Last night I wrote the following tweet, which got more attention than I thought it would:
Birthday in a few weeks! Don’t think people realize how important my 30th is to me as a cancer survivor. It is a landmark I will feel privileged to reach. If anyone did already realise that, I would declare them my bff right now; that would be impressive. Blog to follow tomorrow.
Hey, I don’t have a huge following – twenty likes on one tweet for me is pretty big. Anyway, I promised in the tweet that I would write a blog post today to talk abut this a bit more, so here we go.
It’s my birthday on 10th December, and I wanted to make it special because it’s my 30th. I started out wanting a big event where all my friends and family would turn up, have some food, get drunk, maybe some music or something, I don’t know. But my social circle isn’t really that big and I wouldn’t want to invite aquaintances just for the sake of it. I was stuck between hiring a venue too big for my needs or booking a table at a restaurant, which is pretty much what I do every year, anyway. I wanted this year to be special. Plus, not everyone is free on the same day, and it’s all just super complicated and frustrating. So I’ve been umming and ahhing and getting a bit frustrated about the whole thing. And last night I realised why it’s so important.
Now, I like to self-analyse, but sometimes it takes me a while to see the obvious. The reason my 30th birthday is important to me isn’t because I want to feel special and be the centre of attention (though I would like to feel a bit special), but beause it’s such a big deal. I had major surgery when I was 22 to get rid of colon cancer, and without my consultant and the NHS and everything, I could well have been dead by now. And life as a cancer survivor hasn’t been easy – being poked and prodded every year to make sure it hasn’t come back, the fear of recurrence that brings – don’t even get me started on the emotional trauma. So being alive, for me, is a big deal. I know lots of people love their birthdays and have big celebrations and consider them important, and I am one of those people – but I do think that being a cancer survivor has made me feel this even more strongly, or in a different way to how I previously did. I consider it an honour to continue to have birthdays, and when I am old and retired I will consider it a privilege to have survived that long. I hope I make it that far.
So the fact that sometimes it feels like people aren’t as enthusiastic as me about celebrating my birthday, can be frustrating. But they don’t know, I’m sure – because I haven’t explained, because I’m only just sort of realising. If anyone realised already before I did, then I would be surprised and as I tweeted, anyone who has that much consideration and insight into the inner workings of my brain would be pretty impressive. Those are the kind of people to hold onto.
Plus the fact that I have now outlived my brother by a long way, maybe I want to celebrate for the both of us somehow. And when there’s so much to worry about in the world, it’s good to be able to celebrate something. I want to celebrate. So my plan is to go to London for two nights with my boyfriend, and then have some kind of meal with my family. That’s the weekend, with my birthday on the Sunday, and I have the Monday off work so I will go and get my hair cut, maybe do some Christmas shopping, have a “me” day. I am happy to have come this far, and I hope I reach many more milestones in the future.