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51 Years Old

jencullen51years

I’m turning 51 today.

And I’m feeling kind of “meh” about it.

I know people are going to say, “Oh, you have so much to be thankful for. You’re cancer-free, done with most of your treatments, healing well, blah blah blah.” All of that is true but….

Fuck.

I had cancer. I spent almost a year of my life battling those stupid fucking over-expressed HER2 positive cells that tried to completely infiltrate my right breast and my body.

I fought it. And I fought it hard. Twenty weeks of chemo. A combination of five toxic drugs that did their job but that are still slowly making their way out of my body. Surgery. Thirty three radiation sessions. Steroids, sleeping pills, Miralax, Preparation H. Full body hair loss. My port is still in and I have five more months of Herceptin infusions.

Not to mention the feelings of fear, frustration, anger and pain. Sadness too.

I had a lot of help in my fight. A shit load of help. (Thank you, by the way.)

But it hasn’t been a great year. It started off great. I won’t bore you again with memories of my 50th birthday celebration in Las Vegas. Healthy, happy, Cloud Nine celebration. But my expectations of the coming year were so high.

I know bad things happen. Bad things happen all of the time. To really good people. People better than me.

Still, on a sliding scale of awfulness, if I add up all of the bad things that have happened to my family in the last 12 months, I would put the awfulness at the higher end of the scale. One of my worst years ever. No, make that plain and simple: my worst year ever.

(I’m not looking for sympathy. I’ve gotten plenty of beautiful sympathy this past year. I’m just stating my truth.)

But it’s time to move on. Or at least, it’s time to try to move on. And a birthday is a good time to do that.

So, yes, I’ll give the people what they want.

Here goes: I have a lot to be thankful for. I am cancer-free. I am relatively healthy. And feeling better every day. My family is healthy. I am surrounded by a lot of love and I have a lot of love to give back.

I’m still standing. Even taller than before. (Thanks to Pilates.) I don’t have hemorrhoids any more. I’m not constipated. I’m not nauseous. My hair is growing back and I like the way it looks. My right boob is deformed, my nipple points due left, but I kind of like it. I don’t have mouth sores. Vagifem is putting estrogen back in my atrophied vagina.

I am cancer-free.

This morning, I woke up to my 5:55 alarm and had messages from my kids. One at 12:15 last night from Will, who has two finals today, saying “Happy Birthday!” And a picture from Julia, at 11:05 last night, when I was already zonked out from a sleeping pill, smiling in her messy room wearing a pair of old school pajamas that I found in my closet last week.

Fifty-one is starting out nicely. But I’m on guard.

jencullen51birthday

Yes, that is my husband’s underwear hanging over the side of the tub. The hamper is right behind me. Just saying.

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