A flash of red (happy birthday to me)

July 29th, 2013 § 39 comments

IMG_6558A flash of red amidst the green summer grass:

a lone leaf, blazing in autumn clothing, a vivid premature announcement of a change of season.

Perfectly waxy, thick and juicy, it could not have been there long.

It is, I realize, the color of my mother’s lipstick. The color she has worn every day of my life. Perfectly fitting for the moment…


I turn 44 today.
I do not know how I feel about this fact.

The day I turned 43 was a lifetime ago, surely not just one year. I did not know I had metastatic breast cancer then. I was ignorant and blissful.

I had no idea what my life would be when I reached this birthday.
I have no way to know what it will be when I reach the next. I do believe I will see it though.

I am in limbo at the moment, waiting in the next few weeks to see if my current chemo has stopped working. I do not know if I will need to move on to something else to try to buy myself some time.

That is, you see, my only wish: more time. That is what I wish for today.
Time with my husband. Time with my children. Time with my parents and brother.
Time with my friends.
Chances for memories.
Opportunities for more.

I will keep trying to give a face and a voice to this disease.

There is poetry in the human experience.
I will keep trying to find it, document it, and also help others.


One way I have tried to help is by setting up a research fund at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.

If you can spare a few dollars and want to donate them to research on metastatic breast cancer, you can do so here. I don’t directly ask for donations often, but on this day I will.

I am glad to see 44. But there is inherent sadness in birthdays now.


the wish that comes true if you just close your eyes and blow out the candles…
if only it were so.

And so there is an anachronistic flash of red,
a moment of color.

I am that leaf,
released from the tree before its time,
floating downward,
coming to rest where it has no earthly business being,
nestled in the green summer grass.


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§ 39 Responses to A flash of red (happy birthday to me)"

  • Danny D says:

    Happy Birthday to you my dear. I am so grateful for Lani introducing me to you and your intoxicating verbiage that makes us all better people.

    You are remarkable in so many ways and how I wish you lived closer so I could give you the greatest hug of all time.

    Here is to 45, wrinkles, wine and all that is good.

    • Lisa Bonchek Adams says:

      What a lovely sentiment. I am grateful too, and appreciate the help and support you have given. Thank you!

  • Diana says:

    I wish you time…
    Congratulations on your 44th birthday!

  • Kelly says:

    Get old, my dear! That’s what I wish for you.

    Happy birthday.


  • Happy Birthday. Wishing you a a beautiful love filled day. xo

  • I have been reading your blog and following you for a long time. I am a true believer in colors and how they show your energy and heal you. i know that may sound hokey but i think there is some truth to this. I read this post and thought right away about the color red and how powerful and energizing it is. This is the meaning…..RED AURA COLOR MEANING: Relates to the physical body, hart or circulation.The densest color, it creates the most friction. Friction attracts or repels; money worries or obsessions; anger or unforgiveness; anxiety or nervousness

    I wish you many more “red” days! Happy birthday Lisa!

  • Ann Gregory says:

    Happy birthday to the dearest person I know. My most fervent wish is that you get more time to share your beauty and grace.

  • Happy birthday, my lovely friend. Wishing you love, happiness, and lots and lots of time.

  • Jessica Humston says:

    Happy Birthday Lisa! My 29th birthday was this past Friday and I see in this post where you are coming from. i am a mother of 2 very small children and im not ready to leave them. I feel your words very close to my heart. I am waiting as well to see if my chemo is working as I am dealing with stage 4 cancer of unknown primary. May we live longer than expected and spend as much time with our families as possible.

  • Happiest of Birthdays to you, Lisa!

    I do my know you, but your life has impacted mine more than you know: I thank


  • Roshnee Verma says:

    Happy Birthday Lisa! Wishing you many many more!

  • Happy, Happy Birthday, dear Lisa. You are a very bright light in this world. Love from Molly always.

  • Joy Bilharz says:

    Happy Birthday Lisa. Your posts are heart-breaking in their poignancy as well as a document of the strength if the human spirit. I wish you a year of unexpected good medical news, love, happiness and Corgi cuteness.

  • Wishing you a day filled with poetry and much beauty. And wishes….

  • Elizabeth says:

    Happy Birthday to you. Hope you have a wonderful day. May you have the privilege of growing old. That’s how I look at each birthday now – a privilege and another year of suviving this disease.

  • Susie Simmons says:

    I sat in church yesterday morning thinking of you, and prayed for a miracle. I would love to read your posts of experiencing a miracle in your medical developments; I would wish for you to die of happiness in your old age. God bless you and happy birthday, Lisa!

  • Kim C says:

    I understand the significance of the red leaf. I used to love the most beautiful flowers in my garden. Now, I’m drawn to the roses with brown tips, half eaten petals and the little buds that didn’t get a chance to open. I wish you, and everyone whose experienced a cancer diagnosis, many, many more years to come! Happy Birthday, Lisa!

  • Paul Blais says:

    Lisa, sweet and sour has always been intriguing to me. Two contrary flavors competing for dominance on the palate. Your birthday wrestles with both the sweetness of having had 44 precious years of family, friends, and life, and the competing sourness of knowing those days are numbered. I am sorry. I am between treatments myself and I don’t know what the future holds. I just have the ominous words of my doctor saying I have an 80% chance of recurrence. The mysterious pains in my side bring sourness to my sweet relief of freedom from treatments. I don’t know what you are going through, but I still know. With all my heart I wish for you wish to come true- more time. Love from a stranger.

  • Deborah Gibson says:

    Achingly beautiful metaphor. Happy Birthday wishes and love.

  • Joy says:

    Happy Birthday Lisa. My hope is that Aromasin keeps working for you and that you have many more good than bad days in the coming year.

  • Kerry B says:

    Happy Birthday, Lisa. I have been reading your blog for awhile now and following you on Twitter. Your writing always cuts to the core and makes me cry.

    My beautiful mother turned 60 last October and within 3 months of that special day we found out her Triple Negative Breast Cancer had come back with a vengeance, with widespread metastases. Watching her endure chemo, surgery and radiation the first time was horrible enough. What she’s suffered since the cancer returned, though, is the most painful thing I’ve ever had to see and I am completely powerless to help. I honestly don’t know what I’ll do without her, she’s my best friend and the most loving grandmother to my children.

    She and I have a hard time talking about the difficult stuff so reading your thoughts and feelings somehow helps me and I think gives me a glimpse into what she might be experiencing. Thank you so much for your honesty.

    Wishing you many more birthdays with your husband, children and family.

  • Mary T says:

    Seems that you have found the poetry of the human experience for sure, and are helping us find ours too by sharing your thoughts and observations, your ups and your downs, most of all- your authenticity. Many thanks for all it takes – the spoken and unspoken, for you to do that with and for us. Happy birthday to you.

  • Pam says:

    Singing you the happy birthday song with special flair on the “and many more” bit.

    Beautiful post.

  • Happy birthday and fervently wishing for you many happy returns!

  • Renn says:

    Happy Celebrate Lisa Day!
    You are a true inspiration to so many.

  • Love and time: surely the greatest gifts of all. May you have both, Lisa. And on the occasion of your birthday I want to thank you for the love and grace with which you write about this journey, and the time you take to put your experiences and feelings into words for the rest of us. May you receive as much as you so generously give. Happy day, bright red leaf!

  • Kathleen says:

    Happy Birthday Day!! Wishing you more love, more memories, and more birthdays!!

  • There is indeed poetry in the human experience and yours is some of the most powerful I have read. Thank you for giving us your poetry and your wisdom. Happy Birthday Lisa!

  • julie r says:

    Lisa, I love your persistent reminders of the human face of cancer.
    It’s not a ribbon or wrist and or a nameless warrior. It’s lovely women like you. We are so blessed, those who know you, to be enriched so often with your poetry and beautiful sentiments. Happy birthday to you, and thanks for giving US the gift of you. 🙂

  • Terri says:

    Happy Birthday Lisa!

    What an exquisite post. Although I don’t have $ to donate now, I am sending light, love, and wishes for SO MUCH MORE time. Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world.


  • Jan Hasak says:

    Happy birthday, Lisa! Your poetry is exquisite. I can so relate, even though I am so much older than you, by almost two decades. We are in that same Stage IV sinking boat, the one everyone wants to get out of and into a reliable and predictable lifeboat. Take good care. xo

  • jenn says:

    Happy birthday beautiful Lisa; wishing you time, of course, and solace that comes from knowing how deeply you affect all of us xox a grateful reader

  • Jo Nanson says:

    Happy Birthday. enjoy the day and your family

  • Kathleen says:

    Happy birthday, Lisa. I hope you felt celebrated and know, even moreso, how loved you are. I thought of you today looking at some gorgeous bright pink Asian lilies. Imagine that? Strangers, but for the internet, and I think of you when I see things of beauty. ~K

  • I do hope you had a Happy Birthday with your family, Lisa.

    I so appreciate your authentic and powerful writing.

    You put into words what I have difficulty doing. Thank you for voicing the feelings of so many of us survivors.

  • Thandi says:

    From a well-wisher in Cape Town, South Africa… Hope you had a peaceful birthday.

  • Rebecca says:

    A belated Happy Birthday! (sorry to be late)

    I hope you and your family had a wonderful time creating memories.

  • Happy birthday a few days late! I hope you had a wonderful day.

  • Lorie says:

    I hope you had a great birthday Lisa! I continue to be enthralled by your writing. Wishing you love, happiness and time to share wonderful memories with your family. Sending you healing thoughts and prayers!

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