“We all know we are going to die, we just refuse to believe it. And we would do things differently if we did.” — Tuesdays with Morrie

I read this quote in the book last weekend, and it has been sticking with me. I also encountered a beautiful website where a husband features photos of his late wife who recently died of breast cancer. She was diagnosed only 5 months after they got married,  and she passed away almost five years later. mywifesfightwithbreastcancer.com, “The Battle We Didn’t Choose.” My husband and I can relate A LOT to that title.

As I clutch the quote above close to my heart, I can’t help but wonder – “what if my cancer comes back, or I am diagnosed with a different cancer, and I am gone in five years? What if this is my fate? What if, like millions of people around world, my death will be dying of cancer?”

Never in these last nine months, since the day I was diagnosed, did I ever once consider dying of my disease … until this past weekend. The pain from the chemotherapy was so overwhelming! And they say that when you die of cancer there is a lot of pain. So I wondered if the pain I was feeling was anything similar to what dying of cancer feels like. Depressing, right?? I kept myself full of pain meds while I endured the symptoms of treatment, but I felt it the second the meds wore off – I was in agony.

Kind of morbid … sorry!!! But I couldn’t keep it from crossing my mind! I swear I will turn this into a positive post. 🙂 I know we’re not supposed to talk about “death”, especially when you have cancer. Positive, positive, positive – right?! 😉

Where I was going with all of this is that my weekend in agony prompted me to ask myself, “What is most important to me in life? What to I want to accomplish? What would I do if, say, I did only have five years to live?”

And this is where the lists begin:

Most Important Things in Life:

  • My Husband
  • My family
  • My friends
  • Charity  – helping others
  • Loving myself
  • Compassion for others
  • Peace
  • Freedom

Things I Want To Do:

  • Play flute
  • Dance
  • Get my body strong and healthy
  • Fly an airplane
  • Perform on a stage
  • Travel the world
  • Write a book (maybe)

Charitable Causes I Want To Be Apart of:

  • Children’s Cancer Association – I would love to become a Chemo Pal!
  • Women’s Domestic Abuse Hotline – Been thinking about this for a long time and I really want to do it, in honor of one of my very best friends.
  • Cervical cancer awareness – slowly becoming the “new” breast cancer
  • Youth oncology
  • Empowering young women
  • Music & Arts

It was scary, accepting that I am going to die, and MAYBE die of cancer, one day. But it is also very freeing. I know what I want and who I want to be now, and these philosophies will only continue to bloom as I grow.

Have you ever made a list like these? Why or why not? Do you plan on executing what is on your “lists”, whether they be mental or on paper?

Even if my scan next week still show signs of cancer, I am not going to “stop life” like I did before. If I have to go through more treatment, I am going to keep to my lists and keep going. I can’t let anything stop me. If disease ends up taking over my body one day (hopefully not), I might be too physically weak to accomplish these things, so I need to proceed while I still have strength. You know the old saying … “Live like you are dying”. I can’t control how or when my body will stop working, but I can control what I do with it while I’m still functioning.

Ending this post with the Serenity Prayer … it’s so beautiful:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

–Reinhold Niebuhr


…. and the final dance scene from ‘Center Stage’. Just dance!