I’m writing today from the chemo clinic at Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre. They have me plugged in to the IV drips and the poisons are flowing. This is the sixth round of chemo and I thought it might be the last. My oncologist told me yesterday there will be at least 6 more. Three more months of chemo brain and getting my ass whipped at Scrabble.
She also told me that, depending on the opinion of the liver surgeon in two weeks, we may be dealing with an indefinite period of chemo treatments. Lovely.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. If the chemo isn’t working sufficiently to allow the liver surgery, then what would be the point of continuing? Unfortunately the oncologist I have doesn’t like answering questions like that one. Or like any other for that matter. At least she is talking long term treatment. That’s got to be a sign that I have entered the realm of the 5%; those that live past 2 years with this particular cancer.
My sister, Dr. Shirley, called me a few mornings back to remind me that I have always been in the 95th percentile in everything I’ve done. I wish I could say she was right. I can agree that I am often in the top 5% when I have control of the circumstances. There have been situations beyond my skills, abilities and control. There have been disappointments. There has been sadness. In this case, I am determined to prove her opinion correct.
Having something to do helps me stay positive. The most difficult part of the last eight months has been the idleness. Being unable to work has made it difficult to stay generally motivated. Exercise, paperwork, communication and social interaction all suffer. I have desperately needed something to motivate me; a cause to get behind and perform for in that 95th percentile.
This blog has kept me from sinking entirely into cancer patient limbo, but it hasn’t given me the same rewards as accomplishing something more concrete. Writing has always been my refuge and solace. Creativity feeds my soul. I’ve needed something to feed my life.
I know very intimately why so many cancer survivors dedicate their lives to helping others, organizing fundraisers, supporting research and generally continuing the battle well past their own personal win. Cancer gets a grip on your life and your consciousness. It becomes such a force in your life that other endeavors pale in importance.
Like so many others who walked, ran or wheeled my path, I have found the cause that will drive my life as a survivor. I have found a cause. In a burst of prototypical cancer patient epiphany I saw the light. OK, I exaggerate. But I did stumble across a really good idea. With your help I can make it a reality.
I was discussing my treatment and experiences with a friend who was having some difficulty knowing what to say. I could tell he was uncomfortable and feeling inadequate in his contribution to the conversation. I told him about the young employee of mine who’s response to the news of my illness was, “What’s on your bucket list?”
“What is on your bucket list?” my friend asked.
“I can’t afford a bucket” I said.
“There should be some kind of Make-A-Wish for adults” he replied
That was it! All in a matter of seconds a flood of thoughts took me and shook me. Cancer wreaks havoc on a family financially. Even in Canada where we think our socialized medical system protects us from it, financial disaster lurks. While monthly expenses not covered by our excellent medical coverage increase, the family income is slashed as the patient becomes unable to work. All of those “someday” dreams are suddenly far beyond reach.
Remember the movie that popularized the term “bucket list”? You won’t find any reference in that wonderful script to the outrageous amount of money those two would have needed to accomplish everything that they did. The cost of travel insurance alone keeps most of us at home.
There needs to be an organization that removes those barriers and makes those dreams possible again. A Bucket List Foundation!
A few days of research convinced me that there are very compelling reasons such a Foundation is needed. Palliative care specialists, psychiatrists and other medical experts agree that attaining life dreams and bucket list goals enhances a patient’s outlook, general well-being and renews the desire to succeed in treatment. We all know that staying positive is a big part of the battle against life threatening illness.
So the Canadian Bucket List Foundation is born! The first of its kind in Canada, that I know of. I have found our first members of our board of directors in two distinguished medical doctors, an educator, a nurse and a travel specialist. Our first volunteers have responded to an invitation to become involved. You can tell we exist because we have a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CanadianBucketListFoundation/
We have referrals to major funding organizations who are available to us once the Foundation is officially established. We have begun to raise the funds to facilitate that goal.
Our crowdfunding campaign, https://www.gofundme.com/g3t3tdxu has launched to raise the money to register as a charitable foundation, build a proper and functional website and coordinate our first volunteers. The support, “retweets”, “shares” and “likes” have been gratifying and prove we are on the right track with a great idea.
This project is the one thing on my bucket list and I need your help to make it happen. So all you bloggers, Tweeters and social media influencers with Canadian followers take a little time to get the word out. Then drop a few dollars at gofundme. Together we can make a real difference. You know we can.