Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Happy and HEALTHY Birthday, Karen

"Nothing contributes so much to tranquilizing the mind as a steady purpose -- a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye." Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Today is my niece Karen's birthday. You could ask, who gives a whoop besides her family? Anybody who's ever faced cancer, that's who. They know, as Karen knows, that every birthday is a gift. More, a triumph.

Karen's been fighting cancer for 8 years. During most of those years not for herself, which would be hard enough. But for her young son, which is, to a parent, much, much worse.

Alex was diagnosed at age 4 with a rare disease called VHL. An operation removed all the mechanics of his right ear, carotid artery and part of his brain. The outer ear is still there, but the hearing is gone.

You all know Alex. I haven't written about him for a while because although he's an extraordinary boy, thank god there's been nothing out of the ordinary to say. Last week Alex celebrated his 12th birthday.
A continuing triumph. Of family and medical diligence, healthy lifestyle, good karma, mind over matter. Whatever, we'll take it. Especially now for Karen's birthday too.

Because incredibly, a year and a half ago Karen got cancer. Not VHL. Skin cancer. Melanoma. Oh yeah. we've all heard of that. And not in a good way.

Karen's was first a small patch on her leg. Excised, clean margins, finished. Then, six months later tumors in her right eye signaled the much rarer, much more dangerous, ocular melanoma.

They tried everything, but it came back. On April 16, barely a month ago, surgeons had to remove her right eye. An outer cover is there, attached to the muscles which still work, but the sight is gone.

Karen and Alex. Mother and son. Different cancers, similar losses, totally the right attitude.

Fight. Mobilize. Energize. Laugh. Love. Live. Learn all you can. Gather your physical and emotional resourses. Seek and accept support and counsel and advice. Lean on your loved ones and stand on your own two feet.

According to Karen's example, that's what you do to survive. More, that's how you live life to the fullest.

Karen is a survivor of the highest order. An inspiration to cancer victims, mothers of cancer victims, other survivors and those who are trying to be. An object lesson to those of us who waste time moaning about petty problems.

Tomorrow Karen has her first appointment to be fitted for an artificial eye. She's been wearing cool eye patches, but is really looking forward to looking like she's got the real deal.

What a birthday present, eh? And not just for another of life's milestones, but for a true celebration of life itself.

Happy and HEALTHY Birthday, Karen. We're all wishing you many, many, many, many more.

Get the whole 411 on Karen HERE.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, in advance, to all of you out there who have supported me, thought of me and prayed for me. I feel great today and am truly thrilled o be celebrating my birthday... again! When Bob and I arrived home from diner tonight, we walked in the door to my kids singing "Happy Birthday" and leading me to a tray of cookies they made and baked themselves while we were out. The one candle burning in it's glass holder signified the significance of this day, how blessed I am and what truly remarkable children I have! My glass is all the way full!

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Karen! Good luck with the new eye, please show us a picture soon.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Karen, you really are blessed. I like the one candle, it shows how smart your children are. And how brave they are too. I hope all works out for you. I know Sally will keep us posted.

3:35 PM  

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