Today I sat down to lunch with almost two dozen women... nothing especially unusual there. Ranging from mid-twenties to 'stopped counting' what unites us a shared experience of breast cancer. When people talk of 'support groups' it conjures up images in my mind of drafty halls and weak tea, a those head-on-one-side looks that exude sympathy and earnest conversation in slightly sotto voce tones... Our group is nothing like that. We meet in a restaurant in central Glasgow, wine flows (as does lager, lemonade and tea!), laughter rings round the venue, and we talk about holidays, work, families and, yes, where appropriate cancer.
Today, it being the meet closest to my fiftieth birthday (next month) I had said I'd bring cake... no, they siad, we'll bring cake. And they plotted and they schemed, and surprised me with the most wonderful afternoon. A gorgeous handcraft card, signed by everyone. A beautifully decorated, scrumptious cake. And gifts - a TLM 'Gift for Life' of reconstructive surgery for someone affected by leprosy and enough Lakeland vouchers to keep me in cupcake kit for a very long time!
As I blew out my candle, one of the youngest girls said 'don't forget to make a wish'... well I wish there was no such thing as cancer, but through it have been trully blessed to meet the most amazing, loving, generous, feisty women. Yes, at 49 and 49/52 I had an amazing advance 50th birthday.
A little over two years ago I feared, genuinely, that I would not see fifty. It was great to celebrate today with folk who share that reality, and for whom every birthday is a celebration. As one of them said... "fifty is bl**** marvellous".