Sunday, January 15, 2017

Melanoma Bucket List?????

A question of bucket lists.... Do you have one?  What does it contain?....was recently posed on one of the melanoma forums I participate in.  I told myself... "I ain't got time for dat!" as I moved on, replying where I thought I might do some good.  But....

...the question kept coming back to me.  Most responses were along the lines of enjoying each day, appreciating their friends and loved ones....but there were a few things like a long motor bike ride, etc...that would be fun to fit in as well.  Nobody really wanted to climb Mt Everest.  Maybe having melanoma makes you too tired...or gives you good sense!  A dear one of mine mentioned that she had had a busy and productive life that included travel, learning many languages, work toward accomplishment and now, she was sort of relieved to be done with that and just wanted to enjoy the simple things...concluding: "I thought, what use is all the knowledge?  It all dies with you.  I guess when it comes to that stage you have to be happy with what you have aspired to and be ready to be at peace that the world will keep turning and that's as it should be." 

That part...kept haunting me.  It's not that I disagree with it.  If we are wise, we all accept our minute part in a huge world, making no more or less of it than it is.  Very Max Erhmann's  Desiderata and all...

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the tress and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

But the niggling continued.  I remembered, just after advancing to Stage IV, post lung removal and SRS to my brain, finding it very hard to find a reason to finish a book on Thomas Cromwell (still not sure that there IS really any definitive reason to do that!!!).....and I wrote this:

June 2, 2010  What to do....

Saw my pulmonologist today (Have now officially seen all docs in follow-up!). He thought I sounded great. Cough is getting better. Will have repeat PFT's at the end of this month with ABG's. Really tired of being poked but - OK. Doesn't need to see me again until Dec unless there are problems. The donkey {aka Bentie on edge} wigged him out a bit. When asked if there was anything concerning us, Brent unleashed with, "Yeah, I don't want to wait for the other shoe to drop before she has any other treatment." This momentarily unnerved the normally reserved yet cheerful Indian mystique my pulmonologist is cloaked in, but he's known Brent for a long time and soon realized this was just anxiety not a real desire for additional treatment at this time. {Well, there IS real desire for melanoma treatment at this time...but there isn't any...none at least that my pulmonologist can} Tried to get my last labs from Lab Corp, may they rot, but, "No. We don't give results to patients." Let's see. They took my blood. Made me sign on the dotted line that they could bill me, my insurance, took a credit get the picture, but, "No, they couldn't give me the results" of the labs I had last week that took them two sticks to draw.

At any rate, what does one do with time off and cancer?

Well..... At first, reading was not an option. I mean, who cares about finishing a book about Thomas Cromwell if you might be dead in a couple of weeks. But, you live, so then what? I mean we all enter the dead zone at some point. It is something I've thought about...hard...for the third time.  And, each time, I ended up with the same answer. I finished the book. Have read three more since. I'm working hard at getting physically stronger. Which, by the way, is getting better slowly. On Sun and Mon, I ran {aka - jogged slowly and laboriously} on my regular 2 mile route except for walking up my big hill. Which to those of you who don't IS REALLY big!!! Today, I did some house cleaning and yard stuff and decided that was enough. Other days I've been doing my 15 min elliptical routine.

So...after reading and exercise, of course I spend time with my man and my critters. Fred and Rose have held my heart in there sticky little hands for 20/18 years now. And Brent, happened to tell me today, that he has been looking (leering) at my legs for almost 27. They see the "colors in me, like no one else" and I in them. Although, they are all TRULY wonderful. So, it is a real gift to spend extra time with each of them.

After that, I have crocheted three afghans (close your eyes, Ruthie!!). Worked on cooking some special meals. Caught up reading all my medical journals. Plan to do some study of Spanish and pediatrics. I am, at least, really grateful that I am not having to do 2 semesters of a master's PNP program in one in the upcoming months!!!

So....I made this choice a couple times before...move forward...even if it seems crazy...and people certainly look at me as though I'm crazy. But, hey!  It bought me 7 years. We'll see what happens this time...

I gained entry into my Nivo/Opdivo trial in December of that year.  I guess over the past 6 1/2 years - (Just noticed - on writing the post above, I was almost the same interval past my initial melanoma diagnosis!) getting through a Phase 1 trial, years of working as a PNP, years of being allowed the incredible opportunity to see my children grow into amazing view hasn't changed much. I think afghans are good.  Special meals are fun.  Exercise is still important and houses and yards still require care.

I think my dear friend and Max Ehrmann are both right.  We are foolish if we think we are essential to the world going round.  I think there may well be an appropriate time to be in pursuit of many things and a time to slow down.  But!  I do NOT think that all our efforts, education attained, skills developed....die with us.  IF!!!!!  (No greater word by tongue or pen!)  IF!!!!! - we pass them on.  I crochet because my Granny taught me how.  Though she passed when I was pregnant with my daughter....she lives on in me and in every person who has enjoyed an afghan I made them.  I laugh every time I think of that ridiculous show with the Urkel character, because I sat with B's dad, before he passed, and laughed with HIM!  Easter is forever changed for me because for many years I shared it (and untold other precious moments) with a special little girl, who, though she is gone, lives in me still.

So, I guess all this is to say.... My bucket list is:  Pass it on.  Whatever it is that I am, that I know, that I can give....I want to pass it on.

Thanks to all of you, who have given so much of yourselves to me. - love, c


  1. Look down! Can you see me in the bottom of your bucket? I'll always be there.

  2. Yes! There are bucket lists and then, there are bucket lists! Ya gotta pick the right bucket. ;)