August 31 each year signals another year since August 31, 2012. The day I had brain surgery to remove the brain tumour that had doubled in size, blocking the cerebrospinal fluid inside my brain, causing it to swell.

One might think it strange to remember this day each year right?

Well, for me it was lifesaving and life changing. Each day and year that passes, does not go by without a reminder of what has happened in the past. This is not a negative statement but the reality of living with a brain injury as a result of hydrocephalus, brain surgery and post-surgical meningitis. Not to be clichéd, but there have been many growth and gratitude opportunities for me out of this experience, after having dealt with all the trauma and grief that came with it.

And so, today, I put pen to paper on my musings from over almost a decade now since August 31, 2012. A reminder list to myself, in no order of particular importance.

  1. Life turns on a dime. Breathe in the small things and live life each day as it comes.
  2. Special and inspirational people have walked into my life because of my diagnosis. For that I am blessed. With that comes heartache as well. People has passed on from brain cancer and brain tumours but I am all the more richer for having known each and every one of them.
  3. Memories fade, more quickly than most when you have a brain tumour. Short-term and long-term memory loss is a harsh reality to live with. Find the tools to cope, laugh often, sleep lots and know it’s ok to call things “thingamajig”!
  4. Look for ways to find your passion and inspiration around you. There are many people and things to inspire and guide you.
  5. Mental health challenges aren’t talked about enough for individuals affected by brain tumours. This needs to change.
  6. It’s ok to be scared and brave at the same time.
  7. I love and respect by brain for all it has gone through. Without it, I am just an empty outer shell.
  8. New normal, better normal.
  9. Make time your friend and not your enemy. Find time and space to be still.
  10. Connect with people who share the same story, diagnosis, condition as you. Storytelling is how we share information, connect with others. It’s a human thing.

Doing this reminded me of the “Manifesto” I wrote almost seven years ago.

My “anniversary” or ” brainiversary” in my case is a celebration of life, of gratitude for what I have each day, the steps I have made forward, the lessons learnt and those to come.

Almost ten years on. Going strong. Bring it on.