Wednesday, August 1, 2012

With age comes wisdom (and wrinkles if you forget your sunscreen)

Celebrating my birthday a few years ago.
As of 12 a.m. this morning, I am 26 years old. How did that happen? It feels like five minutes ago I was sipping my first legal beer. Birthdays have always been a huge stressor for me: Another milestone, another opportunity to over-analyze my life and criticize myself for not doing more. Because I still struggle with this feeling a little bit, I've decided to give myself (and you, my lovely readers!) the gift of motivation to live each day like it really counts. Yesterday, I contacted a few of my "mole mates" (a.k.a. my melanoma buddies) to ask if being diagnosed with cancer has changed the way they think about birthdays. The result? Poignant, useful advice that's worth a read whether your life has been touched by melanoma or not. Thank you to everyone for sharing!

How has melanoma changed the way you think about birthdays?


"I'm one of these that loves to celebrate every birthday, small and simply, but celebrate nonetheless. Until melanoma I celebrated on the day (Sept 3rd) and on my half birthday (yes, I celebrate March 3rd, too). NOW, everyday is my birthday. I just don't add a year to my age with each passing day though. I've become cognizant that I really am not guaranteed to see another Sept 3rd, so I relish each one I do see, but more than that, I've come to appreciate each new day like I never did BC. And every day is a new gift to be opened and enjoyed. So, I have lots of birthdays and lots of presents. Even on those days when they aren't the "best of days." I know a new day is coming. Melanoma changed my attitudes about a lot of things!" -Rev. Carol Taylor, Stage IIIb melanoma survivor from Attitude of Gratitude

"In August 2003, shortly after I turned 50, I was told I wouldn't see Christmas. Every subsequent birthday has been a gift. I turned 59 last month, and have every intention of becoming a Social Security and Medicare on the next generation. I've paid for the Social Security and Medicare benefits of the WW II generation. Now it's YOUR turn!" -Rich McDonald, Stage IIIc melanoma survivor from Welcome to The Hotel Melanoma

"Cancer has changed everything. At first my goals were 3 months at a time (of course I was told I had 6-12 months to live and I was told on my 50th birthday so it's even more special). Every birthday of my kids, and family was such a gift. Making it to my 51st was incredible, you appreciate everyday. There's a saying, "I look forward to getting old, so many of my friends did not have this opportunity," and its so true. I know how very blessed I am to be here. Really everyday is my birthday." -Mark Williams, Stage IV melanoma survivor

"Cancer has CERTAINLY change the way I feel about birthdays. I relish every one of them!!! I guess I've felt that way for a while because my brother died at 49 so I've had perspective since I was 34 but after cancer is totally different! Every birthday is a gift from GOD. I feel that way with not only my birthday but with my kids birthdays. They were on 12 and 14 when I was diagnosed so each birthday they reach is a huge achievement. I need to be here for them so every birthday they have is one more year I was blessed to be in their lives!!!!" -Diane Melius, melanoma survivor

"Cancer has definitely changed the way I view birthdays. I used to have a love/hate relationship with my birthday after my 18th. I felt like I wasn't where I needed to be at that particular moment. I was scared of becoming 'old' because I felt like life was rushing by! How was I really turning 23 when I wasn't engaged and entering the career I always wanted? Then I got that diagnosis and thought, 'I may not live to blow 30 candles off my cake.' Fear. That's what I felt in those moments (and still today!). I can't tell you how many people joke with me, 'Getting old is no fun!' or 'Don't get old!' Now, I politely smile and say, 'It's better than the alternative.' So many people do not have the privilege to grow older. I consider it a blessing. Truly." -Chelsea Price, Stage III melanoma survivor from Adventures With My Enemy... Melanoma

"I've always loved birthdays and have never dreaded getting a year older. I was happy to turn 30- I was married and pregnant with my first child, so life was great! My 33 birthday, however, was a blur. I had been diagnosed with Melanoma 3 months earlier and was living in a fog. I couldn't think about the future because I was not sure I would be in it. Thankfully, by my 34 birthday was much different. I had a new appreciation for the year that had passed and looked forward to the year ahead. I was once again planning for a future and living each day more joyfully because I knew it was a blessing. So, to sum it up, while I have always loved birthdays, I now treasure each one. Another year older? Heck yeah!!" -Anne Stokes Bowman, Stage Ib melanoma survivor

Do you have something to add? Share your story below.


  1. Happiest Birthday!! I hope it's one of the best! :)

    Thanks for sharing this with us- so special & an amazing, amazing reminder.
    Eat Cake

  2. Happy, happy, happy birthday! Here's to MANY more!

  3. Happy Birthday! What inspiring words! Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Happy Birthday Katie,
    An amazing and inspiring post.
    May there be many, many more filled with happiness.

  5. Happy Belated Birthday. I hope the day was all you wished for and more.

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