“Living each day as if it was your last suddenly becomes so much truer as you approach your last. Under a year ago I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. You’re life changes for the worst as you fully realize you don’t live for ever and every breath brings you nearer to death. At first I counted down each day even though it sounds morbid to my supposed expiration date. I quit my job, I took my savings and planned the last of my adventures.
Throughout my entire life I always had a bucket list. Day in and day out I would collect things to do before I went. On the list, I put skydiving, rock climbing, traveling abroad and so much more. My thought process was that I would have a bunch of time to do whatever I wanted on the list. I never realized their would come a time in which I would have to pick between one item and the other. Suddenly the bucket list became so much more than a list of things I wanted to do but instead a checklist of everything I needed to do. No matter how small it was on the list I did it, no matter how big it was on the list I did it. From going to eat at a fancy restaurant to traveling to going to India to experience the difference of their lifestyles to ours, I did them all faithfully starting at the end of the list and going to the beginning. I got to experience so many new and exciting things for awhile it took my mind off my situation and I just lived freely with nothing holding back. In a weird way it was great, to go into each day with no responsibilities and instead do what you want to do. The bucket list did it’s job to distract me from my untimely demise for awhile until the pages started getting pulled from the calendar and my symptoms starting worsening.
I went from feeling fine to coughing blood to being so fatigued I could barely move in what seemed like an instantaneous moment. I didn’t let that deter me from my bucket list though, I got my parents to stroll me with my ventilator and my gadgets from place to place. I couldn’t thank them enough not just for the assistance in making my way through my bucket list but for everything they done before that from looking after me as a kid to help paying for my expenses. I realized that all of this wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for them. So I drafted a will leaving everything I owned to them.
It felt weird as I approached the last few items on my list. But even though they were easier it took so much longer to do them since I was began to go into spurs of complete sickness where I could not move from my bed and had pain from head to toe. But still I lasted and worked on the list as the days lasted longer but brought closer a period of uncertainty. After all the time I spent working on making it through the list I grew focused on one line at a time so when I got to my list item it surprised me.
“Fall in love” was the last thing on the list. When I saw it I almost lost it due to my last item being impossible to accomplish with a small amount of time. I had to think that this was just a list and had no significance. But as I sit here in my hospital bed I could not let it go so I had a friend transcribe everything I’ve said so far. I had a realization. I completed the final item on the list. I fell in love with life, I fell in love with my friends who stayed with me to the end, I fell in love with family who showed their support, I fell in love with strangers who showed empathy in the smallest ways. I fell in love with every single person who at some point helped no matter how big, no matter how small. I love you.”