This is about the daily struggles and miracles of waiting to die with a critical illness. I have brain tumours that can never be cured. When I received my diagnosis I was given two weeks to live, but it has been eight years, and many treatments . My life is for a reason and until I accomplish that I will keep “painfully waiting”. This is my journey.
Over the Christmas holidays it was hard for me to really enjoy the company of my family while I was in so much pain. I was just so uncomfortable and I had a hard time expressing that I just wanted to hang out with them and enjoy being around my family and their children. Everyone was so full of life and it was so great to see.
The kids made me smile and the teenagers made me proud. They have grown so quick and are so mature. In one moment in my life (16 years ago) I am holding an infant child, kissing them and changing their diaper. Now they come give me a hug and are such big boys they tower over me. One thing I love about them is that they are gentle and loving all at the same time.
Instead of enjoying the wonderful company of my family 24 hours of the day I ended up in the hospital. But the real shocker was that my mother ended up in the hospital as well. As you all know she means a lot to me, and without her I would be lost!
The night we found out tumor tissue had been detected on one of my MRIs again I decided I had to stop talking about my bucket list and actually put my dreams into action. I was going to do whatever the doctors said, but I needed to be realistic, I was never going to get better. I could live another 8yrs for all I knew with my treatments, but my bucket list needed serious revisions. So I took out a pen and started crossing things off. Most of all I needed to focus on the dreams that took some physical activity and effort.
My list happens to have categories (people, places…), so of course the Travel category was almost completely deleted. An african safari, the Great Wall of China, the pyramids in Egypt, praying in Tibet, visiting a remote tropical island with real coconuts (I am Canadian remember, and no I do not live in a house made of ice). All these adventures were unrealistic. My “Things” category got annihilated as well since most of them required physical activity and travel; swimming around the coral reefs, hiking on the Galapagos Islands, and white water rafting in the Tatshenshini River. All unrealistic and items I had put on a “To Do” list when I was healthy.
That is when I realized one of my bucket list wishes could actually be obtainable. In fact I could book it on the upcoming Vegas trip I had planned for my mother on Mother’s Day (2011). I wanted to go on a real sunset horseback ride and I could totally do that in Vegas. So I booked a Red Rock Canyon Sunset Dinner Ride.
First off I want to know just how many of you love road trips? Oh how I used to love jumping in the car, with no destination in mind, and driving all over looking for the perfect (secret) picnic spot. Now a days, road trips are few and far between for me when I am so busy at the hospital. Not to mention it is almost impossible to get my mom to take time off work.
As I posted earlier we were camping this weekend, but due to floods in and around the area we decided to pack it in and go on a road trip instead. This road trip includes visiting my brother in Northern Alberta and would be my first since my Celiac diagnosis. So off we went today leaving the flooding and rain behind. So we thought…
I officially just could not handle another birthday week in, or at, the hospital. So my mom and I got in the ol’ camper van and off we drove. All I knew was that I really wanted to have a week with no doctor appointments or tests. I also longed to get away from the bright halogen lights that hum for hours on end during IV therapy every day. What I needed was to leave this lifeless city of concrete. I could not think of any better way to do this than to go camping in our beautiful backyard of British Columbia.
Many of you know I am a proud Canadian and I truly have always loved the outdoors. There is something absolutely majestic about sitting in a camping chair, with your feet in the water, looking out across the shore towards a skyline of mountains. You can close your eyes and listen to the crackle of the campfire as you inhale its intoxicating aroma. The scent hints that you still have to wait patiently for the flames to cook your dinner as the sun sets casting beautiful colors across the sky. I sit and just imagine the water with every wave across my feet washing away my illness and pain.
I decided I should start off with a cute Vegas “bucket list” story that hopefully will leave you smiling before I write about the hard week ahead. On this particular day Mom and I were sitting on a shuttle bus on the way to our room when we passed the MGM hotel and I looked up in shock at a huge banner. I pointed to this larger than life portrait of David Copperfield who was performing that weekend and I could not believe it. I have always wanted to see him perform but thought it was impossible. Mom smiled at me and said “You never know maybe we can get some tickets.” I of course laughed at the absurdity that we would find last minute tickets. Besides we were only there for a couple of days for a specific reason (which will be unveiled at a later time). I surely was not prepared for this extra excitement.
Before I realized it the hours flew by but it seemed like only minutes. Next thing I knew there I was standing with David Copperfield tickets in my hand that my mom just purchased. I felt like I needed someone to put life on pause while I tried to catch up. I could not believe my luck, good fortune, or just plain old divine intervention. I was going to go see one of my idols.
For those of you who personally know me you probably already have the pleasure of knowing my mother. I quite simply, and literally, would have already died many times if it were not for my mom. She is my sense of strength and courage as well as my source of compassion and love. She undoubtedly is my best friend. For this reason I wanted to do something special for my mother on mother’s day (2011)… I wanted to take her on a real vacation. This post is an introduction to some of the heart moving “bucket list” stories and adventures that I hope will leave you smiling.