I’m feeling a bit sentimental today, and as a result, this blog will be more personal than previous posts. Last week was my birthday, my 50th! Despite the milestone and the fact that a few weeks ago I started receiving mailings from AARP, I was excited about this birthday.

I have never been into big birthday celebrations, instead having a nice family dinner was more my speed. Beyond that, I always felt it was a normal day. Even this year, at some point on my birthday I had the same thought about birthday’s that I have always had: You wake up, someone says happy birthday, and then it’s like any other day. This year, though, I had the thought because what I did on my actual birthday was cleaning and buying groceries. But, the reason I was doing those things was because I threw myself a big party over the weekend. (It was SO fun!)

In the process of getting ready for my party I began reflecting on birthdays after cancer. Because I had delayed reconstruction, for me it took several years before I felt like I was done with recovery and ready to move forward. I think, too, many survivors have to let some time pass before they move from that fear of recurrence to celebrating the years clicking by. That’s what I did this weekend, though, celebrate! I invited friends and family, and even hired a musician. Celebrating age IS different after cancer. I’m happy I’m getting older, because, let’s face it, the alternative is not a good one. Every year I age is another year I have been blessed with my friends and family.

Now that I’m in the survivorship mind-set, I also think about the quality of the years ahead. Having a can-do attitude is a huge part of survivorship, and health for anyone. Getting your mind focused on your goals and beliefs is half the battle! I strive to eat healthy the majority of the time (yes, I did have cake for my birthday), and I exercise, but not as a punishment for the times that I didn’t eat healthy. Rather, fitness is a celebration of what my body can do. Although I am a work in progress with both my nutrition and fitness, I AM making changes and improving, because I believe I can and I want to do it in order to continue quality health for years to come!

While celebrating birthdays in the survivorship years is important, daily joy is equally important. Each of us may experience daily stress with work, relationships, or finances, but that’s all the more reason to incorporate joy into our days. Maybe it’s a short, funny video, or reading, or a conversation with a friend. Whatever activity brings you joy and reduces stress, for even a short time, will in turn benefit your health.

Here’s to joy…in the small moments, and the big ones! Whether you have experienced cancer or not, I hope you, too, celebrate each day and each year that you have been given by choosing to incorporate healthy actions.

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