I received my first diagnosis of cancer at the age of 56. Easily solved.
My 2nd diagnosis. back with a vengeance at age 68. NOT SO EASILY SOLVED. It was stage-four with a prognosis of 2 months to live. The doctor wanted me to start 4 rounds of chemotherapy, 24 hours a day and then re-section my stomach and then more chemo after that. My life as I knew it, would be over.
I lost my grandmother, mother and two sisters to cancer, all of them before their 64th birthday. So I was going to do anything I had to to not have to fight those same battles.
People just expected me to listen to my doctors and be invisible… as they expected anyone my age to be –
But, not me. I wasn’t going to let cancer or doctors decide how I was going to live the rest of my life. I was going to make my own decisions about how I wanted to live.
I need more opinions! I cried!
And boy was I right.
After seeing Doctors 1,2, 3, it was 4 and 5, that found the experimental treatment that saved my life. That’s when I also found my voice! I believe I’m here today at age 82 able to tell my story 14 years later because of the combination of the two .. Cancer changed my viewpoint on everything. I began to realize if you stick to your guns, you can gain so much power, strength and confidence if you simply believe in yourself and don’t listen to outdated rhetoric!
Things were different, when I was growing up, we were told to look pretty, get married young, have children fast and keep our mouths shut.
Well, I did three out of four things; I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I got married at 19 and had both my kids by 23. I thought I would be that age forever. I never dreamed I would live to be someone concerned about age. But now that I’m here, at this place in my life, I say to -you--
IT’S ABOUT TIME we changed how we think about AGING.
We “older people” are no longer invisible. We are high-functioning and even flourishing-from our 50’s through our 90’s.
I’ll tell yoiu why we have changed! We know how to eat right, exercise our bodies and our minds.
We know how to be optimistic about our lives, and not only that, we have medicines and treatment we didn’t have 25 years ago.
That’s called living in a healthspan instead of a lifespan.
LIVING IN A Healthspan takes the number out of aging. It’s about lifestyle. If you live in a healthspan you can push back age-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease, etc, for another 10 to 15 years. It’s a win win situation because we would then have long and healthy lives while putting trillions of dollars back into the economy. This would eliminate the cost to the government.
Being 60, 70 or 90 doesn’t mean that you have to give up tennis, the gym or yoga. If I drink green juices and eat my quinoa and kale, it gives me energy and that makes me happy. BTW a chocolate bar filled with almonds makes me happy, too, but that’s another talk! I may not climb to the top of the highest mountain, like I used to, but I don’t stop hiking, I still climb far enough to hear my endorphins clanging away.
We, women have bought into feeling less beautiful and less powerful as we age for centuries. But that’s crazy! We are no longer invisible. We can’t worry about wrinkles. As we grow, we learn that our beauty and power is within us, not on the outside. So of course we have wrinkles. Wrinkles show life and experience. We have wisdom and life lessons to pass down and the longer we live, the more we have to share. Our job is to be teachers to those coming up behind us.
Look at all the fabulous women we have to look up to and these are just a few.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, 82
Award winner Cecily Tyson, 91
Gorgeous model Carmen, 83
And of course Iris Apfel darling of New York and fashionista, 94,
But trust me, there’s life after 50! And after cancer . Life taught me there are many chapters and cancer gave me a passion to help others
I remarried at 57, I wrote my first book at 68 and then wrote two more after that. I produced my first documentary at 71, started speaking around the country and became an advocate on aging in Washington DC. That’s when I realized we can have second, third and even forth chapters. I see it all the time
At retirement homes you don’t see old people, you see people going about their business, taking classes, exercising and having a glass of wine around the pool. I recently met a couple that newly married. Guess what? They were 89. That’s really optimistic! I don’t think she was pregnant.
Here I am at 82, AGING IN MY HIGH HEELS, with stage-four cancer, planning my future and why not? I have so much more to do. I want you to realize there is nothing to loose by aging but our fear of aging.
And maybe, just maybe you would be so inspired by hearing my story that you could picture yourself as a role model someday, too.
It’s time we not only changed how we look at aging but actually look forward to it. I leave it in your hands .