I’ve loved birthdays since I was a small child. The day always seemed special, as if adding another official year to my calendar changed the entire course of the universe. I never once lied about my age because to deny my experience is to deny my life. The only time I skipped the party was 1998, when I was diagnosed with cancer two days prior.
Because of my current compromised immune system, I’m not supposed to eat fresh fruit or vegetables unless they’re cooked or peeled. Even a small amount of bad bacteria can make me very sick. However, I get a bit of a reprieve the last five days of my chemo cycle before the next infusion. Salad! Strawberries! Fresh salsa! And restaurants, which for the first sixteen days of my cycle are considered high risk.
This year, my birthday falls within those five safe-ish days. I can eat out and celebrate — as much as one can celebrate in the middle of chemo.
I’m 66 today, I have cancer — and dammit, I don’t plan on leaving this earthly plane anytime soon.
May as bring out the balloons and party hats.