Growing up, I never understood why women were always afraid to tell their age. I figured if you made it to be old, you should be proud of that fact. As a kid and teenager I always wanted to be older.
When I reached my 20s I thought it was fun and cool to be out on my own and then to get married.
My 30s were full of excitement and joy as I welcomed all three of my kids into the world and I learned to be a mom of three boys while continuing to build a business.
My 40s have been spent watching my boys grow, enjoying the fruits of my labor in the business world, finding a new passion with a charity, and hopefully leaving the world in better shape than I found it.
But as I prepare to turn 50, I found myself dreading the big day and worrying that society will no longer find me valuable. Let's face it, our culture doesn't have a long history of embracing "middle-aged" women.
I didn't want to mark the occasion with a big party. A quiet dinner with my family or an evening watching one of my boys play baseball would be sufficient as I officially reached the half-century mark.
But, something happened one morning a few months ago that changed my perspective. God whispered in my ear that I should be thankful for the 50 years. He reminded me that there are many people who never reach this milestone, especially kids with cancer. And with that, my attitude changed. I decided to use this opportunity to make a positive difference.
Ten years ago I was happily celebrating my 40th birthday with a party surrounded by lots of family and friends. But the next day my life changed forever when Connor, the four-year-old son of friends Joy and Tait Cruse, was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma on May 15, 2005.
From that moment on, I began a journey to raise awareness and funds for more childhood cancer research. This cause has not only touched my heart, it became embedded.
How could I be whining about 50 when Connor only reached the age of eight? He battled four long years with countess treatments, hospital stays, surgeries, infusions, a bone marrow transplant, and numerous trips across the country to try new therapies.
Connor never graduated from high school or went to college… he never had the chance to get married or have children or enjoy many other milestones we take for granted.
I have been given the blessing of reaching the age of 50, so I am going to dedicate my 50th year to TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation in honor of Connor Cruse and all the other children with cancer who never got the opportunity.
2015 will not be a year of sadness for me, but rather a year of joy and a celebration of life. I am going to spend the year raising money for TeamConnor so more research can be funded to get us closer to a cure for the numerous types of childhood cancer. Connor continues to inspire me and he is the reason I am CELEBRATING 50 FOR A CAUSE. I have learned so much in the past 10 years, but most importantly I discovered that turning 50 is a blessing in disguise.
Will you join me? Will you consider making a $50 donation to TeamConnor in memory of Connor so we can fund more research.
Join the party at teamconnor.org
TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation