Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Living Past My Expiration Date

When I was 31 years old, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was told I most likely would not have a long life span, and on that day, I didn't think I'd live to see my 35th birthday, which is today.

So, happy birthday to me. I'm still here. :)

Luckily, unlike the spoiled milk in your 'fridge and other sundries (oh, don't pretend you don't have some suspect expiration dates on things in your kitchen)...something happens to the human spirit when they stay alive pass their "expiration date" on this earth....WE LEARN HOW TO LIVE.

Every day since the day I was first diagnosed with cancer, I've learned a big lesson in living in the present. It was a 180 degree turn-around. I've learned to enjoy and live each day as it's my last one here on earth. I mean, after all, there is a 100% chance that living will kill a person. *smile* That's not to say I don't plan for the future. You know, I put money away for retirement, put money down on vacations, save up funds to take my niece for her first tatoo someday (ha ha, just kidding, sis!)...

The day I was told that I might not have long to live...was the same day that I made a choice that I would truly start living. (Oh, the irony.) And every year my birthday rolls around, I like to remind myself of this again.

This isn't something that pushes me to live out death-defying activities (I mean, seriously? I just escaped death with cancer? Why would I actually choose to jump out of a perfectly good airplane??!!...j/k), but it does mean I live with death as an advisor. (yes, you read that right.) I live as if today might be my last because I know that nothing is certain. I know how easy it is to be running on the beach one moment, and in the hospital diagnosed with leukemia another moment --- all in the same week. I know today might be "it," and knowing that changes everything.

Don't believe me? Try it. Try treating everyone around you and your life as if it were your last day on the planet. (Seriously, is it worth yelling at the old lady in the car ahead of you that's drivig too slow? Really?!)

During this past weekend at the Boston Marathon, I was telling another cancer warrior during the run that I feel in a way that I'm living past my "expiration date." I've battled cancer multiple times and somehow, I'm still here. The way I look at it, the time I'm on this planet is no longer my own. It's why I try to help other charities, fundraise every day I can, work on my Cures Rock! advocacy campaign to change the stigma of cancer, and run with so many of you.

The best birthday present all of you can give me? Live today as if it's your last. Hug your family, laugh your bootie off, and hand a few dollars to a homeless person. And, watch the sunset tonight or go for a run at sunset --- all without thinking about what you're doing later tonight or later this week or next year. For once, just watch the sunset. Feel the wind on your cheek, the warmth of the star, and be happy. And then, when you wake up tomorrow it all over again. Rinse and repeat.

So, happy birthday to me. (And, to my twin that shares this day with me.) May we all live it to the fullest, happiest and brightest --- as if it's our last --- and may our lives be just a little bit better because of it.
Pic: Jenny, Dad, me & Angie (both on donkey) up in Northern California as kids.


  1. What a great post, Julie! Carpe Diem! And a huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY with many happy returns. None of us know on what day we will draw our last breath, but we do know that this day is closer today than it was yesterday. So to the extent possible, we do need to seize the day. But if this really was my last day, I wouldn't go to work, so I can't do that every day...

  2. Thanks, Art, for your comment and birthday wishes! I know you know this feeling all too well too!

  3. The world is a more beautiful place since you made your grand entrance and i was there to witness it!! Love your Mama


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