A soon-to-be birthday had me cringing with the anticipation of the date drawing closer. You see, I've now surpassed the hump of "older" and felt like I was about to crest the mountain and start the downhill descent. Always a person excited about birthdays, I had also never had an issue with getting "older," until recently...
Meet Mary! Inspiration to find an attitude adjustment and a change of perspective. Mary is a fellow June baby and had recently celebrated her birthday. Her story inspired me to re-evaluate my crappy perspective.
2006. At age 27, still a relative honeymooner, Mary was also a new mom. All the joys of being a young, new mother were overshadowed by some unusual health concerns.
Headaches. Pounding. Pulsating pain. Mary was in the Army working at a medical facility at the time she started having extreme headaches. She was four months pregnant and the headaches were continuing to become more severe. Throughout her pregnancy the headaches continued and became pulsating and more extreme. Since she was pregnant, there was not much the medical personnel could do at the time.
A beautiful baby girl, Ava was born! After eight weeks post partum she returned to work, and it had been about a year of dealing with extreme headaches. Finally, she was able to have a CT scan and followed up with an MRI. Although the headaches had been a continued issue, she was not prepared for the results of the scans. She felt the scans were more procedural and would not show anything out of the ordinary. A close friend in her medical profession revealed that a mass was found on her brain and more tests would be needed.
Say what?!!! Shocked! Dumbfounded with the news! What does this mean? Through further testing it was concluded that she had a Stage 4 cancerous tumor. She had two options: 1. take medication to reduce the size of tumor and manage it, or 2. surgery to remove it. Mary instantly thought she just wanted it out and wanted the surgeons to remove the tumor. She opted for the removal of the tumor as soon as possible!
Continued precautions. In addition to the surgery to remove the tumor from her brain, follow up treatment included six weeks of radiation, five days per week, then chemotherapy cycles. She also had been a candidate for an experimental drug therapy and continued on that course of medication.
Waiting. Uncovering unexpected and previously unannounced news. Once treatment had been concluded, Mary was awaiting her Army discharge papers. Upon receiving her papers, she saw that the prognosis for health was listed as one year to live.... A prognosis that her doctors never discussed with her! Not even 30 yet, a new mom, and she had one year to live?!!! A million thoughts went racing through her mind... One year??!!!
BAM!!! 2013. Mary has kicked cancer's ass! She was given a year to live and she is currently cancer free now just over six years later!! She still returns for regular MRIs and blood work, but even those have been pushed out now to every six months since all tests have come back clear.
Finding your inner strength and motivation. Superhero strength! Mary found strength in doing all that she could by being the best mom she could to her beautiful Ava! Cancer has given her a whole new perspective on life and the way she perceives the world and people around her. Throughout her chapter with cancer, she found out who her real friends and family were, and learned to not take life for granted. She continues to look brightly forward and appreciate what each day brings her. Currently, she is in school full time in anticipation of earning her bachelor's degree next spring. All while being a single mom with a whole appreciation for life!
Each birthday is a reminder to celebrate life! Not all get to enjoy the continued annual celebration. Mary, you inspire me! Your story is one I will not forget and will continue to reflect upon. I will not take life or birthdays for granted! Wisdom learned.