Happy Birthday (9/20/17)

Happy Birthday!

As my 34th birthday approaches this Friday, September 22, I stop and think about how “birthdays” have changed for me. In literal terms, I have survived another revolution around the sun. It doesn’t matter how I measure a year in my life, as long as I have lived life to its fullest ability.

Each year I like to take time to reflect back on what I have learned and how I have grown and developed. As a child it was always easier to look back on a year and note some major milestones; loss of a tooth, learn how to ride a two wheel bike, read first chapter book, etc. As I grew older I have looked at birthdays as “just another day”. I remember one of my teenage family birthday celebrations, it was one of those years when your family decides that you are too old for friend parties, and that toys are no longer appropriate as gifts. I had a nice stack of birthday cards and one present to open. I opened all the cards and thanked everyone for the cash and cards. Then, with excitement, I started to open the present. With the present was a beautiful card signed by my Aunt Laurie, Uncle Dave and cousins Stephanie and Jarrett. Stephanie, at the time, was probably around five years old, and before I even started to rip the wrapping paper off the box, she exclaimed to me “It’s just a couple of yucky tee shirts”. We all had a good chuckle out of the perspective of a five year old, but what Stephanie didn’t realize at the time was that new clothes to a teenager was much more exciting than what it appeared.

What I have learned through the years and through this “yucky tee shirt” experience was that sometimes what may seem as something insignificant can be something much more meaningful. Looking back at this past year, I have to force myself not to measure the year in terms of just medical status reports but rather to look outside of the box and remember all of the positive accomplishments I have achieved. The most prominent moment that stands out to me is completing triathlon distances (Olympic and Half Ironman 70.3) that felt so out of reach just a year ago. I think back and realize how lucky I am to have spent quality time with family on vacations to Disney World and celebrating holidays. I hold dearly the time spent with friends, from Taco Tuesday, to crafting, dining out and walking. Sometimes it’s the little things in life that mean the most.

After taking this moment to reflect back on the last year, I quickly change focus and look to the future. Someone once told me that you should never look back. It is good advice but yet it is also important to take time to remember the positive that has happened to be able to grow in a forward direction. When I have days that seem like cancer takes up all the space in my head, I look back on these joyful moments in my life. For my 34th year, I look forward to spending more time with friends and family and, of course, spending time training for triathlons. The worry crosses my mind that this could be my last birthday, or that after this triathlon season I may never do another race; but then I turn these negative thoughts into positive thoughts. I could have 50 more birthdays in my lifetime. They could find a cure tomorrow for my cancer, and I could continue to persevere through the aches and pains and complete a full Ironman 140.6. Tomorrow is never promised, so for today I will continue to dream. Dreams do come true thanks to all the support from people like you, who donate to the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation. With your help, my birthday wish to find a cure for breast cancer could be discovered within the next research grant funded by TBBCF.

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