Tomorrow is never guaranteed, and we should really make the best of each day. But sometimes, life gets in the way of – well – life. So, here’s a little perspective for you. 20 people, either facing terminal illness themselves or friends and family of terminally ill patients, shared a few things on their bucket lists.

1. Pass on the misery before I go.

Dad here. 50. Two kids in middle school. On palaitiave chemo. Metastatic stage 4, incurable. Took my daughter to see the Lion King on broadway. That was wonderful. Trying to get to Japan with my son in September if I feel well enough. Also planning a road trip cross country. Feel a need to pass on that misery of a trip the same way my parents passed it on to me. ha! But like others that’s about it. Mostly quality time with my friends and family. It’s ok to die.

2. Become your idol

My dad is currently one year into “6 months to 2 years” of a glioblastoma diagnosis. He has had a good life and didn’t have much on his bucket list but we are going to Key West this summer so he can enter an Ernest Hemingway look alike contest.

3. Some people don’t know how.

My dad was recently given a year after being diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer that has metastasized to his ribs, pelvis, spine, femur and tibia.

He just hit 65 and retired last year, then BOOM, terminal diagnosis. He’s a big Final Fantasy MMO player in his retirement. I don’t even know what he’d have on his bucket list that’s not family or FF13 related. He’s pretty reserved and rarely opens up about his impending departure.

4. What a sad reality.

Well I’m enjoying permanent and unrelenting nerve pain. Ruined my life, lost my job, lost my health, lost my sports and activities. Partner is still around but I don’t think they really want to be, so that will probably end soon.

I mean I’m not dying and there isn’t even anything I want anyway other than to not be in pain, which is apparently something nobody can give me.

Drugs don’t work, therapy doesn’t work. Still try them though, give it my all and will keep doing so. Doesn’t help, been doing it for 4 years now. At a certain point that whole “stay positive, you can do it” attitude can really screw right off.

I’ll probably run out of savings in another 6 months. 8 maybe, I sometimes do manage to get some contract work which helps. If that happens I’ll probably check out, otherwise I’m good.

It’s funny really. I took my health for granted, chased down money and things. Now money doesn’t matter, because what am I going to do with it? Things don’t matter because pain makes everything unfun.

5. Meaning of Life

I have stage 4 brain cancer. I have confidence I will beat it though. I had it 19 years ago when it was self contained, so I have a good idea what to expect. This time it is inoperable, because it is skull based, but chemo begins next week.

If I don’t make it, I am content with that. I found out who I was and what I wanted out of this life 19 years ago, and no, unless your work is really important, it will never define you. I can say that I truly lived and can die at any time without regrets and full of inner peace and happiness. I can’t tell you how important it is for all of us to take a step back, look at the big picture and find out what is really important to us. After that, life becomes very clear and the way to live it becomes even clearer.

6. Family Time

My fiancé was diagnosed with an inoperable Glioblastoma, Grade IV in February. We are looking at maybe two years, but are hopeful that it can be prolonged with clinical trials. He has thought long and hard about his bucket list and always comes back to just wanting to spend as much quality time with me and his twin sons as long as possible.

7. Imagineering

I have MDS which is a form of cancer affecting the bone marrow and blood cell production. If left untreated, in my case, it is fatal in less than 18 months. The bone marrow transplant procedure itself is has a 20% fatality rate, but I am preparing for it this fall.

Due to missed work, because of the frequency of doctor’s appointments, I’m in danger of losing my job, am behind on every bill and rent is always a concern.

The point being that money is extremely tight and must be prioritized to the penny. I would very much like to read these two books:

Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look At Making the Magic Real

Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show.

8. A Kind Neighbor

My neighbor who is 94 called me last week and said she is terminal and has about 4-8 weeks to live. Super nice lady I have always enjoyed talking to. She asked me to mow her front yard until she dies. I’m happy to help as long as it’s one less thing she has to worry about.

9. Losing a Friend

A friend of mine recently lost both of his parents within a few years of each other. He was their primary caregiver. He’s been struggling with his own health issues for quite some time and landed in the hospital this weekend. He’s been given 30 days to live. He’s not in a position to fulfill any bucket list items, but I think it would be a kind gesture to flood his final days with cards, flowers or other sentiments.

10. Live life fully.

Could be a year, could be 20, so I don’t really feel right here. Plus I don’t have a bucket list or goals, just gonna live however long I got then fade away.

Only thing I want is for people to not take life so seriously.

11. Day to Day

Cirrhosis, 28, Apparently have had two versions of Hep C for a very long time, Day to day and I’ve accepted and don’t let it bother me.

12. Climb to Another Mountaintop

I’ve probably got more than a year left in me, but with Stage IV colon cancer who knows. I’m actually in a chemo infusion right now. The only thing I honestly want is to spend every waking moment with my young children. The thought of them growing up without me, without knowing who I am, is probably the thing that weighs most heavy on my mind.

But as far as actionable list items, I need to climb a mountain again. I grew up near the Rockies and have backpacked and hiked all through the southern Rockies. I keep thinking about when I’m done with chemo seeing if I can’t bag a few of the simpler peaks nearish the Denver metro area. I’d like to start a group in Indianapolis with this or similar hikes/climbs in mind, but haven’t done so yet. I’ll look into starting this though.

13. Normal person

Man. Don’t follow these “year to live” from the doctors. My doctors told my parents I wouldn’t live to see age 5. I survived. I survived several countless times. I even died before.

I’ve experienced doctors predictions too often be wrong. Now. I just do what I enjoy and try to improve myself. If I go out, I will go out as someone I like at the very least. My heart has gotten considerably weaker in the last year. But, there’s nothing I can really do about that besides improve my fitness, to give myself a stronger chance.

My real bucket list is to get better. I want to experience life like a normal person.

14. Debt-free

I got sick and kept brushing it off. Ended up having congestive heart failure that I had ignored because I just thought I kept getting the crud getting passed around at work.

I was given a 50% chance to make it a year because my heart function was so low. I’ve made it farther so that’s great. But when it was really iffy the only thing I wanted to was pay off my car and all the medical debt I was getting because I didn’t want my family to have to deal with it. I was super close this year. I only had $5k left on my car and paid my medical stuff off leaving just a personal loan I had to take out when I missed a ton of work and some lady hit me on the highway on my way home and totalled my car so I’ve had to start over there.

It’s been a rough couple of years but if anything I’ve made it a lot longer than expected. I know people who had way fewer and less severe issues than me that didn’t make it. Being completely honest there’s nothing crazy on my bucket list that tanks higher than making sure all my stuff is taken care of so my dad won’t have to if something happens. Having my dad in the hospital room finding out about all my heart issues and the fact that they weren’t expecting great results was probably one of the worst days of my life. I was only 26 and my dad and grandparents had a really hard time with it.

15. A Jedi Knight

I’m 27. Systemic, metastasized, inoperable cancer of uncertain origin. Maybe a year left. Maybe a bit more depending on what treatments become available and work. Possibly less.

The only thing I really want (that I don’t have) is to be cryogenically frozen. But I don’t really expect any help or possibility of that because it’s prohibitively expensive, and selfish, and somewhat insane.

(I’d also like to be a movie star, or billionaire, or incredibly famous, or Jedi knight, if anyone could make any of those happen)

16. Friendship is golden.

My son, who is 21 has an inoperable glioma on his brain stem, he does not know how long he has. Due to his illnesses (he also has juvenile diabetes), he had to quit school a few years back and has no friends now. We live in middle Michigan, about an hour outside of Grand rapids, he is a big-time gamer.

But because his illnesses affect his socializing, and no driver’s license, he can’t get out with friends, and/or develop friendships. His schedule consists of at least weekly Doctor visits, that’s it. I don’t know what I’m actually asking, I just wish he had a person or two who would like to hang out, he’s funny, and acts more like a 16 year old. 🙂 I just wish my son had a friend in real life. That’s all.

17. Make memories

My dad has liver cancer and it has metastasized. He still feels good but at his last Dr appointment they wanted to get him started on palliative care so it’s not looking good at all.

He wants to go fishing with his only grandson… but I only had him 3 weeks ago so he’s not going to be up for fishing this year.

18. Sharks and Sox

What I want more than anything in the world is to get better and live happily ever after with my husband, my kitten, and hopefully children someday. There is a chance I may get better if I find the right specialist and treatment. However, each day of pain I feel the life sucked out of me. I’m hoping to go cage diving with great whites. In October is my 10th anniversary so I’m hoping husband is up for that. I love sharks. I need to go to a few Red Sox baseball games too.

19. Mental Health

For those of you with mental illnesses such as depression and are planning to kill yourself:

I was once there. I had a plan to kill my self. I’m not going to anymore at least for now my mind is set on living. I want you to know it does not get better, you have to make it better. This is highly improbable because for me it feels as if I’m chained to a chair and not able to move when I try to so things. That being said, some days you will be able to move a bit more, do a bit more. You just have to try and even if you think you are getting no where know that you are making progress. Tomorrow might be harder but what was hard today will be just a bit easier.

Therapy and medications are crutches but if you break your leg you don’t walk without them. So get signed up at a therapist and psychiatrist. Try them out, if they seem oddly agreeable they may not be the best fit, so try another one. Before you go, write down every thing you want to talk about. In my case I found I’d never talk about the important things because I would blank on them or get scared. With writing them down you won’t forget and if you get scared you can give them the paper.

I made the decision late to get better, I mean, I really put out an effort in it. It’s hard and some days I don’t get out of bed but I now weight 420 instead of 460 and am regularly going to the gym. Suicide is always a lingering thought and depression is a haze that’s hard to see through but I’m not giving up so neither should you.

20.  Before he dies.

My dad was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer this spring. He’s gone through two rounds of chemo and so far it has actually done a good job of shrinking the tumors. He’s pretty miserable while doing chemo but he has reasonably long stretches between treatments when he feels fine. Based on his age and overall health, he could live more than a year, maybe a couple years. But it’s pancreatic cancer… we are not taking anything for granted.

He’s already taken a trip to Italy (where he was born), and he’s visited or made plans to visit many old friends. We’re all doing our best to just do everything normally. I will grieve after he’s gone, not before.

The one thing he really, really wanted that he never got was an old Volkswagen bus. He used to own one, years ago, but had to sell it for various reasons. Around 20 years ago he bought a “restorable” one. Basically a rusty shell. He paid a local VW mechanic thousands of dollars over several years and did lots of free database work for him, but the guy was a total flake and took him for a ride. He managed to get back about half the cash he paid, but of course no work had been done, and he was also out all the time he spent working on the guy’s database. Several years later, the mechanic died in a shop accident, and that was that.

He sold the shell some years ago for a few hundred bucks. It had been sitting in our driveway for years doing nothing.

Now, old VW buses (specifically the split-window ones that he loves) have exploded in price, and not only is it not feasible to do a full restoration on one, he can’t even really afford to buy one in rough but drivable condition.

I thought about looking up local VW clubs and seeing if anyone would be willing to lend their bus to us for a day or a weekend or something, but I’m not sure if that’s realistic. I don’t know if anyone would be willing to lend out their rare and expensive classic car to a total stranger. On top of that, I’m afraid that even if I do manage to score a VW bus for a weekend, it’ll only lead to him feeling worse because it’s not his.

So I’m not sure. I think I just wanted to talk about this. I still think he would love to drive one before he dies.

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