by | May 9, 2023 | Musings

I remember writing last year on this day that I was officially mid-way through my fifties, given that I was 55.  I also wrote about how I’d be spending the entire year on chemo.

While I was indeed on chemo for my entire 55th year on earth and I still have two more cycles to go, the year was not as dismal as I thought it would be.  It wasn’t what I’d call easy, but it wasn’t awful either.

The one thing I did think about is this; In turning 56, I’m closer to 60 than I am to 50.  Initially, my stomach dropped and I cringed a bit at the sound of 60. However, I quickly realized the alternative to not growing older is death.  I’m just not open to that option at this time, so I will happily take aging!

In my end of the year 2022 post I mentioned that I break down my year into essentially three new years

1st the liturgical year;  First day of advent – this year I vowed I would not miss even one Sunday mass and I haven’t

2nd the secular new year on Jan. 1;  I make a list of things I WANT to do/learn/master vs. resolutions

3rd my birthday year;  This past year has been all about treatment and survival.  Year 56 will be my year of recovery and build back.


I touched on this a little in my last post.  And I really go into it in my post I plan to write when I complete my May chemo cycle.  But essentially, it’s this;  Finishing treatment for cancer is a little unsettling.  Because one is so focused on getting through the treatment, everything else sort of falls away.  As my friend Jodi says in the midst of diagnosis and treatment plans, you, “put down your head, put on the blinders and beat the disease”.  However, once that battle is done, your routine changes.  Gone are the weekly labs, the monthly check -in with your oncologist.  Sure, you have your periodic follow up labs and tests, but your life no longer revolves around fighting cancer and surviving.  Now the task is to figure out how to set up a new routine.  A routine of getting back to the business of life.  I’ve alluded to this and what my now favorite author, Suleika Jaouad says in one of my favorite books “Between Two Kingdoms” She writes,”Recovery isn’t a gentle self-care spree that restores you to a pre-illness state. Though the word may suggest otherwise, recovery is not about salvaging the old at all. It’s about accepting that you must forsake a familiar self forever, in favor of one that is being newly born. It’s an act of brute, terrifying discovery.”

For me, this isn’t terrifying, it’s exciting! Just like having my Lisa Rinna hair now, I have no issues envisioning Julie 2.0.  While I wouldn’t describe myself as uber adventurous, I do enjoy learning and the process of self discovery as well as self improvement.  So I’m hoping to make this next year of life a great one by continuing to heal physically, emotionally and mentally.

As I wrap up this post I need to acknowledge something.  I have been writing my posts lately ahead of time and transferring them over to CaringBridge.  I find this to be much easier than sitting down and trying to write one big post. That being said and in the spirit of full transparency, I have been in a completely different and awful headspace the last two days.  I have actually been dreading my birthday and mother’s day.  I lacked all desire to celebrate anything at all and I could not figure out why or what was wrong with me.  I’ve traditionally LOVED celebrating my birthday and as everyone around me keeps reminding me, I’m almost done with treatment and if anything I should really celebrate this birthday in particular.  Then I remembered that even though I only have 2 chemo cycles left, I don’t have the luxury of saying at the end “ YAY!! I’M CURED!!” I will never be fully cured from this.  So that’s a bit of a celebratory balloon deflater.  And though I don’t really dwell on this, I think subconsciously it sometimes creeps in.  Then, as I was finishing up “Between two Kingdoms” for the third time, I came across the following the quote that I highlighted.

“I used to think healing meant ridding the body and the heart of anything that hurt. It meant putting your pain behind you, leaving it in the past. But I’m learning that’s not how it works. Healing is figuring out how to co-exist with the pain that will always live inside of you, without pretending it isn’t there or allowing it to hijack your day. It is learning to confront ghosts and to carry what lingers. It is learning to embrace the people I love now instead of protecting against a future in which I am gutted by their loss.”  Suleika then goes on to quote the mother of a friend she lost to cancer.  The mother says “You have to shift from gloom and doom and focus instead on what you love. That’s all you can do in the face of these things.  Love the people around you. Love the life you have. I can’t think of a more powerful response to life’s sorrows than loving.”

On that note, THANK YOU to everyone who’s already called, and texted your birthday wishes and for following me on this awful yet revealing journey.  I truly do love all of you!


Until next time…….

About Me

In February 2022, I was diagnosed with brain cancer and it changed my whole life perspective. This blog is dedicated to my Journey through cancer diagnosis, recovery, and finding the humor in life.