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Staring Down Cancer

Celebrating birthdays

Birthday Candles

Here's an interesting topic of conversation for those who are living with cancer. . .specifically, metastatic or the cruelly termed incurable cancer: birthdays.

Mine is next Thursday. I never really liked my own birthday, although I love celebrating everyone else's.  I think it mainly stems from being a shy child.  Attention that is focused directly toward my face, in close quarters, makes me highly anxious.

But as we get older, we just do it, because everyone else does it: cake, candles and presents. I still do not like getting presents, but I love finding the perfect gift for my children, family and friends.

I am going to be 59 years old. I was with my special group of girlfriends just before Thanksgiving – we always do something meaningful together for birthdays that end in a 5 or a 0.  We had a big party in October for Carol's 60th, and Celeste suggested we ought to celebrate my 60th this December.  

Talk about things not to say to a cancer patient!  

"Why?" I asked.  She nonchalantly replied, "No reason.  Just thought it would be fun."

Of course, I immediately think she knows something I don't know – like I might not last the year.  Maybe my doctor told my husband that, and then he went to my girlfriends and told them to throw me a surprise party?   

Cancer makes you paranoid (what an understatement!). 

It's been so busy with Thanksgiving, that I haven't talked with her again, but I am going to call and get to the bottom of this.

Next December I will turn 60 and my son will turn 21. Maybe we can have a big bash with his friends and mine? Not!  It will be great to see his face when I suggest it, though.

At any rate, birthdays stink and only serve as a reminder of our mortality, and the fact that my last year was spent not feeling so great.  But, I guess I would rather have a birthday than not have one, because that means I am still here enjoying my family, children and friends.

I'd love to know if anyone feels the way I feel about birthdays. Any ideas on how to deal with them?

Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is the Founder and CEO of the Noreen Fraser Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to funding groundbreaking women's cancer research. To stay in touch with Noreen, please 'LIKE' The Noreen Fraser Foundation on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.  Noreen can be contacted via email at noreen@noreenfraserfoundation.org.