Thursday, September 18, 2008

Before-I-Die Wish List

There are a number of things I'd like to see happen before I die.

On a grand scale, I'd like to see the Palestinians and Israelis come to a peaceful agreement. I'd like to see the Iraqis form a democratic government so that U.S. and other foreign troops can leave Iraq to the Iraqis. I'd like to see the military government in Burma hand over power to the democratically elected Aung San Suu Kyi. I'd like to see the North Koreans well-fed. The list goes on and on.

I could get really greedy and just wish for world peace and happiness for all. But I think beauty queens have been wishing for that for a while now and it doesn't seem to be happening.

On a smaller scale, I have a wish list of things I'd like to see happen among my friends and family before I die. Some of them have already come true. Two of my friends finally got engaged to each other and I plan to live long enough to make it to their wedding next year. Another friend became a father earlier this year after years of dreaming about it. Another friend who's had the worst luck with men finally met a nice guy and they've had a baby. I can happily cross these guys off my wish list.

I have a number of other friends who want to find love, get married, have babies. They're on my wish list, too. I also have friends who just want to get healthy. Their clean bill of health is on my wish list.

I'd like to be able to lie on my death bed some day (not any day soon!), think about all my friends and family and say, "You're all happy. You guys are gonna have a great life." I'm one of those people who needs to tidy up the room and make sure all the guests are taken care of before I can relax.

Do you have a wish list you'd like to check off before you die?


Helen said...

My Dear Shin,

I love your this blog, especially! I was in that same shoes around when the doctor told me my cancer came back after my first surgery, liver recection!! I do not have thing to do list before nor now which is I should. I think about dead alot before though. My brain was full of worrying my son, only ten at that time (I was selfish, looking back!). I was not much worry about Robins, my husband, knowing he can handle it in time.

I was also worring that Robins is going to remarry SOON. The reason is not that he is going to have new wife. I am worrying lack of paying attention to our son, that's my worry. Robins said "it is awful to think about me like that."

I am so happy to see your chemo was not that side effected this time. You are still in my thought and our prayers time with my son. Shan, my son said "mom who is Shin?".. I told him that "A friend!"..Reading your blog make me fell knowing you in person.

To day, I am going to see about my infustion at 2pm as I need every 4 or 6 months depend on my immue level! I am doing well but there wil be so many check up, X ray, CT, infusion, MRI and blood test till I die and often!

Take care,

Anonymous said...

Dear Shin:

We just lost our sister on September 3, 2008. Colleen, too, had mestacisized breast cancer. In the mid 1990's, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She underwent surgery for the removal of the tumour and the required hysterectomy and then subjected herself to chemotherapy. We were delighted when Colleen was deemed cancer-free. We celebrate even more when she hit the five year mark!

However, only days later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The immediate response on the part of her oncologist was to remove both breasts and for her to undergo chemotherapy. We were all supportive. Yet, Colleen decided that she didn't want to subject herself to western medicine - not even surgery. Rather, she took the alternative route. This, was much to our dismay. We wanted her to live. We believed that western medicine was the only chance that she had to survive.

Colleen completely changed her diet and her lifestyle. She became the epitomy of health. In fact, I had never seen her so healthy! We were cautiously optimistic and were still encouraging Colleen to pursue - at the very least - the surgical option.

With her decision to go the alternative route, also meant that she did not go for regular check ups with her oncologist or physician. Early 2007, her breast had evolved into an open exposed wound. By that point, she had decided to pursue the surgical route... and elected to have her breasts removed and go for reconstructive surgery. But it was too late. The cancer had spread to her lungs, bones and liver. In August of 2007, Colleen was told that she had 6 months if she did nothing and possibly a year if she pursued some chemotherapy options. Again, she chose the alternative route.

We were blessed to have her with us for a full year... even after such a bleak prognosis. Til the day she died, Colleen refused to believe that she would die. At times, we were concerned about what we assumed to be "denial" or "unrealistic optimism"...

In hindsight, we are amazed. We thought that Colleen wasn't prepared. But she was. She took her two grown children to Mexico earlier on in the year. She went to the family cabin at the lake for a couple of weeks. Colleen made sure that her son made it off to College for his hockey scholarship. She watched as her daughter convocated and secured a position with the government. Colleen had her house re-organized and she supervised us as we held garage sale in mid August. The lady got all of her proverbial ducks in a row. And then she just slipped away peacefully in hospice in early September.

To be honest, we thought we would have a few more weeks. Granted, Colleen was weak. But once we got her into hospice care, we were assured that she would be given the proper care that she just wasn't getting at home (we were there but we weren't really qualified). For us, getting Colleen into hospice care was a relief. For her, it was her ticket to "check out"... and only three days later.

As much as we would have wanted Colleen to get her breasts removed, to have chemo... we realize that this was her body - her decision. Personally, I ached to have her go to the physician instead of those that I sometimes referred to as "quacks". I had to bite my tongue. And when I didn't, Colleen quite gently reminded me that it wasn't my body...wasn't my decision.

Yet, despite our misgivings we are left with this. Colleen lived with cancer for over 13 years. From the time that she was diagnosed with mestacisized breast cancer, she survived more than seven years. That is truly remarkable. Colleen believed that the chemo would have killed her.

During one of my pleas to her for her to go for chemo, Colleen stated simply:

"I would far rather live a few years on my own terms than live a thousand doing it someone else's way."

It's difficult to argue with that. We miss her dearly. But we truly value Colleen, her life and the gifts that she gave us all. She was a living example of a true hero...

Shin said...

Colleen's sister/brother,

Your sister sounds like a remarkable woman. I think there are many caregivers of cancer patients who could learn a thing or two from your story, and I'm thankful to you for sharing your experience with us.

Like you, I was a bit dismayed reading about your sister's decision to reject conventional medicine in favor of alternative therapies, but it seems she was at peace with that decision and she was still able to get what she wanted out of her remaining years, so who are we to judge?

It looks like she left behind quite a legacy - a family that is proud of her and respectful of the decisions she made for herself. I hope I can do what she did.

Anonymous said...


Talking about this "Before-I-Die Wish List", have you seen the movie "The Bucket List"?

It's about these two men who met each other in the hospital. Both men has cancer.

They spent the rest of their remaining days with each other doing things on their 'Bucket List'. (Before they kick the bucket)

I thought I should just share it with you. x)


Shin said...


I saw "The Bucket List" and was jealous. I found myself wishing I could live to be as old as those guys (I think they were in their 60s) and thought they were just being greedy wanting to live longer.

But yes, it was an interesting movie, with two of my favorite actors - Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.

Daniel said...

Hi Shin.

You certainly have a big heart. Going through your wish list, I find that they are all about others. I teared up reading it.