Already 366 days have passed since my huge surprise party on my 30th birthday last year. And yes, I had an extra day in 2016 to enjoy my 30s as it was a leap year. One precious extra day that means so much more for me. It means 24 hours extra for me to live, or 1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds.

And now I am again a year older. In fact one year and one day! This year it is actually quite a fancy date: 17.01.2017. Don’t you think? I am so thankful for having turned 31 years old, as there was a time in 2016 where I thought I would not even make it to my next birthday. But as you can see, I made it and I show the middle finger to this fucking cancer. My willingness to live and fight is stronger than these little tumor cells that keep growing and eating up my healthy cells. I am proud of myself to still be here, and I am doing well. I still have the energy to do things, to travel and I still have the same immense appetite like before. I still have been spared with tremendous pain that would interfere in my daily life or travel plans, and I continue to live doing the things I enjoy. I appreciate all small positive things in life, but especially more time given to me to live.

If there was one wish I could I have right now, I would wish me more time. Just time to stay on this earth and enjoy more moments with my family and friends. Of course I pray for a miracle and that out of nowhere my cancer would disappear, but staying realistic I would be content with finding a way to keep this cancer under control and simply have more time.

On my birthday my mum told me for probably the 30th time the story about my birth and what was happening during certain hours of the day. I always listen to the same story year after year with the same curiosity and tension, and love looking at my mum with how much enthusiasm, joy and love she talks about the 17th January of the year 1986.

Turning 31 years old also made me very thoughtful, and I keep imagining where I could be standing in life if almost 3 years ago I hadn’t had this diagnosis. Many friends of mine are getting engaged, or married, or starting to plan for a family at my age. It makes me very sad to know that I will never have those “special events” in my life anymore. Which girl has not pictured herself walking down the aisle with her Dad by her side on her wedding day? Well, I did, but probably I wouldn’t want the same way as I imagined as a little girl. But one thing that really upsets me is that I will never know how it feels when a baby grows in your tummy. I won’t feel its first kicks, or see my belly grow and admire what Mother Nature offers. I will never experience the birth of a child nor actually see it growing. I am not able to gift my parents with grandchildren, so I hope my brother will eventually do it one day. 🙂  It is a strange feeling that something I really wanted, having a family and having children will no longer be possible. It has also made me realize how vulnerable we are in reality and how life can actually throw a spanner in someone’s plans. Every time I see a friend who is either pregnant or already a mother, I always feel a bit of envy that they actually have been blessed with a baby. I do feel very happy for them and I am just as much excited about it as they are, but every time I ask myself how it would have been if I was in that situation. It’s just that small little jealousy because I am not able to experience the same thing anymore. Cancer has taken this away – the possibility of experiencing a family, which sometimes really fills me with sadness. But on the other side, trying not to feel depressed about it, I keep telling myself that I am lucky I do not have children, and when the day comes I don’t leave a son or daughter without his or her mother. I console myself that there are no children that would wake up one day without a mother. That’s at least the positive side I try to see when I feel sad.

I would like to add that there are even younger people than myself battling with cancer – teenagers and children – who have not even had the possibility to experience finishing their high school, doing their drivers license, going to university or even never experienced true love. There are so many things to add onto this list. However I had the opportunity to do and see so much in my short life, and I certainly can’t complain. Everything I wanted to achieve in life I actually did except for having my own family with children. It’s one thing out of so many on my wish list that will never become true, and so I can be grateful for everything else I was able to have, experience and love.

So hence my birthday was a beautiful day with lots of messages, calls and emails received. Not to forget the many flowers being sent to me, but still I had plenty of time to think ‘I am one year older, I am now just the same age as my mother was when she delivered me 31 years ago’. I guess that number 31 is what irritated me this year.

My birthday celebrations however did not end here and rather continued for the rest of the week: on the 18th I went to watch the musical “Mary Poppins” in Stuttgart together with my parents and brother. On the 20th we all went out for my birthday dinner at one of my favorite restaurants “Nannina” where Becci, my best friend, joined as well.

Last but not least on Saturday evening (21st), my two cousins surprised me at home in Stuttgart. They drove specially 600km from Italy just to spend one evening and half Sunday with me!! We had raclette for dinner, and on Sunday whilst watching our favorite team (Juventus) playing on TV we had cheese fondue. What better way to end the weekend?!

It was indeed an extended birthday week for me and simply spending time with the people I love was the best gift given to me. Time is all I wish for!