer to think of it as a gift. We are given many gifts in life, of all shapes and sizes, but it is what we do with this gift that really makes all the difference.
Cancer was my gift. And on my fortieth birthday, it feels like the best gift I’ve ever been given. It is the one gift that will give to me the entire rest of my life; and it is the gift that has inspired me to give and share all my gifts with you.
Thank you, Cancer.
I hope to never cross paths with you again. Ever!