Diana H. asked, “Hey Karen can you share your thoughts on the terms embrace and inspire?” I said sure. It’s my hope that my brief, but spectacular, piece will inspire people to embrace the inevitable.

Aging with acceptance

I’m the youngest of three girls born to working class parents, from a working class town. I paid my way through college, and graduated debt free. I’ve had interesting work related experiences. I’ve made decent money. I’ve had deep meaningful, intimate relationships with strong men, but have never married. I’ve lived past the half century mark in age, and… I’ve had cancer.

Oh… that scary word: cancer. Actually, that word has been a big part of my life.

My first dance with cancer came at age nineteen, as a sophomore in college. That encounter left me with a nine-inch vertical scar down my abdomen. My second encounter was with my father, who valiantly lived much longer than the professionals predicted. He passed away when I was twenty-six years old. And my third embrace came when I was diagnosed with life threatening, cervical cancer at age forty-four. From that I gained another scar, a seven-inch beauty running horizontally along my lower abdomen.

You may have missed what I wrote, “third embrace with cancer”

I use that term because I never ran from cancer, I embraced it. I never doubted that I wouldn’t live through my encounters. I lost more sleep over my father’s illness than my own.

Why?  I could control my own response to the crisis, I was rock-solid centered, and confident. I asked tough questions and armed myself with the knowledge of my choices in moving forward. I forced my doctors to treat me as a person, not simply as a patient.

And oh! Something else, because I come from a family who uses inappropriate humor to defuse stress, I laughed. I laughed a lot.

Embrace it all

Embrace what comes to you, celebrate the adversity. Let go of the fear of things you cannot control and grab onto those things that you can. And laugh, please laugh.

I embrace that my bikini days are over, that I’ve gained thirty pounds since age forty. I embrace that lovers haven’t been turned off by my scars; my inner beauty is celebrated instead. I embrace that what is encountered in life does make you stronger, wiser and better.

It’s my hope that my message will inspire you to:

  • Know, and seriously… LISTEN to your body.
  • Schedule your annual exam. Early detection saved my life; I had no symptoms.
  • Meditate.
  • Spoil yourself with TIME for making memories. Stuff is great, but time is precious.
  • Surround yourself with a few when-the-chips-are-down friends.
  • Scare yourself. Don’t settle for a life of boring routines and safety.
  • Laugh more, a lot more.
  • Have a gay friend. All woman should have at least one. I have seven, that I know of.
  • Drink really good gin.
  • And remember, none of us get out alive, so embrace it and be inspired.

On the walls of my home are numerous art pieces, among my favorites say:

Shit creek survivor.

And the quote from Will Rogers, “Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know “why” I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.”

I have more, but you’ll have to be invited. They’re not printable here, remember – I have that humor thing.

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