Today, June 11, would have been my aunt’s 60th birthday. It might explain the pouring rain today. She must have been camping somewhere in heaven. I’d like to imagine that at 60 she would have been just as active as she had been 10 years ago. Camping with Girl Scouts, traveling, and just doing what she loved doing.
I thought about her a lot today to be honest with you. I thought about how we would always celebrate the June birthdays (my Aunt, my Mom, and I all had our birthdays in that order too) on a Sunday in June at my Aunt’s and Nana’s house. I thought about how much the Daughter would have had fun at one of those little family gatherings. I thought about how they were just nice days together, laughing, talking, genuinely enjoying each other.
The tradition has morphed a little since she passed. We do a little more than just go to my Mom’s house and have lunch and cake. We go and do something: bowling, 5 Wits at Patriot’s Place, Dave & Busters, and other fun times. It’s nice because it keeps me and the three brothers, and my sister-in-laws (The Husband’s sister often comes with her Boyfriend which is nice) close. We have fun. We laugh. We still keep that sense of family – something that is so very important to me.
In addition to that tradition, I have my own personal tradition that I have started since the passing of my aunt. She lost her battle to cervical cancer on January 12, 2010. Now, twice a year, on that date in January and on her birthday, I like to remind people to take care of themselves.
If you haven’t made your annual doctor appointments, call and make them. If you need to have your annual pap test, schedule it. If you need to have your annual physical, schedule it. Get your blood work looked at. Get screened for skin cancer. Get your prostate checked. Don’t lose the best defense you have – EARLY DETECTION!
My aunt discovered her cancer too late, as often is the case with gynecological cancers. Trust me – after my own freakish cyst managed to grow to the size of a grapefruit, unbeknownst to me, in less than six months – think about what it could have been if it had been undetected! Gynecologic cancers are tricky because so many women write them off as cramping or as bloating from something they ate. In my case, I thought it was just because I was overweight and it was just one more reminder to focus on Weight Watchers. Scarily enough, no…it wasn’t. Men often do the same thing.
Know your body. Know what’s normal for you. When something is not up to your normal standard, talk to your doctor. Ask questions. Doctors are not scary mean people. They are there to keep you healthy. They like patients to take an active role in their healthcare. Before my surgery, I went in with a list of written questions just because there were so many unknown factors. The doctor thought that was wise and she took the time to answer every single one and then some!
So, dear readers, in honor of my Aunt, take the time to take care of yourself. Your loved ones don’t want to say good bye too soon. They want to celebrate your 60th birthday with you. They want you to be around to laugh with them, talk with them, and maybe play laser tag at the next family birthday get together!