Birthday + Pandemic + Terminal Cancer = Perfection

If you would have told me three months ago, that I would be celebrating my last birthday of my 30’s being isolated from my family and friends during a pandemic I would have laughed at you. I probably would have told you that you were crazy and that there was no way I wasn’t going to have a big party for my birthday. But here we are and as insane as it is, I had one of the most memorable and special birthdays I’ve ever had. 

In the fall my husband and I started talking about my birthday party plans. It’s really challenging when you live with terminal cancer to plan for the future because there is no knowing how long I have. I live with a ticking time bomb inside of me, never knowing when its going to go off. Every birthday I’m alive for is a miracle. Really, every holiday and every day that I’m alive and feeling well is a miracle. The average for living with Metastatic Breast Cancer is 2-3 years and I’m a few days shy of being diagnosed with it 2.5 years ago. As much as I’d love to say I’m going to have a biggest 40th birthday bash, my reality is I just don’t know. So we started discussing our options- some more elaborate than others but nothing ever felt right. I wanted a party to include everyone but we kept running into problems. I wanted something low-key but wanted to invite everyone, without having a big fancy function. We kept brain storming and at the beginning of March decided that we would send out an email in a few weeks and invite everyone to meet us at a bar to celebrate with drinks and snacks. 

But, then Covid_19 showed up in Toronto and as of March 13, I have been isolated from everyone besides my husband and two kids. So there goes the bday party. My husband knew how important it was for me to have a party and he came through big time! Planning birthday surprises is challenging on a good day but when we are all together 24/7 it was a huge feat!!!

So my husband made it his mission to make it the best birthday ever. And let me tell you it was so so so special. Probably one of the most special birthdays I have ever had. 

Renee's 39th bday

When I woke up in the morning I had to start my newest round of chemo. That sucked but ya know cancer and treatment don’t t stop for special occasions. My friend picked up Starbucks for us and it was the best surprise to wake up to. For someone who is obsessed with Starbucks and haven’t had it in over 3 weeks, it was like tasting gold! hahaha. I really love my Starbucks. The kids then gave me their gifts which was an old school Raptors jersey and a singing lesson. My sister and my kids also gifted me a Cameo by actor Tamar Greene. When my husband and I were in Chicago in August, we saw Hamilton and saw and met Tamar Greene. Prior to the Broadway going dark he was George Washington in the Broadway cast.

The day was spent FaceTiming and phone calls from family and friends. I recieved so many thoughtful emails, texts, Facebook and Instagram messages and gifts!

I had friends and family do drive bys and visits. We were treated to lunch and beautiful signs that we have hung up on display. I guess this has been a huge perk of living on the 8th floor of a building that faces the street! It’s made it easy to “see” loved ones. 

My parents sent me a beautiful cake that we enjoyed the day before and my husband and kids got me an incredible cookie cake on my actual birthday. We got House of Chan for dinner. In other circumstances we would have gone out but instead all ate together and it was really nice. 

zoom birthday party covid_19

And then came the birthday party! My husband planned a zoom chat and we invited everyone! We had friends from all over the world join us and it was so so so special! It started out with a Kahoot trivia game about me hosted by my husband dressed as  Joe (Sammy) Exotic, then Tamar Greene made a cameo and sang a beautiful song from Ragtime, then Mark Selby and Renee Strasfeld led us in an amazing musical sing along with some of my favourite songs and last but not least our cousin Rob made a slideshow. You can watch it here 🙂

This might not have been the birthday party I expected to have at 39 years old, but it was perfect. I felt so special and so loved and that to me is the most important!

Thanks again to everyone who made my day very, very, very special especially to my husband for all his hard work. I love you.



  1. Linda Nann Gewurz says:

    Beautiful…just beautiful…I have known you for your 39 years……and I love you…….happy happy 39th…….celebrate each day with love and laughter…….from Montreal with love……..linda and family…..

  2. Fan R. says:

    Happy Birthday to you, Renee! You look great, guys, wishing you having all days feelings like during this one!!

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