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Last night, we celebrated my cousin Lisa’s birthday.  Her actual birthday is on August 31st; but, with crazy schedules and company in from out of town, this was the first chance we had to get together.

This birthday was even more special, because, as many of you know, Lisa is fighting breast cancer.

It’s been a long year in many ways, and at the same time, it’s gone by unbelievably fast.  When Lisa was first diagnosed in January, and then had her double mastectomy in February, she was told that she faced fifty-four chemotherapy treatments, plus radiation.  That seemed like so many.  It is, and I’m not the one being ravaged by chemicals, spending hours and hours in doctor’s offices and hospitals.

When Lisa came in, she was smiling.  She’s carrying a little bit of weight, thanks to the chemo; but, her hair is starting to grow back.  She’s itching to have it get long enough to color, as she’s not into rocking the Susan Powter look.  She was smiling, despite running non-stop, entertaining company, shuttling her two girls around and dealing with a four year-old in the throes of “The Fearsome Fours,” all while fighting the fight of her life.

We spent a couple of hours at our favorite pizza place.  Her oldest and my youngest are just a couple of months apart in age.  It was fun to watch them talking a mile a minute, comparing pictures on their cell phones and laughing together.

Lisa’s friend was visiting, on leave from her army post at Fort Bragg.  We talked about Hurricane Irene, and about all of the things that they’d done during her visit.  Our husbands drank beer, compared video game stories and talked football.

It was almost normal.  It’s hard to believe that it’s September already.  This has been a year that none of us had bargained for; but, it makes birthdays…every day, that much more special.

I am so grateful to be able to share these days with Lisa.  She is so strong, and is an example every day of grace and fortitude.  I look forward to sharing many more birthdays with her.