Everyone Has Their Own List

1,000 Places to See Before You Die. That's the title of a book sitting on my shelf. Now, I got that before I got sick, but obviously it became a little more meaningful after my diagnosis. There's an ad campaign for a credit card too, listing 25 things you need to do before you die.

Climbing Mt. Everest seems to appear on these lists a lot. Well, I'm not doing that one. I'm not wild about heights. Or frostbite. I've seen a couple of really good documentaries on it, though. I'm hoping that counts. There are some great places in that book, and some fun things on the lists in the ads. But those lists always make me feel like I'm running out of time. That somewhere a big clock is ticking down, the way it did during college exams when you knew there was no way you were going to finish in time.

I don't think of life as a race. I don't think I'll finish higher if I can cross more things off the list than someone else. It's not like comparing times in a marathon. That's another thing I have no interest in, running a marathon. But I can blame that one on bad knees. That, and the fact that I hate running.

I count myself fortunate for having been able to travel much of the world. I've been to the source of the Nile. I've seen the Pyramids and the Great Wall and Red Square. But those aren't the milestones in my life. There are other things on my list. I remember a little boy in Rwanda, and trying to answer the question he asked with his eyes. Sharing a cup of hot chocolate with some of the best people I know on a frigid morning in the Iraqi desert.

Laughing at something that's really funny. Coming up with just the right line at just the right time. Shedding tears for the right reasons. Sending flowers for no reason at all. Giving someone the perfect present. Seeing the joy in someone else's eyes when they give you the perfect present. Sharing a special meal, savoring a good glass of wine. Letting the sound of waves take you away.

We all have our own lists. We judge our lives in our own ways, have our own definitions of success. There are still a lot of things I want to do before I die, but not very many of them are on those other lists.

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I like your list. :-) Joyce Smith

Sent by Joyce Smith | 7:19 AM | 6-19-2007

I hate those lists of what you need to do before you die. I like the list in a quote I'd always seen attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, but when I looked it up today I found out that's a misattribution. Regardless of who said it, I think it's a much better list:
http://www.cas.sc.edu/engl/emerson/Ephemera/Success.html

Sent by N.R. | 7:20 AM | 6-19-2007

Don't give up yet. There may still be time to create a very long list of what you've done.

Sent by Crawford | 7:20 AM | 6-19-2007

There is little more precious than sharing a piece of yourself with someone else..........

And to that extent.. you my Friend have been HUGELY SUCCESSFUL!

My new found "goal in life" is to finally help others to get through this horrendous journey of cancer by sharing of myself, much as you have lead the way on here Leroy.

I believe as long as I live my life with my three "p's" (persistence, perseverance and passion) I will have been successful and crossed off all the items necessary from my "list"

Sent by Ronald K. Bye | 7:34 AM | 6-19-2007

Keep that sense of humor. I have to keep a sense of humor or all of this would be too overwhelming for me to handle.

You're right: The really important things are not in that book.

Keep laughing :-)

Sent by Bruce in Florida | 7:37 AM | 6-19-2007

I'm sure that starting this blog was not on any list you could have imagined of things To Do! BUT God leads us in ways that we don't know we are being led and we, and others in this case, are so much better for it.

Yes, it would be terrific to visit and see the many wonders that this world has to offer. After seeing and photographing those, I would submit that it was something little perhaps seen as inconsequential at the time that made the trip so memorable such as an interaction with another person or a kindness experienced.

I do hope that you will get to visit many more places on your personal list. Always know that this blog, started as a way to capture and express your feelings as you make this journey, rises to the top of any list in making a tremendous difference in so many people's lives.

This blog and you,Leroy, have become our Great Wall, our Pyramids and our source of our Nile. A small and seemingly inconsequential idea has now become a source of hope, comfort and inspiration for all of us. Thank you.

Blessings and prayers as always.

A special prayer offered for Stephanie.

Sent by Al Cato | 7:42 AM | 6-19-2007

Hi Leroy,
I feel a clock ticking with RCC and as you put it so perfectly, "bracing for scans". I use to tell my husband sometimes, "it has been a great life even if it all ends today". After this grim cancer diagnosis, crying at the breakfast table one morning I told him that I had to still stick by my word that it has been a great life. I have never been bitter, but incredibly sad. I have adjusted some but still worry about leaving my family. I have always worked until getting sick - 40 plus years and always doing everything that I could for my family. We will be married 45 years in August. Husband 10 years older than me. I have taught him many things since cancer diagnosis. I feel better about him being alone now possibly. Leroy, I still feel encouraged about your progress. You have given so much to us. Your blog, along with comments have given me so much "peace".

Betty Lewis

Sent by Betty K. Lewis | 7:42 AM | 6-19-2007

It's funny that you mention lists, 1000 Places to See Before you Die, and the travels you've had in your life thus far..I have that book and look at it every chance I get...

I love that book, and watch the travel channel show, and actually went to the website this MORNING to get advice on my upcoming travels...

My residency training is nearing completion next week, followed by exams (sigh), and then my eventual travels that I told you about. I just wanted again to say thank you Leroy and fellow bloggers for giving me the advice that you did months ago... I will cherish it, and will always ask for more...and how we as physicians can become better...I took pictures of my department...as I'm feeling sad about the surroundings which hosted me for 5 years...

http://flickr.com/photos/chickpeas/sets/72157600384167779/

I know you said to keep you updated with my travels..and for that... (and for you especially Leroy).. i'm going to blog about it:

http://thewanderingnomad.blogspot.com

Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, India...and Galapagos Islands and other parts of S.America are on the schedule for you to accompany me on my trek...while I try to make 'sense of it all..

It's also ironic you mention hating running.. I ran a mile this morning.. hating every moment of it..my goal is to learn how to love it.. an evolution of sorts.

Life's successes are personal...as you stated above.. you hit it right on the head..as you usually do.

I hope and pray for you my friend (if I can call you that) dear Leroy... please let me know if there is anything I can do...you have given me a ton Mr. Sievers, and a lot of joy by letting me into your life and personal journey. Thank you for the milestone you made in my life.

Sent by Krupali Tejura MD | 8:13 AM | 6-19-2007

Dear Leroy, many curve balls are thrown at us , and life is full of twists and surprises. At this point in time I am very sad, angry, hurt, all mixed emotions. I don't have a hurt heart, not wounded, but truly broken. I say to myself that it's not fair that some people just sail through life and others have to bear these heavy burdens. I have become very bitter. I believe that grief can produce a tremendous amount of negativity in people. Living with cancer has changed my life. But you have helped me to overcome my fears through this blog. You have become my inspiration.

You made a comment on the Living with Cancer Discovery special. You said that you wondered if you made a difference, well yes you did. On your post today you said how fortunate you were to have traveled so many places and done so many wonderful things. But, I think that on the top of that list of achievements you can put this Blog in FIRST PLACE !

Please don't give up hope Leroy. There might be a rainbow at the end of this storm for all of us. Always in my prayers, Sasha

Sent by sasha | 8:25 AM | 6-19-2007

Wonderful post today, Leroy. It will remind me to be present as I spend the day today with Dad. A good reminder of one of my favorite quotes....it's the journey, not the destination. As I was sitting on my back deck last night, struggling with the loss of my Dad sometime soon, and a lovely, large dragonfly circled overhead several times before flying away....there are gifts everywhere as long as we are open to receiving them. Blessings to you today as you continue to think about those special moments on your list.

Sent by Karen | 8:29 AM | 6-19-2007

Your blog today, Leroy, reminds me of something I heard years ago that still stays with me and defines our lives, I think; endeavor to be a human being rather than a human doing. I honor who you ARE.

Sent by Leonard Adams | 8:33 AM | 6-19-2007

When I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer one year ago, I made a list of all the places I wanted to see. But over the year, I realized I've never been much of a traveler and seeing things around the world would be fun, yes, but the things I want are really right here. What I really want is a normal cancer free life- like it was before June of last year, but that's not going to happen. So second best is to have the best life I can right here. And that means being and doing things with my family and friends, working as best as I can and continuing with my life as closely to normal as I can.
I don't even look twice at those books anymore.
You have a great laugh and I bet you give perfect gifts.
Keep living your own life to your own definitions. You're great.

Sent by elm | 8:37 AM | 6-19-2007

there is no other place i would want to be but right here right now. surrounded by my beautiful cyber net friends , who give so much more to me than any book could!

Sent by marianne dalton | 8:45 AM | 6-19-2007

Dear Stephanie, I tired to send a post yesterday, but, unfortunately it did not go through. Just wanted to wish you a speedy recovery and let you know you are in my prayers. Sasha

Sent by sasha | 8:46 AM | 6-19-2007

Leroy
Your comments every day seem to reflect something I'm thinking. As I wait to leave for chemo this morning I was listening to my outdoor sounds and the prominent one was what must be a giant bullfrog croaking. How mindless, I wonder how important that is for him to do or if it's just cool making that noise. One thing I really liked doing in my life was building toboggan runs for my toddler and watching her fly off into the woods. (she's 26 now).

Sent by Cheryl McDowell | 8:57 AM | 6-19-2007

Leroy, your last two paragraphs describe for me the most important pieces of life. I couldn't pack a bag for a trip to Hawaii right now, let along suffer the journey. But, since my diagnosis June/2006, I have renewed some relationships with people that I had really not expected to come around. It was time anyway, so what if cancer was the catalyst. If all I have left in the end is the knowledge of the love and respect shown me, it will be enough.

At the moment I'm preparing for a visit from two old high school friends whom I have not seen in about 20 years. I feel so valued by their efforts to take this time for me. We won't talk much of treatments or death, but our lives will unfold and we will learn so much from each other. That's the kind of experiences I am looking for. Filled with the knowledge that my life has been well spent.

I don't have much in the way of treatment options either, especially if I stick to my original view of quality of life versus quantity. "In the end, it's not the years in your life, but the life in your years" (I don't know if that's Abraham Lincoln's quote, but it sound's like something he would've said).
I'm thinking of you everyday Leroy, and wishing you only the best.
Sincerely, Jill

Sent by Jill Schaudt | 8:59 AM | 6-19-2007

Leroy: This post, and the others you have done since you learned that the cancer is back are among your best. I wonder what there is in that to teach us.

I nodded when I read the words in your last paragraph: "We all have our own lists." It doesn't hurt to think of the things we each have on our individual list, and to try to spend each day doing something on that list. That makes certain that the days we have on this earth are full of importance and not wasted.

I also think that acceptance of our situations (that we are here only for a limited time....and for those of us with cancer, perhaps very limited) is NOT the absence of hope. It is NOT 'giving up'. Rather, it is a productive part of processing this whole experience. That can be very helpful indeed.

Dr. Tejura: Congratulations on completion of this important milestone. Finishing a 5 year residency is no small accomplishment! Bon Voyage. Good luck on those board certification exams (yuck). And thank you for sharing your blog site so we can keep up with you! We will enjoy your travels vicariously.

Sent by Sandra Shuler | 9:09 AM | 6-19-2007

I really appreciate your blog. Keep it coming.

For anyone interested in sharing their cancer story, there is a new book project you can check out called What Helped Get Me Through. The website is:

www.whathelpedgetmethrough.org

Check it out. Your experiences can help others dealing with this beastly disease.

Sent by Emily | 9:24 AM | 6-19-2007

Your personal list in the next-to-the-last para left my spirits singing. Of course it is the personal moments and dreams and encounters that we treasure the most. I hope you get to fulfill all your other priority wishes too, Leroy, and I wish the same for everyone reading this blog, and for all beings everywhere. One of the good things a serious health matter does is remind us to look at what we most want to tend, to do, to leave behind when we die. And it gives us a chance to stop deferring all of those things until "some day." Some day is now. The recollection of wonderful moments is nurturing. And I hope we all have the opportunity to add new memories today, and tomorrow, and the next day....

Sent by Sarah | 9:24 AM | 6-19-2007

Leroy,
I guess it's all about finding the meaning of being here. You have done so much and made such a great difference in your life. I hope you see that. Your sharing and honesty about your jarring ride is such a perfect example for all of us on this roller coaster.
Discovering you in the same week that I discovered my cancer had returned is a gift that can not be put in words.
I thank you and consider you my teacher. I look forward to learning so much more from you. I only hope I can give you something meaningful in return.

Sent by Laurel M. Jones | 9:29 AM | 6-19-2007

What makes you smile? What gives you joy? Those are the things I reflect on about my life; making friendships with strangers who turn out to become an important influence your life, laughing with friends, the sound of singing birds, etc. After diagnosis I think we all change our priorities and sometimes discover it's the small things that count. I hear you loud and clear Leroy, keep your heart open and your glass half full - don't drop it, no matter what!!

Sent by teri g. | 9:32 AM | 6-19-2007

What a wonderful post! They say to live every day as if it's your last. Of course most people don't because there's always a tomorrow. But I think the little daily things are what people will remember, not the out-of-the-world vacations. You have helped an enormous number of people with this blog and will always be remembered as kind and caring (and unfortunately empathetic). Good luck on your continuing journey - it's not over by a long shot!

Sent by Tammy | 9:47 AM | 6-19-2007

I had been avidly reading your blog after my mom was diagnosed with metastatic cancer in October (after 8 years of being "clean"), but stopped for a month or so during her final decline and recent death. So I was truly heartbroken to learn when I came back to you that your own cancer had recurred. And I was angry, too, because it seemed to me that you deserved a longer respite than what you got. I hope you will muster the spirit of Hawaii and continue to do those things on your list that are most important to you, be they big or small. My good wishes to you and your family.

Sent by Cheryl Rusten | 9:49 AM | 6-19-2007

I've been following your blog for a little while now. It felt good to read your list, as opposed to the others. I, too, am finding other things far more important than climbing Mount Everest. Like watching my 9 year old son play baseball. Or talking to my 'tween daughter about sex and other things I want her to learn about from me, not her peers. Explaining why prejudice and racism are unacceptable under any circumstance to all of my children. In other words, passing along the life lessons I want to be sure my children have an opportunity to learn from my point of view as well as their peers, their dad, their aunts and uncles. Because that's who will be teaching them if this grade iv kidney cancer decides to "pop up" again. Which it will at some point or another. So, while I hope that won't be until the little guy is all grown up, I need to know that I've passed along a few things just in case.

Thanks for writing so many things I have trouble putting into words.

Sent by Wendy | 9:49 AM | 6-19-2007

I have a list . . . it started with wonderful exotic locales but I quickly realized that while I might want and be able to take one or two big trips, the real things at the top of my list had to do with family.

So I wrote on my list that I wanted to see my son get married, and he was engaged within a month! And I didn't tell him -- didn't want to exert pressure.

Perhaps more amazingly I wrote that I wanted a couple more grandkids and my daughter found out she is pregnant only a week later.

Following your beautiful suggestion, I think that today I will send flowers to someone for no reason. Actually, there's a good reason, and that would be to say "I love you."

What else but love is there to put on the list?

Sent by jane | 9:55 AM | 6-19-2007

Hi Leroy, I loved the things on your list and I agree that someone else's list of where we sohould go in order to be fulilled is nonsense. If a list is important to an individual then it is pointless.

I am now in my second week of radiation. What struck me the first time I got on the table and was sliding into the machine for my radiation was how like a jet engine it sounds. So, each day while I am getting my pre-rad CAT scan I decide where I am going to go during my treatment. Frequently I return to someplace that I have especially enjoyed; Spain, Portugal, Maine, Vermont. Sometimes I go to places I have never been but have read about or seen on maps. These little journeys help me relax during my treatment. My shoulders are no long stiff and glued against the mask in utter fear. I am no longer breathng a mile a minute until its over.

My husband and I love to travel. We are map junkies and use those and books to plan extensively. Even if we never get to the places we look at our maps we will have enjoyed our time together looking and reading about the places that interest us. Our next trip is Northern Spain next Spring from Barcelona to Basque country then to Santiago. It is the goal we have set to celebrate my post cancer treatment era.

Thank you, Leroy, each time I read your blog I am given a new perspective and something worth thinking about. dww

Sent by Daria Wilber | 9:59 AM | 6-19-2007

As you do on so many mornings, Leroy, you nailed it for me again this morning. I, too, got a gift from a dear friend in January (just one month before my diagnosis) called 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.
I have been eying that tome with suspicion ever since. Clearly, that "gift" was a premonition of what I was about to be challenged with.

But what rang so true in your journal entry this morning was your wonderful observation about what my heart's list would include. Not necessarily books to read or even places to go...but much loved people to be with and memories, meals and laughter to share with those much beloved people. If that can happen in Venice, Italy or Venice, California so much the better. But, wherever it happens it's magic. Thanks for yet again getting to the heart of what's important, my friend. Fondly, Anita

Sent by Anita Solomon | 10:00 AM | 6-19-2007

wow....best blog yet.

Sent by zach bean | 10:02 AM | 6-19-2007

Leroy

The world would be such a better place, if everyone would just embrace a meaningful list like yours

Emile

Sent by Emile | 10:12 AM | 6-19-2007

Great post from you Al ... Leroy, you bring to light the every day living we take for granted. How precious it is! Pat Z.

Sent by Pat Zalewski | 10:16 AM | 6-19-2007

Leroy, You've helped me tremendously by your words and also by listening to all the others on this blog, made possible by you. You are a wonderful human being!

Sent by Ruth White | 10:19 AM | 6-19-2007

Good morning all,

I wonder what my sister has or had on her list before she received her diagnosis, I never asked her. I remember the day we found out, my brain was already spinning to March 2006, it was almost Thanksgiving 2005, I had just paid the deposit for a trip to Hawaii. I suppose it was selfish of me, I said on the way home, you know, I am suppose to be going to Hawaii in March.

We don't know the time we have, there is so much of life to experience, it almost seems silly to waste it at work. Of course, unless we are independently wealthy or someone else or somehow we could pay for our wishes or dreams we have to work.

My mom had a condition, I nicknamed the "dwindles." It wasn't cancer, or heart, it was getting older, having many medical problems, and just being in pain from arthritis almost constantly. I kept putting goals out in front for her, my graduation from PA school, receiving my certification, my first PA job. I sort of blamed myself when she did die (although 2 months earlier she told me she was ready to die), because I didn't have goal for her shot for. I know it wasn't true, I did the same thing for my sister, put those small carrots out there for her to reach. They were not always gentle nudges either, but they worked.

Keep reaching for goals until you can't anymore, it is very human to do that.

Sent by Susan Chap | 10:39 AM | 6-19-2007

Dear Leroy, I was totally surprised that after my diagnosis the simple everyday things were what comforted me most. I had always thought that if someone told me I was going to die that I wouldn't wash another dish or mop another floor. Surprise, surprise. I found that there was nothing I'd rather be doing than living my ordinary life doing mundane things. I will say that now when I stand at my sink I notice the butterflies outside on the flowers, the sweet stillness of the early mornings, and a myriad of details that I was moving too fast to notice before. Not that I wouldn't enjoy a trip to Hawaii or some other tropical paradise, but right here with good friends, loving family, and
familiar surroundings gives me peace.

Sent by Patricia | 10:40 AM | 6-19-2007

My sister, "Lee" Seleck, died from breast cancer on June 2 2006. The 1st anniversary of her death was last week. My sister was diagnosed almost nine years before her death. She never thought of herself as a victim of cancer. So here is what I learned from my wonderful loving younger sister. I learned how to really live in the moment. I learned that living in the moment is "what do I have to do right now at this time?" and to appreciate and to cherish each moment. She once told me that she never forgot that she had cancer, but she never dwelled on it either.
My sister also taught me to see humor in everything-she was never afraid to laugh, at herself, her family and life. My sister was not able to complete her list of the "things she wanted to do before you die", but she did love the journey and she allowed me to share that journey.

Sent by Fern Malowitz | 10:52 AM | 6-19-2007

You are an amazing person!

Sent by Karen D. | 11:12 AM | 6-19-2007

I look forward to what you have to say each time but today was especially good! Thanks so much for sharing from the heart. I will sent this to several special people. Take care. Nancy

Sent by Nancy Elzinga | 11:13 AM | 6-19-2007

Topping my had to do one thing "LIST" was a week in Seattle with my OSU daughter Mindi Davis Designer/Artist - Blankspaceseattle.com and Art Gallery creator. She gave me "Tuesdays with Morrie" to read on the plane. It was the best week of my life.

For Fathers Day she sent me "Hope for Flowers" for those who seek "MORE" out of life.

April 5th I had a triple by pass and she got me a signed copy of "Change or Die".

April 30th diagnosed Esophageal cancer, had already spread to liver. Started chemo 6-18.

Mindi sent me your blog "My Cancer" and you have been a wonderful and great help for me. I wish I could personally THANK YOU!!

She finds these wonderful helpful readings that apply to me specificly and at the right time. Love and god must be leading her. Love Ya All!

Richard

Sent by Richard Davis | 11:28 AM | 6-19-2007

While reading, I started out smiling, and then chuckling out loud, and then laughing out loud (I never got into the running or climbing thing either and I freeze when the temp drops below 75), and then crying. But I love "Climb Every Mountain" from the Sound of Music. I never go anywhere. I live vicarioiusly through people I know who travel. (Last week "we" went to Washington, D.C., Gettysburg, two buildings at the Smithsonian.) I lived through your fond/not so fond travel moments, too, if only for a moment or two. Thanks! Loved it!

Sent by Pamela in Vegas | 11:34 AM | 6-19-2007

To Dr. Tejura: You are going to have an unseen companion with you all the way. Me. I have always wanted to travel but responsibilities and lack of money prevented it. Now I want to see the world and I shall. Through your eyes and your blog.

Thank you so very much You have made me extremely happy this morning. I look forward to seeing all the places you plan to visit that I could never visit on my own and have bookmarked your site for future enjoyment.

Brenda Y. Lynch

PS: Could you manage to get to the Greek Isles for me? And congratulations on finishing your residency.

Sent by Brenda Lynch | 11:42 AM | 6-19-2007

Leroy,
I used to follow those list religiously, adding them to my own personal "to do" list. When I found out I had cancer in December, my priorities changed...A LOT! Now I appreciate the smiles on my children's faces, the feel of their small hands in mine, and the love I see on my husbands face. We laugh more now despite my illness. We also spend more time together doing family things. So I guess the bottom line is, yes, I would love to travel the world and see exotic places but for right now I am thankful at the end of each day that my wonderful family is together. Hang in there you are an inspiration to all of us!

Sent by Suzanne | 12:12 PM | 6-19-2007

beautifully said, as usual. You are a treasure

Sent by claudia | 12:26 PM | 6-19-2007

Dear Leroy, I am 27 years old and have been facing cancer for over 1 year now. I have a rare ovarian cancer called carcinosarcoma. Anyhow everyday I read your blog and everyday it as though you have climbed into my mind sorted out my thoughts and wrote them down. I would like to thank you for that. I too am reoccuring in my spine, I think I will have radiation, I see the radiation oncologist on June 25 at Tom Baker in Calgary. I watched your show on discovery and I sat and nodded throughout, someone finally understands. When I see those "1000 places to see before you die" books I usually sniker to myself and remind myself I will not see them, but then I think I probably never wanted to in the first place. Anyhow I would love to go to Mayan Riveria and lay on the beach, but that one I will have to wait for. I always wanted to go to Italy and Greece but I am not to leave Canada on Doctors orders.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR WORDS you will never know how much you've helped me.

Sent by Stephanie Chisholm | 12:34 PM | 6-19-2007

Leroy,
I'm an avid runner who has only completed one marathon. In that life, the marathon was a significant goal and it gave my life purpose in a way...a carrot, something to work toward. That was my old life--b.c. (before cancer). Thinking back on it, I feel guilty and selfish for spending so much time training when I could have been spending it with the people I love, letting them know how much they mean to me. But that's water under the bridge.

I often ponder what message I want my friends to gleen from my cancer experience, and I think part of it is to treasure every day and to know that in the end, it isn't the things in life that are important, but the relationships we have with people. It sounds like such a trite cliche, except to those of us who are walking down this life with cancer. I also want to ask friends about their thoughts about religion and if they believe in God. I never felt comfortable asking before.

I also want my friends to learn something positive from my less than positive experience with cancer and health insurance. Take out the extra cancer policy!
Thank you for sharing your life with us through this site and God Bless!

Sent by Norma H. | 12:43 PM | 6-19-2007

My lists are getting shorter. No more treatments and "Lurch" my liver is my growing sidekick. One thing I try for every day: that "perfect moment". The one when something happens in total balance with the rest of the day: a beautiful cloud formation, a tiny hummingbird in flight. It is on my list to find that "perfect moment" each day I am still alive.

Sent by Sally | 1:08 PM | 6-19-2007

First I would like to thank everyone for their kind words, prayers and thoughts. I talked to Nancy Clark (yes, OUR Nancy) and it was invaluable. She reminded me that while it may feel that my life is out of control and that I have power over nothing, I am not without resources and some control. She encouraged me to take my pain meds (it felt like too much work and effort to do so yesterday) to stay on top of my pain, and to breathe deeply. Thank you, Nancy, for your thoughtfulness and real practical assistance. I was feeling quite low yesterday and you all helped pull me back to the land of the living, which is where I belong until I no longer do!

It may sound hokey to some of you, but Nancy is right that when you are paying attention to breathing in and out, you can't focus on worrying about your fate. That is a bit of a simplistic way to describe it, but I found it very useful last night at 3 when I found myself awake.

And, Leroy, yes, cancer sure has changed my list. I still make lists, and then I throw them out and start again. Back when we made the special, I was big on sorting out 35 years of life. Now, I could care less. Why would I waste my precious time and energy on that when I have people around me I want to love, play with, talk to, cry with?

Sent by Stephanie Dornbrook | 1:17 PM | 6-19-2007

I don't have any big things on my list, just the small things like you said Leroy. To watch the birds in the morning from my lanai, to see the family and friends that I love, to go to the beach and picnic with my husband, to be the best person I can be as God wants us to be. That's my list no matter how much time there is left. THings have crept up on me when I thought there was plenty of time. I was never afraid nor thought about dying but now it seems like more of a possibility. Please keep your blog as long as you are able and maybe have it published because your words are valuable and haved helped many people - just look and see more and more are writing daily. Love and prayers to you all.

Sent by Vicki (FL) | 2:04 PM | 6-19-2007

I know some of the things on my Mom's list that she wanted to see/do before she died (Stage IV Breast Cancer when diagnosed). Though I'm sure there were places she would have loved to travel, she was able to teach me to cook (I didn't realize until after she died that she was purposely teaching me), see me graduate with my Master's and my brother graduate with his law degree, see my brother pass the bar, and have one last family Thanksgiving. I'm sure she would have loved to see us both get married and have children, but hopefully she's looking down on us and can see that. Not the same but comforting. It definitely has shaped how I live my life with my husband and children.

Sent by SA | 2:49 PM | 6-19-2007

Our beautiful daughter will be graduating from high school this Friday night and I haven't told her the results of my May CT scans (mets to lymphnodes in chest/lung and lesion on liver is larger) but have been going through so many of my things - sorting and cleaning. Today she was helping me sort through stationary items in one of my desks and made a comment about all of my recent cleaning. I just about cried. I want her to get through her Senior year without worries about my health hanging over her. I've been helping her prepare for her first year at our local community college and she's also going to be involved in a Ballet school in our area - she's a beautiful dancer and I'm hoping to be here to see her in The Nutcracker ballet this Christmas!

I was able to attend and enjoy my grandson's end of year picnic with his Pre-K class last week!

When I was dx with Br Ca in 2000 one of my prayers was that I'd live to become a grandmother. Grandson was born in 2002 and Granddaughter in 2003 - two beautiful healthy children. So then it was I wanted enough time to see him in his first school program - he was the star of the pre-k's Christmas program! :-) But now, I want to see him play his first T ball or soccer game - is that being greedy? I want to see my granddaughter in her first dance recital! Etc!

Sent by Vicky (NY) | 2:51 PM | 6-19-2007

Leroy, you don`t have to travel or do 1000 things before you die to feel you`ve left a mark in this world. You have all ready done that so many times over. By creating this blog, you have given so many people, survivors, caregivers, etc, insight and a profound gift of what it is like living with this disease. Thank You, Judy

Sent by Judy Kolbaba | 3:01 PM | 6-19-2007

Leroy, you have become a friend to all. In the time you have had this blog many of us have loved and lost. Having the satisfaction of living and doing more things than most people will ever do is quite an accomplishment. Let us all look to what we have done. The glass can still be half full if you want it to be. Cancer can't take that away from us. Lets make a list of the things Cancer can not do!! Cancer has touched my loved ones in 3 different people this last 12 months. I've lost 2 of these. Be brave and confident that what ever choice you make will be the right one. It has to be anyway, because it is your own choice.We love you and your family.

Sent by Leah | 3:07 PM | 6-19-2007

I would just like to say that the resilience and compassion in these postings from both the writer and the readers always touches my heart, but especially today. May you all have the chance to cross something off of your respective list (or two, or three, or four...)
xoxo

Reese

Sent by Reese | 3:18 PM | 6-19-2007

Leroy,
What you are talking about relates to the enjoyment of the smaller more personal connections in life, and stopping to smell the flowers.
After my diagnosis, I realized that these are the important things for me in this life, and I believe that we should all try to appreciate these tiny little moments, these gifts and treasures, every day regardless of our health status.
Love your priorities!

Sent by Maggie | 3:25 PM | 6-19-2007

The older you get, the longer the list gets.

Sent by Liz Lewis | 4:26 PM | 6-19-2007

Leroy,
You make a difference in a life-affirming way everyday. Thank you. I feel sorrow for where the disease is taking you. There are tears in my heart for you. The place you are in is a very hard place. Thank you for taking the time in your day to write and post your blogs. My therapist sat beside me on Thursday, and held my hand as I sobbed unconsolably. It helped that she did that for me. If I could sit beside you and hold your hand while you cry, I would.
You are in my prayers, and the heartlight is still on.
Sincerely,
Kim B.

Sent by Kim Blankenship | 4:46 PM | 6-19-2007

We really need either a live chat room or a channel on IRC where we can just drop in and chat when we need to. This place is *so* vital to so many of us now.

Stephanie--I'm holding you in my prayers. I'm not especially religious but I'd describe myself as very "spiritual." And one of my best friends is a nun, so she's got a direct line to god ;-)

That can't hurt.

Today has been tough...I was already feeling kind of fragile when I found out that two good friends from high school have cancer. One's pancreatic and sounds a great deal like Stephanie, the other is a brain tumor that's not even reachable with the gamma knife procedure. Not sure what kind of CA it is, glioblastoma or what. I was a bit in shock. She's the same age as me (42) and won't live to see her little boy grow up.

They've both been told to get their affairs in order. I'm so very angry for all of us, patients and caregivers alike.

Like I said before, it's just all so arbitrary and pointless. And even though some part of me feels like I don't have the right to post here any more (since I'm beyond the death and therefore am on a different journey) I still count you all as family, and support. Because you know what I'm saying and I don't have to explain. That's a rare gift.

Thank you all.

Sent by Bruce | 4:49 PM | 6-19-2007

Leroy,

My list is very close to your list and they both have to do with love, compassion, sensitivity, and caring. I hope I have some of these; you have a lot.

I resonate so much with the things you find valuable. Thanks for sharing them with us!

Sent by Diana Kitch | 5:06 PM | 6-19-2007

Being diagnosed with 3C ovarian cancer in March 2006 made discovering your magnificent blog in March 2007, dear friend Leroy (may I call you that?), the gift that has kept on giving. Cancerwise, you and I are at the same fork in the road, except I have your commentary from which to draw strength. Thank you for holding my hand, and I'd like to think that, in return, I hold yours.

Today, Norma H. wrote: "I also want to ask friends about their thoughts about religion and if they believe in God. I never felt comfortable asking before." Well, Norma, I've never felt comfortable saying before, but, I don't think I do believe in god. I think it is wonderful that others find their god gives them strength and comfort, and encourage them to hold on to their beliefs. However, I find that I cope with my situation so much better since I'm freed from, in my opinion, so many confusing and negative emotions that organized religions foster upon their follwers. Hope this opinion helps you find what you are looking for.

Sent by Betty M. Pratt | 5:51 PM | 6-19-2007

I know that cancer at first strikes fear in our hearts, then settles in for the long hall as a constant overshadowing worry. The challenge is to get beyond that shadow and live. Here's what Jackie Kennedy Onassis said:
"Happiness is not where you think you'll find it. I'm determined not to worry. So many people poison one day with worry about the next."
I try to remember those words and not lose one day to fear about the next. Doctors who care and a God who loves you dearly will never allow you to have days that you cannot bear.

Sent by Laura | 6:30 PM | 6-19-2007

Norma H - I am a believer and draw much strength and comfort and peace from my faith. I haven't felt the "confusing and negative emotions" that Betty mentions and I'm sorry that has been her experience.

That doesn't mean I do not struggle because lately I'm struggling alot! I'm just very weary and very tired and very sad.

I read a quote the other day about the importance of our lives being written on the hearts of those we love rather than worrying about our name engraved on a stone. I don't like having to wonder when I can no longer write on the hearts of my husband, children and grandchildren and yet in spite of all of that I trust in Him.

Sent by Vicky | 9:21 PM | 6-19-2007

LeRoy, I think I??ll make that list you are talking about and I don??t even have cancer (yet) My sister just got diagnosed with breast cancer on Friday, my other sister got it 2 years ago and my mother had it too. Your comments come at a very appropriate time for us as we search for what it really means to live!

Sent by Laurie de Gonz??lez | 9:22 PM | 6-19-2007

Dear LeRoy and Friends,

I want to be remembered for bringing a smile to the face that only knew sadness, brought song to a heart that was heavy with fear, and succeeded in making a difference in the life of one person and shared with them that part of my spirit to let them know they were important, their presence in my life mattered to me and to others, and they will always occupy an important place in our hearts.
I want to know, because I was here, I made a difference, and for that, my spirit will live on long beyond my passing. I hope there has been one action, one deed that made an impact to warrant living in the memory of one person whose life was changed for the better and brought light to the life of one who needed it.
To me, this would give my life real value, and I can rest in peace knowing I succeeded in giving the gift of hope.

Love, Briana

Sent by briana | 10:41 PM | 6-19-2007

Leroy:

I have been reading your blog since seeing the special with Ted Koppel. I am amazed each day by your writings and your ability to share with all of us your thoughts; both highs and lows.

As you well know, from past experience,
the choices you have in front of you are certainly not those you would like to be considering. As you say you are a special case. For that reason, it is probably most important to remember that the doctors cannot possibly know what your response to any of the therapies could be; while your response could be as "expected" it may also be better than "expected". HOPE is always eternal and will always keep us going. Though I am a logical thinker, there are times that logic and reason just don't have any place in our lives...faith and hope must be our guiding light.

Know that you will be in my prayers as you try to determine the path that you should take. I will also pray that you and your family will have the opportunity to make many, many more choices and enjoy many more mornings together.

Sent by Cindy Sivula | 10:52 PM | 6-19-2007

Leroy, I sense an ominous tone in your writing today. Forgive the paraphrasing, "All it takes for casncer to succeed, is for good men to do nothing." We all must do the most we can tolerate. You are not there yet. Who knows, you may complete your list easily before that day comes. I don't like to think about all the things I may not be able to do before I die. I don't care for lists of that type. I prefer to think about the wonderful, simple times with family and friends. A spur of the moment vacation. Dreaming! Plaese don't start making checks off on a list. A person's life is so much more than that. With you every step of the way, Stan

Sent by Stan Wozniak | 1:59 AM | 6-20-2007

This idea of a list makes me think of the Sopranos ending, which you had talked of before.
We all write the script of our own lives as best we can. The Sopranos writers ended the series with the same steady tempo and style we came to know. No big gun battles. No over-the-top drama.
I've had a great life so far. I'd like to extend it, but when the screen goes black, onion rings and Journey will be just fine.

Sent by Scott Fertig | 2:44 AM | 6-20-2007

Your writings are how I would like to express myself. They are my feelings. I was diagnosed 3 years ago and have been on chemo ever since. Started a new one this week, I feel comfort from you. God bless you on your journey.

Sent by VICKI | 3:49 PM | 6-20-2007

Leroy,
I don't have cancer, but this entry really spoke to me. I forwarded it on to those I love to let them know they are on my list!
Thanks for helping me think about those things that are really important in life!
Thinking of you & I say a prayer to Buddha for you each time I pass the temple!!
Becky (still in HK)

Sent by Becky Hubbell | 3:46 AM | 6-23-2007

If it's not already in progress, you should develop your Blog in to a book. You are a great source of inspiration to those of us living our lives with cancer. I look forward to reading your Blog every morning and feel grateful for the gift you provide to me each day.

Sent by Marian | 7:06 PM | 6-24-2007

Love your blog, but this post is an all-time favorite. Everyone needs to read this.

Thank you.

Sent by Deirdre | 9:13 PM | 7-2-2007

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