As I celebrate my 50th birthday today, I want to offer some brief reflections on hitting the half-century mark.
Most importantly, I must express gratitude for surviving this long. Since 1984 I have endured four surgeries to remove a craniopharyngioma (pituitary tumor) and its remnants, as well as managing the hypopituitarism that followed. In subsequent years, the diseases of osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis have been added to my medical history. But my diminishing health has taught me some important lessons. Here they are:
- If not this, it would be something else. Yes, I have some challenges, but I have not been given a stage four cancer diagnosis, and I do not suffer another fatal illness. And for that I am thankful.
- I must accept the limitations imposed on me by these diseases, keeping the attitude of always trying to do my best and reevaluating my goals and what I am able to accomplish.
- The importance of cultivating an attitude of gratitude. I am thankful for my family, friends and full-time employment status, but I also continually remind myself to be grateful for the things we often take for granted. For me these are: standing upright, breathing normally, having brain function (although somewhat impaired at times), having five working senses and working limbs.
So there’s only one more thought on turning 50: I don’t know how many more years I have left on this planet, but I will try to make each day memorable, not in achievement but in the ways I connect with others, spread compassion and leave a positive impact wherever I tread.