To be honest, I have never really gotten too excited about my birthday. To begin with, I just don’t like the attention and often try to keep a low profile on that day. I have been a long-time fan of “The Big Bang Theory” and amusingly recall an episode from Season One in which Leonard explains to Penny that he never had a birthday party because his mother believed in celebrating achievements, and “being expelled through a birth canal” wasn’t one! I can’t say I totally disagree! 😊 And, honestly, similar to occasions like National Cancer Survivors Day, it is certainly a day worth acknowledging... but so is every other day of the year!
Don’t get me wrong... I typically try to commemorate the day in my own way... usually some physical activity (running, paddling, hiking, rowing, backpacking), usually by myself for a chance to reflect on the days and years of the past and of the future! This year I had planned disc golfing 58 holes (since I was turning 58)! But, Mother Nature didn’t cooperate. So, as it rained outside I spent 58 minutes on the Concept2 bike ergometer pedaling towards the completion of the ST&BF CUMULATIVE 100-mile Bike Ride!
I did go disc golfing the next day though, after which I tried out the birthday gift I bought myself – a couple of Prism Synapse foil kites (140 & 170)! But that’s a whole other story! Suffice it to say, it was so much fun that I was literally “high as a kite” when I got done! In case you are wondering... here is a video of the kites that I am currently enamored with: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xRWEdZBBts
Anyway, following that kite-flying session on Sunday morning, I stopped in at the clinic to work on a few things and I was delighted when I entered my office and was greeted by a bunch of “survivor-blue” balloons and a wonderful gift display that was put together by a group of our Survive, Thrive & Be Fit survivor-athletes!
As you can see... in addition to the balloons (which I discovered were filled with their own surprises) was a basket of candy and a display board with a missing word puzzle. I was in a bit of a rush, but couldn’t resist at least an attempt at figuring out the puzzle. One part of the puzzle read, “... you are the only ________ Shel (my wife) will ever love.” I had noticed a box of “Goobers” in the basket of candy... so it was evident to me that the answers to the puzzle related to the basket of candy! How creative... and fun!
It wasn’t until a couple days later that I had the time to really enjoy the totality of the gift! Eventually the balloons deflated and sank to the ground... but I was advised, “Don’t throw the balloons away without popping them... they contain many surprises.” Inside each confetti-filled balloon there was a note or two from one of the survivor-athlete “culprits” as well as some cash! After I popped all of the balloons I was pretty confident that I found all of the notes and cash because it came to $58, and as I said, I had just turned 58! It is a gift that I will pay forward and donate to SCCCF! The cash that is... not the candy! 😊
Next I tried to solve the puzzle. As I took a closer look at the basket of candy I found a photo book titled “Life is Good” that included many photos of the involved survivor-athletes, both current and from many of our past ST&BF activities! I certainly appreciated the entirety of this wonderful gift... but it was this photo book that probably had the greatest impact on me. 2020 has been a tough year... for all of us! Admittedly, I have been struggling with the many changes to our program events and activities due to COVID-19! There is a level of frustration, and even a bit of guilt, that I am not able to offer the same level of activities as in previous years. But these photos, which reminded me of some of past activities also assured me that, despite the challenges of COVID-19, this resilient group of survivors will continue their efforts to “Survive, Thrive & Be Fit” and, even when apart, and they will be there for one another as “Together we Live with Cancer!”
Eventually, I worked out the puzzle. Some of the answers were obvious. For example, “Your joints may start to _____ and _____ or even worse... sound like _____” was obviously “Your joints may start to CRACKLE and KRUNCH or even worse... sound like POP ROCKS.” But then it continued, “... or even worse, your ____ won’t work like it used to...” I thought I knew the correct answer (based on the content of the candy basket) but I thought I’d try to fill in all of the other blanks first. And, when I did, I was right: “... or even worse, your WHATCHAMACALLIT won’t work like it used to...” 😊
Here is the final puzzle:
It wasn’t (Payday) so we didn’t have (100 Grand) to send you to New (York) to see how David Bowie lived or the (Milky Way) where he is surely the brightest (Starburst). But there are still plenty of (Reese’s) to celebrate your birthday.
We know Laurel & Hardy can make you (Laffy Taffy) yourself “cents”less but we can bet a pretty (PENNY inserted) that in “Five Years” you will still have your BCTC buddies and all of us to get you out hiking, disc golfing and kayaking in the great outdoors... whether you are at the CF&G or on the Ice Age Trail somewhere you will likely be the biggest (Nerd) around! And now that we know she is real we are sure you are the only (Goober) Shel will ever love!
While “Zoom” no longer means you are running as fast as you did in your youth... Getting older is nothing to (Snicker) at! This is when you realize you have (Butterfingers) your mind will play (Twix) on you, your joints may start to (Krackle) and (Crunch)... or even worse, sound like (Poprocks), your (Whatchamacallit) won’t work like it used to, you will start popping pills like (TicTacs), you will find yourself making a (Fastbreak) and you have (Zero) energy so (Take Five) and have (Mounds) of fun shooting off rockets, trying not to Farkle, racing around the cribbage board! And hey... at least your not (64) yet!
A (Smartie) like you deserves some extra attention on your birthday! So while your life might seem to be in flux right now, don’t let it get you blue! Just remember you’re a SURVIVOR! And a Beacon of Hope to many! We really (Skor)’d when we got you for a coach! Have a super awesome day! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Over the next couple days I spoke with several of the survivor-athlete “culprits” that were a part of this delightful gift and meaningful gesture and several of them kindly remarked that they could sense that COVID-19’s impact on events and activities of our Local Cancer Community has been difficult for me... so they wanted to do something nice for me! What wonderfully empathetic folks these are!!! But none of this surprises me! I’ve both experienced and witnessed time and time again the many times that this group has rallied to support, encourage, help and show some love to one another... as well as total strangers!
So... thank you to all of those who were a part of this delightful gesture: Jennifer, Bob, Maryellen, Linda, Candy, Sharon, Chris, Bev, Cindy, Deb, Barb, Lenny... and anyone else who may have been involved... but didn’t write a note!
Thank you to everyone everywhere who offers similar gestures of love and kindness to one another!
For those area cancer patients and survivors who may be looking for more of these kind of people in your life... well... it’s easy... just join us!
Granted, the opportunities are somewhat limited as we continue to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. But there are still plenty of safe and enjoyable opportunities to connect either outdoors and in person or VIRTUALLY! I really look forward to the time that we can once again come together without the fear or threat of this pandemic. In the meantime... we can still enjoy one another’s kindnesses and considerations. And, when the time comes that we can once again come together safely (even with continued precautions and modifications)... it will truly be a “super awesome day!” That is what I wish for this year!!!