56. Finally. Every year, I wonder if I will make it to next year. I was born overthinking. The anxiety-ridden, obsessive-compulsive gene is hardwired into my brain.

I truly never thought I had the capacity to change. But some events in life do compel us to see things with greater clarity. Stuff still upsets me but I’ve learned to let many things go.

It’s no longer now or never, do or die, for me. These days, I say, if it’s God’s will, it will happen.

It won’t kill me if I never get to Antarctica. I can’t afford to fly over the Drake Passage but I will die if I have to sail through it. So why do it? Seems pointless if I have to die or go into debt just to tick an item off my to-do list.

In the last eight weeks, my to-do lists have gone into hibernation. I feel lazy but it seems liberating. They’ll be back, no doubt. Till then, I will lie back and enjoy my chill pill.

When you’re diagnosed with cancer at a time in your life when you feel perfectly healthy, you realize you are utterly powerless in this life. No matter what you do or don’t do—disease and/or death will find you. It’s not even a probability. It’s a certainty.

So no matter what life hands me, I’m going to make the most of it. Because life is short so I won’t waste a moment of it.

This is how cancer changed me.

Every bump on the road is just what it is. A bump on the road. If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you better. It will teach you to slow down not race through life without ever having stopped to smell a rose.

Life has changed. Definitely. And as the pandemic weeks turn into months, even the most upbeat among us are now starting to feel glum. How much longer do we need to stay away from the people we love? Will this ever be over? Will we ever hug again?

Each day, we carry the unbearable weight of uncertainty.

Yet, the fact remains that everything about life is uncertain. Every day, we live by the grace of God. But pre-pandemic, we chose to believe otherwise. We believed we were in complete control of our lives. It is a lie.

God has complete control of our lives. Every day is a gift. A miracle. Every day, we need to learn to be grateful.

This is how my mother’s death changed me.

This pandemic will change us—forever. But it may also change our lives for the better. We may need to rethink our values. We may need to reevaluate our goals. We may need to reinvent ourselves. But this has always been the way forward. Not just now.

Age is not JUST a number. It’s the number of years you have fiercely fought life’s battles and survived. So display it like a badge of courage—like your very own annual purple heart. Thank you to all of you who got me here today. 56. Finally.