Today, we’re sharing a series called Birthday Celebrations. As survivors, birthdays are more than just a day. They are a time of reflection and gratitude that many feel lucky to have the opportunity to celebrate.
Today, we celebrate the 30th birthday of Chloe, VivorCare employee and Hodgkin lymphoma survivor. Chloe wrote the piece below on her thoughts and feelings around aging, and what birthdays mean to her.
Today is my 30th birthday. For many people my age, birthdays are a thing of dread. The amount of friends and relatives I’ve heard complain about birthdays or aging is immeasurable. They say things like “oh, I can’t believe how old we are!” or “ugh, I cannot believe I’m 30. My life is over.” While aging does of course get you ever so slightly closer to the end of life, for me, aging is something that I consider to be a privilege and a chance to live to the fullest.
At the time of my cancer diagnosis, I was 25 years old. I remember feeling helpless on my 26th birthday, which was two days after a chemotherapy session. Will I ever make it to 30? Will I be able to celebrate future birthdays? The thought of having to change insurance for my next appointment caused so much stress, I remember thinking “Wow, I wish I had been diagnosed younger so this insurance headache wouldn’t have existed. This is the worst birthday gift ever."
Every year since finishing treatment, I have felt so lucky to be getting older. Sure my knees are hurting more, I get tired earlier, and I’m not training for marathons like I was at 24, but I feel grateful to have the chance to live life each day. While it sounds cliche, it really is the truth. My diagnosis turned my entire life upside down in a matter of minutes. In my life now, I really try to appreciate the little moments, however small and insignificant they are, because life is lived in those mundane, everyday moments.
This past year, I lost a very good friend to cancer after her six year battle with cancer. One of the things I’ve reflected on since then is the conversations that we’d had about how we believe aging is a gift. Those who haven’t experienced something like cancer might be less likely to appreciate aging, but every year I get older, I think of my friend Kelsey and the conversations we had about gratitude and the preciousness of life.
As I reflect on all the things I have done since my diagnosis and treatment completed, I have had some of the best, most fulfilling, and challenging times. I survived a global pandemic, went years without seeing loved ones, got engaged, got married, started new professional endeavors, traveled, and when I think about all the things ahead, I feel so grateful.
Looking to the future, I want to continue to appreciate the little moments, maintain the friendships and relationships that fuel my soul, spark imagination and creativity, and be the best possible version of myself. While 30 might seem scary or significant to some, to me, I’m so excited to be 30 and to have made it this far in life. Here’s to 30 more healthy, happy, and wonderful years ahead.