I’m afraid it is time for another small confession.
One of the prompts for my visit to Cambodia was to continue a strange practice which started on my trans-siberian epic journey 12 years ago. Wait a minute, how many years ago? Impossible! Well, however many years ago it was, it sparked the practice of spending my birthdays in Asia. Over the past 12 years I have spent my birthdays in Nepal (several), Thailand, Mongolia, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and of course the one where it started – China. I have a strange pull to spend the day in a different Asian country each year if possible. Hence the Cambodia visit.
When I revisit my thoughts from this time last year, I realise how far I really have come. Last year I spent a quiet and reflective day, and I can see just how much I was still wrapped up in a cancery space emotionally and physically. I had only just started going “topless” a couple of weeks previously, braving my scalp stubble to the world, and was still suffering from the later stages of shingles.
For the first time since starting to blog, I am going to do something really radical just to highlight how far I have come indeed……..
This is a photo. Of me. Last year. On my birthday.
I am becoming less precious about being anonymous, and while I do not like photos of myself (especially the ones where I have “cancer” stamped clearly on my forehead), I do feel more able to come out from behind my protective barrier. And one big reason is that I feel able to share a picture from my birthday this year, here in Cambodia.
My day was firmly about living in the present. None of know what is ahead and with the cancer lens in front of our eyes, fear and anxiety are never far away. So I grasped the mettle and decided to do something I have long wanted to do and not think of the distant future and what might or might not happen. I booked myself an “off the beaten track” trip for the day and despite torrential monsoon rain, I had an incredible day, slithering around villages and clambering over temples like an aging, bespectacled female Indiana Jones!
I still have my anxieties, and I still fear the return of cancer. I know that won’t change and will intensify and fluctuate with scares and checks. But for today I have discovered that I can live in the immediate, here-and-now present. And that is the best birthday present possible.