So many things have been happening to me these last few weeks and I apologize for not writing sooner. After my stay in the hospital, the abdominal taps, and loss of fluid, I was finally able to enjoy some time with my sister in New York. I love going to her house and hanging with her 2 boys and husband. There really is never a dull moment when I am spending time with Jill. Jill is a breast cancer survivor and is also only a year and half older than me. Our relationship has grown much closer since I have been on my cancer journey. When I arrived at her home this time we had 2 items on our “bucket list” (to be referred to as “BL”) to complete; 1. a video message for my kids – 2. a tattoo! These items were not on my original bucket list. I knew that I wanted to have prepared some sort of message, letter, CD, etc for my kids but wasn’t quite sure what the best way to go about it would be. I may have briefly thought about a tattoo but have repeatedly told my kids (one is under age 10 & the other is under age 16) that writing with pen on your body is not a good thing and is very unhealthy. My sister brought up the idea a few weeks prior to my visit and mentioned that it was something on her bucket list. The more I thought about it I came to the realization that the best thing for me about one’s “BL” is that it can be better to share the experience with someone special and even more memorable is to be “invited” to be a part of someone else’s “BL”. I was very honored to share this experience with Jill. We researched design meaning, color meaning, where to go, would it hurt, etc.. We choose to include one symbol that we would both include and the rest of the design could be different. I am so glad that I, at 47 yrs, had this experience, shared it with my sister and did it to create an ever-lasting bond.
Next, Jill introduced me to a friend of hers, Carrie, who started the non-profit, “thru your eyes”. Carrie is also a cancer survivor and wanted to find a way to give back. When she was diagnosed with cancer many years ago, her children were much younger and she remembered how she felt when thinking that she may not be there in the future to teach them about dating, driving, college, traveling, marriage, her experiences growing up, etc.. So, she found the right people and created this amazing organization. For 2+ hours she and I had a conversation on camera about who I was, where I came from, where I went, where I am now, and where I want them to be. It was an amazing experience and one that I am still trying to process. It was very easy and comfortable and I highly recommend you check out her website. I just hope I am here in 5 years and will be able to redo the video so that I can give the kids more stories about my experiences so that they can learn and grow.
Lastly, my sisters and I (I have 3 sisters) decided we would like to go on a “sister’s trip”. We are all very close but realized that we have only gone away when we have our kids and husbands with us. It was time for these girls to have some quality fun time in the Hampton’s! We had 4 wonderful days at a very close family friends home. We sat by the pool, went to the beach, shopped around town, ate at some very fine restaurants, tried to spot celebrity without being to obvious and drank some very good wines. Hopefully this will be the first of many “sister trips” and as they say, “what happens on a sister trip stays between sisters!”
Most people I have spoken with about Bucket Lists start off by saying what is on their list and it usually is referring to places they want to go or an unusual activity they want to try or a famous person they would like to meet. At least that is how my list started out. The last few experiences I shared with you, the tattoo, the video, the sister trip and even starting CaringOn, were all experiences that I wanted to do for someone else, or to directly involve a particular person. This, for me, made/makes the time spent on the activity/experience that much more special and meaningful. The biggest challenge that I have found thus far is getting friends/family to understand the importance of “doing it NOW”. Even though I may not look like the “typical” cancer patient (I’m not bald, pale, extremely skinny etc,) this is the time when I can share in the experience. I have energy, and look and feel more like my old self. That is the person I want you to remember when we embark on a “BL” memory. Because if we wait until my disease progresses to the point that I am too tired to move, and the medicine does make me bald, and food doesn’t stay down, and I catch colds easily then the “BL” will never get done. So please, ask the person you think would like to share in your (your meaning-you, your Caregiver, your friend, loved one, co-worker, neighbor, etc) “BL” experience now and start planning it so that this experience can be shared through story telling, pictures, and even video. Take advantage of knowing, really knowing, that time is precious. And remember – Don’t put off what you can do today for tomorrow; for no one really knows what tomorrow may bring!
Keep on CaringOn!!