Bucket lists

Tomorrow is my 49th b’day. Time to reflect on where I’ve been and what lies ahead.

When cancer came knocking on my door at age 29, I wasn’t sure I’d be around twenty years later. So much has happened.

The love of my life, Bruce, stuck by me through cancer then (and again, when it reared its ugly head in my 40th year). When we got married, my hair had just returned in full from chemo–wavy and darker than before. Both features quickly faded–waves to straight locks and darker hair to a dull blondish-gray. Little else from the experience of cancer has faded, but with Bruce’s support, I’ve continued moving forward.

We have two beautiful daughters. Celia is 14 and a freshman in high school. Helena is a sixth grader, age 11. Both are funny, smart, and a major handful much of the time. I wouldn’t want to have missed a minute of being a mom–the diapers and nighttime feedings, first days of school, ice skating lessons, softball, tears and cuddles. It’s hard to believe now that a slightly different diagnosis at age 29, or a different treatment regimen, might have robbed me of the ability to have children.

I’ve traveled throughout the world, exploring the lives of people in India, Africa, and Nepal, and seeing some of the most beautiful landscapes in Switzerland, Italy, and Ireland.

I’ve had the chance to teach hundreds of students and help them to achieve their goals. They, in turn, have supported mine, showing up to assist with Street Smarts and congratulating me when I reach a professional milestone.

I have met so many people that play a significant role in my life–friends, colleagues, fellow survivors, writers, editors. It’s hard to imagine where I’d be now if I’d never met Edwina, Lisa, or other homeless cancer survivors walking the streets of Birmingham.

And I’ve had the luxury to write it all down and to revisit these moments in my life over and over again. Each time, they look a bit different. Every time, they remind me how fortunate I am to have survived the past 20 of my 49 years.

The next item on my bucket list is to keep moving forward. Live. Be thankful. Give back.


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