Celebrating the big 5-0 and life in a big way

Our message to you from Puerto Rico

Our message to you from Puerto Rico

My friend Vanessa, who at the tender young age of 31, is living life to the fullest and spreading the message of hope with her Live Sincerely Project, despite being in hospice for stage IV breast cancer that has metastatized to her brain. She is an inspiration to many people and was on my mind as our family enjoyed a dream vacation a couple of weeks ago to Puerto Rico.

You see, I turn 50 in a few weeks and decided I wanted to celebrate it in a big way with the two people I love most — my 14-year-old daughter, Chrissy, and husband Mike. Turning a half century is a notable milestone for most people, but for me and others facing the same diagnosis, it is nothing short of a miracle. When I was diagnosed in Feb. 2008, I had a 15 percent chance of making it five years. What better reason to do it up big?

I’ve been talking about turning 50 like a little kid. I’m 49 1/2, I’d think. Now I can say I’m almost 50. I’m thrilled to turn the half century mark. I know so many young women with breast cancer who didn’t get that privilege. Vanessa, sadly, won’t even make it to 40. Part of Vanessa’s Live Sincerely Pledge reads:

I commit to living each chapter of my story: honoring the lessons and gifts of my past, fully participating in the fleeting beauty of the present, and bravely walking towards the unknowns of my future.

Knowing that life is an enduring but glorious struggle, I pledge to live each day with purpose.

Experiencing the breath-taking waterfalls of the rainforest, walking pristine beaches, snorkeling and exploring the wonders under the sea … I was participating fully in the fleeting beauty of the present. It was a wonderful escape, but now that I’m home, I find myself walking towards the unknowns of the future, as well as bearing witness to those unknowns my stage IV friends face.

Still I have so many opportunities to live each day with purpose, whether it’s preparing a belated seder meal for my family or preparing for my next book. Before I left, I received exciting news that I will be one of the speakers at The Million Cancer Survivors March planned for June 2, 2014, at the nation’s capital. I decided I want to do more advocacy, so I can voice our need to put an end to this disease forever. I invite you to mark your calendars and plan on joining us.

Until then, I encourage you to live sincerely every day, making the most out of your gift, we call the present.



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