Yesterday my daughter turned 5 yrs old. She wanted a princess party and its was a pink and purple celebration with nail polish , tiaras and royal style. I am thankful to be here for another birthday. She was exactly two and half when I was diagnosed and now two and half years later, I was running around buying supplies for the party and that was my big worry beginning last week. It felt good to worry about little things. Little things about making less goodie bags than those needed, the cake not turning out good or kids not having fun. Much easier than thinking about “will I live to see another birthday?” The week leading up to her birthday was punctuated by several celebrity deaths with cancer, David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Rene Angelil and earlier that week, Holley Kitchen who had been a prominent advocate for stage 4 cancer passed on. She left little kids behind and she was roughly my age. It struck home, realization that it could all be over and a renewed appreciation of every day. Of course, it is also emotionally exhausting to see deaths with cancer and not feel the worry and the anxiety. It was a week of seeing death and planning celebration of life. A week of maintaining perspective, a reminder to live life each day, and a reinforcement that life is too short.
It was also the week of powerball and the billion dollar prize money but the realization that no amount of money can ever buy time for those whose days are numbered.
By the time, the birthday came , I had felt emotionally depleted. I struggled with exactly which misery from the big wide world belonged to me and which I needed to turn away from.
I felt overwhelmed and needed to find inspiration. Inspiration to be alive, despite the forces of negativity and sadness around me. However, being a mother to a five year old girl who is anxiously waiting to be the princess for a day, inspiration isn’t truly that far away.
She was focused about what she wanted. She was looking forward to life with open arms. She had picked out her outfit from the store, a pretty coral dress and with a matching hair band. I would not have picked it myself but I realized that this is the dress that made her happy. I let go.
She wanted a “Hello Kitty” cake even though it was a princess party. I struggled, “but every thing else is princess” I said. She, being the force that she is, did not budge. “I want a Hello Kitty Cake “.
I let go. “Fine, its your birthday, we can have a Hello Kitty Cake”.
She put together her goodie bags. I saw my little daughter had grown up. I felt sad that I missed so much of her life dealing with cancer. Half of her life I was well and second half, sick, tired and often missing.
Planning the party was a process of reclaiming my motherhood from the clutches of cancer. I fought for exactly this, my kids. I also realized that I have, what was taken from Holley and many other mothers who struggle each day from metastatic breast cancer or other life threatening illnesses.
Such is life.
Such is the life of a cancer survivor.
Such is life really. For all of us.