Birthday tears...

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
For those of you that follow the Dear Melanoma Facebook Page and Instagram page, you would know that a few weeks ago it was my birthday. I was very much looking forward to the day/week and was excited (like the 23 birthdays prior), but instead I was gifted with an emotional break down.

My break down was not because I didn’t get lots of love from my family and friends. It wasn’t because certain family members or friends could not be there to celebrate.

Instead, it was 100% my fault – I put too much pressure on this celebration. I put too much pressure on making memories. I put too much pressure on making sure that this birthday was worthy of being potentially my last.

This hairy man helped get that smile back on
my face!
I remember last year being upset on my birthday, because we most definitely thought that it would have been my last birthday. I had been told that I only had 3 months to live 5 months earlier and this was still very much at the forefront of my mind… and my family and friends.

Last year we went all out. My sister from Mackay made sure she was there for the day. Serge and I went out for a special dinner at ARIA. And, my best friends and I went away for a weekend together.

So what an anticlimax! I am still here and I saw another birthday. What a disaster! (Obviously written with a degree of humour…). How can you top your last birthday that was supposed to be your LAST BIRTHDAY EVER?!?

A month ago, I went to create a Facebook event to organise birthday festivities with my friends and I found it hilarious. I sat there giggling (Serge thought I was a complete fruit loop) at the thought of trying to communicate that this, once again, may be my last birthday so lets celebrate in style – how many ‘last’ birthdays can someone have? I settled with calling the event, ‘Another birthday! Woohoo!’.

Plans for this birthday were to be drawn out, but not as elaborate as last year. I was definitely less needy (very hard to believe, I know!). My sister was in Brisbane the week before my birthday with her baby, so we had an early family birthday that included pavlova for breakfast and the craziest cake for dinner. Than for my actual birthday, Serge and I were to spend the day and evening together. If that wasn’t already enough, we also had a day at Dreamworld with the family and drinks with my friends. I really managed to prolong having all the attention on me.

So it sounds like it was all pretty fabulous, but unfortunately on my actual birthday, I stayed at home and pretty much cried all day. I don’t think I even cried this much the day I was told that I had terminal cancer (that day I drowned my sorrows at Sushi Train… not even joking!).

I felt like a real idiot and very selfish for participating in some very pointless crying.
  1. I should feel grateful that I was celebrating another year of life.
  2. I should be like most normal people who don’t care how they spend their birthday.

Looking back on my emotional breakdown and after receiving so many words of support from the Dear Melanoma Facebook community, I definitely learnt that I need to cut myself some slack and that these feelings are common amongst many patients with terminal illness, as well as their families.

When you know that your time is limited, you put so much emphasis on making every moment, especially special events, count. I think this is why I hate the phrases, ‘live in the moment’ or ‘live each day like it’s your last’. Receiving that advice may be refreshing for some, but for me it is pressure. It is pressure to be happy and enjoy every moment. It is also the feeling that people expect that you are having or will have a fantastic day.  I definitely planned to enjoy my birthday. I had planned a week that was full of everything one needs to make their birthday amazing.

Some people like to offer the most frustrating advice. Yes, I comprehend that anyone could be hit by a car tomorrow and their birthday could be their last, and so, we should all ‘live in the moment’ – a big thank you to those people that like to remind me of that. BUT, I am sorry, this is a little different. No one walks around thinking ‘I could be hit by a car and killed today, I better have a cake for breakfast’. Whereas, I have been told that melanoma will kill me. I know the statistics. I have a good idea of when my time will come. And, there is not one day that goes by that I am not reminded that I have terminal cancer.

Drinks with my girls - a great high to end the weekend on.
I don’t think there is anyway of changing this pressure. I think it is just part of my life now. I am not going to stop putting emphasis on special events and making memories. I am going to celebrate every event in style – definitely when it includes pavlova for breakfast!

But, what I can control is how I respond to these emotions when they get too overwhelming and it is as simple as accepting them. No more feeling guilty about how I feel. It is what it is and I will cry like a baby when I need to. All I can do is hope that tomorrow is a better day, and more times than not it is.


  1. After all you've been through and are going through, it's totally normal to feel overwhelmed by it all sometimes. And I understand the pressure to try to enjoy each day/live each day like your last mentality! Pavlova for breakfast sounds great though :) Wishing you all the best x

  2. Hi Emma. Mamamia would absolutely love to republish this post. Would you be able to contact me at Look forward to hearing from you. Abby x

  3. I'm definitely not going to be one of those people to tell you to live in the moment.

    I think it is perfectly normal for those in your situation to place pressure and ultimately have increased anxiety around your birthday.

    I love that you're choosing to accept these emotions though. Feeling the feelings is all you can do.

    Erin x

  4. Well said Emma, so wise. Love your blogs.

  5. I LOVE your blog...and just FYI I cry at the drop of the hat...including getting very emotional over a toilet paper ad that had a puppy in it *sigh*....your reasons are bigger then mine, but your attitude is way cooler...xx

  6. Thank you for writing this, Emma. 'No more feeling guilty about how I feel', I like it. x Isabel

  7. Congratulations on achieving another rotation of the sun Emma. I hope however many remaining days/months/years you have are filled with pavlova.

  8. Dear Emma, despite the pressure you still have time to share with us out here in bloggerland. Of course its ok to cry, to run the whole gamut of emotions for that matter. That is part of you, your humanity. If we 'termies' (terminal) can't do this evey now then, who can. Mmm pavlova for brekkie, the cake in the photo looks worthy of Masterchef/My Kitchen Rules, of which I am a tragic. Take care Emma.


Thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate you taking the time to connect. Emma x

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