A Different Kind of Bucket List

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t think of all the things I haven’t done yet or all the things I need to get done. I thought of my family. Because I have young children, my first thoughts were of them. Wanting to see them grow up, to become responsible adults … and know I had something to do with that. My dreams have been concrete: of weddings and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, of first dates, of my son’s first shave, of my daughter’s first period, of teaching them both to drive. It was never of all the places I may have once dreamed of going. As a mom with young kids and cancer, I look at things differently than I might at another stage of life. Sure, I used to dream of the places I wanted to travel to when my kids were off to college and I didn’t need to work anymore. But then I got cancer and just didn’t care about that anymore.

Not only are my priorities wrapped up in my children, but so are my finances. Cancer, if you don’t already know, is an extremely expensive disease. There’s the loss of work and income, the health and drug expenses and so on. So concern for my children’s financial future also plays a part in my life plan. All I ever wanted was to have my family secure and happy and be there to take part in it.

But a girl can always dream, can’t she?!! Almost every summer since I was a kid myself, my family has gone to the beach. As a child, it’s a wonderful happy time to run in the sand and play in the water. And as a parent, it’s wonderful to watch your children have those moments. So one of the things I had long wanted to do was go to the beach for longer than a week. (I could rarely get off work for more than that). Last summer, I was knee deep in radiation treatments in Indiana, which means our family hasn’t been to the beach — or barely anywhere, for that matter — in two years. We really deserved a break!

So awhile ago, I started to plot. Now that I’m on maintenance chemo, it finally seemed possible. I spoke with my doctors about rearranging my meds so that I could take some time off. Everyone pulled together to make this happen. At the beginning of July, I grabbed the family and our new puppy, headed to the beach, and didn’t come back until the months end. What a glorious time we had!! The kids buried themselves in the sand, jumped the ocean waves and ate all the junk food they could stomach. I got to put my feet in the sand and feel the ocean spray on my face. I even went down the volcano water slides with my kids and husband!!!!

Poor Jere was so worried because sun and someone who’s just been through radiation don’t exactly mix, but I wore my goofy hat with pride and sat under two umbrellas and had the time of my life. My kids would ask me, “What are our plans for today, Mom?” and I would answer, “ANYTHING WE WANT THEM TO BE!!!!” What a contrast to our day-to-day life that is usually overscheduled with either my doctor appointments or their activities. And the best part was, if they wanted to change their minds, they could. We were free to do anything we wanted. It was glorious.

Though I’m home now and back to all my doctor appointments and busy schedule, I can still close my eyes and smell the ocean breeze on my face. I smile. I may not have a bucket list, but I sure did make a dream come true this summer … cancer and all.

12 comments

  1. Viki,
    Thanks for sharing! Sounds like a wonderful time for all! Family is most important and what better way to relax than the beach! Thoughts and love are with you!
    Hope 🙂

  2. I am happy you got some time off!! That feels SOOOO GOOD I can relate. So you got a puppy what kind did you get? My dog Paige just had a litter of shih tzu pups. They are fun to watch better than the telly. If you ever make it back to Indiana you email me I will send you my phone number I will so visit you. You keep the faith and as for bucketlist I will be almost finishing mine in 2013 we I grad. from college I have done 98 of 100 things to do the last one was to live to be 80. I hope I get to do all of them. My favorite thing on my bucket list was to jump off of a bridge with my only son he was 17 I was 39. That was 5 years ago!!! Times like this make everything good. There are someday for a brief moment I forget I am sick.

    1. Jaimie, I love hearing from you. we got a teacup yorkie. She’s a doll. We are still working hard at potty training her but she’s a love bug. My husband was really against it so it took some doing but I can’t blame him. He’s worried about taking care of me the kids and a dog but I’ve been doin ok and able to help kids with her. I would love to meet you. Going bk to see my hero doc for his son’s bar mitzvah sometime next year. Will let you know. Jumping off a bridge… are you nuts????? viki

  3. Viki – I’ve been following your blog through Michelle. So glad to read about this wonderful time with your family. I have another friend going through treatment as well and she phrases her attitude as “living loud” – glad to see you’re doing the same!

  4. I am not allowing Viki to jump off a bridge – instead we can drive our car really really fast to the mall – the only jumping Viki needs to do is for a shoe sale – right Viki!

  5. Hi Viki. Loved your beach story. You are teaching people to learn to live. You give us all a wonderful gift with every blog. Thanks for sharing. Love Dottie. P.S. hi to Jere!

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