Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Bucket List

Ever since the movie "The Bucket List" came out, it seems that the concept of having a list of things to do before you die is quite popular. In fact, it has become sort of a parlor game for milestone birthdays.

This week, when I was at the eye doctor's, I was chatting with a man and his wife while waiting for my eyes to dilate.  He said his wife recently had surgery for breast cancer and I said that I too had had breast cancer several times and eventually I told him that I was stage IV.  "Oh," he said "have you started on your bucket list?"  Frankly, I'm too busy trying to stay alive.

And I'm too busy trying to get things done and taken care of so that when I do die, my family isn't burdened with stuff.  Literally and figuratively.  Besides, a lot of "bucket list" fodder either costs too much money, or are reliant on time.  I mean, my bucket list includes seeing my daughter graduate from college and settled in her own life.  Yes, even a grandchild would be cool...but none of these things do I have control over.

Yes, I would like to go back to Europe as I have only been to England and Scotland.  Ireland would be nice and seeing Scandinavia and Spain would be very neat indeed.  Friends who have gone have sworn that I MUST go see Florence and Venice....But, all of this takes time and money both of which are in short supply.

It's funny....why is it now imperative that people who are staring death in the face have a bucket list? and how in heaven's name are those of us who are fighting supposed to be able to do those things? How absurd!

In addition, it can be hurtful.  Take, for instance, what happened to a friend of mine.  She has been fighting ovarian cancer for several years, and has had quite a bit of surgery because of it.  She too is stage IV and was told that probably it would be back within a matter of a couple of years.  She recently went to a friend's 60th birthday party.  At the party, the honoree said "Ok, lets everyone make out our bucket list and read them to each other."  My friend was extremely uncomfortable with this and took the honoree aside and indicated her discomfort.  Then she went out and talked to another friend on the phone as she struggled to contain her feelings.  When she went back in, she was asked once again to make her bucket list and tell everyone.  My friend decided that this was not a good place for her to be at that time and she left.

Obviously, no one took into consideration what this might mean for my friend and it was all together too obvious that it WAS all about the honoree...which I suppose it was...but it was at a great cost to my friend and it was entirely unnecessary. I doubt that prior to the advent of this movie that many people would have this as a fun thing to do at a birthday party.

We all have hopes and dreams and for those of us fighting cancer, it is all too often that we realize that we have no control over whether or not we can fulfill them.  Then again, some dreams are best left as dreams, and unfulfilled 

My bucket list? is far too much like the smashed bucket hanging in the old barn at my parent's place. I can't figure out how it got there, and I don't know how long it will be there....but it hangs in the balance...


  1. I hate the concept...I really do.And I'm not suffering from anything deemed "terminal." Ugh

  2. Thanks, Thandi. It would seem to me that we should do what we can to live in such as way that we won't have many regrets...but aren't some things just left better on a wish list? :)

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