Since I didn't die I want to...


A bucket list is often connected with climbing mountains, jumping out of airplanes and other adventures of the same magnitude. Although every bucket list looks different. With this post I hope to change your perspective on bucket lists and what they are for.

Before I die I want to…

The title above is the main reason people make bucket lists. Before they “kick the bucket” they want to do specific things. But if you recover from cancer it can seem a bit too ambitious to hike through Europe any time soon. So maybe you should downgrade the list a bit for the time being. Alternatively, start a bucket list if you don’t already have one and keep it realistic (boring, I know).

Since I didn’t die I want to… Your new bucket list

If you are still recovering from surgeries make a bucket list about things you want to be able to do to reach a desired goal. Walk a flight of stairs, for example. Sounds silly and like it’s not a big deal, but it’s a huge undertaking physically if you had a major surgery a week or two earlier. And take it easy. Step by step, so to speak. Write down small goals and try to reach one of them each week (or every fortnight, depending on your physical condition). It’s important that you take it easy without putting too much pressure on yourself.

Social life might be difficult to get back into and if that is the case, a bucket list can help you make progress with that as well. Write down what you want to be able to do again and remember to keep it real. If it doesn’t feel good at the moment, move it further down on your list and deal with it later. Small steps can make a huge progress. Start small and work your way up.

Refine your list as you start to make progress. You might change your mind about things as time goes by, or find that a particular step was less of a hurdle than you anticipated. And reward yourself when you can cross off a step on your list. Eat cake (or whatever you fancy and can eat) when you reached a goal. You deserve it.

What not to do

To begin with, make sure you keep the words “need to” out of the picture. We all have things we need to do and they don’t have to be put down in print. Keep it real and within the frame of your physical and emotional limits at the time. There’s no reason to put yourself in any danger or in a situation where you feel uncomfortable. This is not the time to try and get rid of phobias for example.

Also, make sure your list is based on intentions, not wishes. Any regular bucket list is usually made up from wishes rather than things you intend to do. Again, it’s all about keeping it real.

A bucket list of this kind can encourage you at the same time as it will make you aware of your limits. The limits you might bump into are temporary, so don’t let them discourage you. You should listen to them however since it’s your body and mind telling you to stop. Physical limits after surgeries should be taken very seriously. If you push yourself too hard you could delay the healing process and even break something that isn’t healed yet. And no one will give you any medals for hurting yourself.

If you are in a support group or in touch with other cancer patients that are in the same situation as you are, don’t compare yourself with any of them when it comes to this bit. We are all different in every way. We heal and make progress in different ways and speed, and even if the cancer and the treatments are identical, you are still not the same person. None of the steps on your list should depend on anyone but you and that also goes for the goals.
So do everything at your own speed. Don’t judge yourself (or others) for failures. What counts is that you pick yourself up again.

And finally, when you are back 100% again you just might want a new bucket list that is based on things that has nothing to do with the illness. But continue to stick to intentions instead of wishes. That way your bucket list will be less of a disappointment in the end 🙂