Bucket List

  • 7 September 2013


Maybe I actually have time to create–and partially fulfill–a bucket list. Those 10,000 things to do before I die. Wouldn’t that be cool?

On my last oncologist visit the good doctor said she’s going to check my clinical trial protocol to see if I can have scans less frequently. Wow! Really?

Having less frequent scans would be such a blessing. Not only are the scans expensive and require extra trips to the hospital, but they involve a contrast dye to which patients can develop an allergy over time. I hadn’t considered the consequences of a constant barrage of chemicals and radiation to the system. Frankly, I didn’t think I’d live long enough to have to worry about the long-range effects of alien substances forced into my veins. What a good thing to worry about! I’ll take it! It surely beats thoughts of hospice.

The other item of interest that I learned at this latest appointment is that I’m the only one at Stanford left on this particular clinical protocol. I’m charting new territory for those who have or may get breast cancer. Maybe they can benefit from what is learned from my genetic material and cancer history. Maybe women like me with no family or genetic history who have aggressive breast cancer will have a treatment answer, a lifeline of hope for the future. The ramifications are startling.

Now back to the bucket list.

What do I want to do with my remaining time? Travel used to be so important to me. Now it’s way down on the list. Driving to my treatment center is exhausting enough. I’ve seen so much of the world through prior business and family trips that I don’t feel the need to explore yet another gorgeous place on this blue gem of a planet. I can google locales that catch my fancy; I can watch movies; I can read the blogs of my fellow breast cancer sojourners to see what’s happening in their respective parts of the world or on their travels. In other words, I can climb the mountains and traverse the valleys and rivers vicariously.

High on my list would be holding a grandchild for the first time. Or re-reading some classic books I haven’t touched since high school. Or having my backyard transformed into a garden of plants with low maintenance requirements but lots of colour. Or going out to eat or shop with a friend. Or playing Scrabble or Mexican Train with like-minded gamers. Or learning ukulele better so I can play solos with my fellow musicians when we perform at senior centers. Maybe I’ll even tackle Somewhere Over the Rainbow/It’s a Wonderful World with decent strumming and smooth chord transitions. Quite a tall order. But these are the kinds of strivings that rock my fledgling thriver boat.

What kinds of items would I find on your bucket list?

  • http://www.thebigcandme.blogspot.com/ Renn

    Jan! So great to see a new blog post from you. And such encouraging news from your doctor. Less scans? Yippee! Last woman in the clinical trial? Way to go! So nice to read good stuff. And I totally understand traveling vicariously. I like your bucket list, though I gotta ask, whats Mexican Train? I have an ‘unBucket’ list. You know, the things I will never do again. (Blog post to come on that one!) So happy to hear the lifting of stress in your “voice.” Keep doing whatever you’re doing! Sending lots of {{{hugs}}}!

  • http://janhasak.com jhasak

    Thanks, Renn! It felt good to write again. Mexican Train is a dominoes game where people build trains of dominoes around a roundhouse; the person with the least points overall wins. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to play it (it’s a social game), and that’s especially why I like it. I love your “unbucket” list idea. I certainly have a list of those, too. Can’t wait to read your post about it. Thanks so much for your kind comment and warm hugs. xox

  • http://none karen sutherland

    oh, jan,

    I was thrilled to see your post – I always consider what you write such a heartfelt chapter of your story and an excellent read. i found that photo of the teeny, colorful bucket sitting upon the white sand such a sweet image. and I hope someday there will be a similar photo of grandma jan, helping her little grandbaby build sandcastles, with big smiles of glee on both your faces. I have never given a single thought to what i’d want for a bucket list – these days I couldn’t come close to wrapping my head around one! but boy, does renn’s “un-bucket list’ appeal to me; I think it would be a resounding release for a shitload of snarkiness and elements for future rants to come into full bloom. then i’d probably be asked to haul myself off to a gol-danged therapist. hmmm – might make for a nice week-end project!

    anyway, to hear that you are the one still remaining with the clinical trial has all kinds of exciting implications. I do hope it provides you and your doctors the opportunity to unlock the secrets that are unique to your medical and genomic history. and how wonderful to know that the exhausting travel of so many miles and hours are going to be cut way back. just think of all you will be able to do with that new found time, and how much less fatigue you will be relieved of. that makes me so happy for you! I vote for your mastering the ukelele and to be able to play, “it’s a wonderful world/somewhere over the rainbow”. then, you simply must have it put into a video so we could all tune in and sing along; that rendition is one of my favorites – such lovely melodies coming together with a message of contentment and joy. that would SO be you, jan! I wish I could be there with you to go out to a wonderful restaurant, do a little shopping, sit outdoors and feel the warm breeze – then play my favorite – scrabble! who knows – it could happen! I plan to take a trip to the bay area over the winter months to help my sister who will be having a heart transplant. we have no idea when – these things constantly change on a dime, but I like to think if it’s meant to be (getting to see you), then it will happen. let’s hold on tight to that hope, something wonderful to look forward to.

    sending you much love and light my dear friend, XOXOXOXOXXOX


  • RSramek


    As I look back on my life, one of the top things I would have missed had I not done it was skydiving. I have a horrible fear of heights, but no real fear of flying. There is simply no other experience in life like skydiving, especially your first few times. As you step out onto the wing strut (there is a little place for your feet and you hold onto the strut) your heart is pounding and you are scared like never before, then the tap on your shoulder to go and as you let go your mind literally whites out – you have so much atypical stimuli flooding your senses that your brain simply overloads with all the new and unknown sensations. Then your chute opens and you have an exhilaration and high like never before in your life. It is just wildly amazing. When you land you are happier than you have ever been before and immediately want to go again (which they won’t let you do – for good reason).

    There is just nothing else in life that compares to that feeling when the chute opens and then when you land on the ground (and I have raced motorcycles, solo backpacked in rugged mountains, tried nearly every drug in the book, and survived two near-death events).

    You need not be in great health to skydive. I’ve known people who were paralyzed, blind, or elderly who had heart conditions who either tandem-jumped with an instructor or did static line jumps as a solo.

    There is nothing like it by a country mile.

  • http://janhasak.com jhasak

    How wonderful to hear from you with such sweet words! The image of my being a grandma really provides hope and inspiration to my soul-seeking self. I would absolutely love it if you could come out to visit. I’m sure with a transplant the date of your sister’s procedure is up in the air, but here’s hoping we could meet in person. In the meantime, I will continue to strum that uke and try to perfect some chord transitions.
    Much, much love to you, too,

  • http://janhasak.com jhasak

    That is simply amazing! What a neat item to have on a bucket list. Some members of my family have skydived and really loved it. They even have a video to prove they did it! The adrenaline rush must be indescribable. Thanks for sharing that experience.

  • http://regrounding.wordpress.com Lori

    Jan! So happy to see your post, if belatedly…

    Keeping my fingers crossed that you can reduce those scans. Reducing “scanxiety” might be a benefit too. It certainly would be for me!

    Bucket List – awesome that you’ve started one, and that top of the list are the small, most important things in life. I have to admit I stumble on this one. I’ve never really be able to figure it out, perhaps because I do assume its supposed to contain BIG things when my focus in life tends to be enjoying the little things. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  • http://janhasak.com jhasak

    Lori, so good to hear from you. Reducing “scanxiety” is definitely a benefit of reducing scan frequency. My heart gets to beating really hard waiting for over an hour in the doctor’s office for the scan results. Glad that my bucket list inspired you. I also used to think that it was meant for some exotic trips, lavish travels posted on Facebook by friends. But the little things in life are the ones that really count. Thanks so much for your insights. xox

  • http://www.facingcancer.ca Catherine

    Sorry I’m so late to reading your post, Jan. It gives me chills to think you are trailblazing for us women with no history and aggressive cancer. That’s just such good news. Next year I hope to be on a clinical trial that does just the same.

    Your list sounds lovely, I hope you get to enjoy each of those desired moments and many, many more.

    Be well, and keep strumming that ukulele. ~Catherine

  • http://janhasak.com jhasak

    Thanks for your comment, Catherine. I hope you also get to be on a clinical trial that produces results like the one I am on. You deserve that–and so much more. Thank you for your well wishes. I’m continuing to strum. It keeps me humming along just fine. xo

  • http://www.nancyspoint.com Nancy’s Point

    Hi Jan,
    Gosh, I’m really late commenting on your post. Apologies. I am so glad to hear that this clinical trial is producing some good results for you and when one considers how you are helping others, well, that’s just wonderful. And less frequent scans – that’d be so terrific.

    As for your bucket list, it’s a wonderful list, Jan. And thoughts of a first grandchild – I relate to that one. I don’t really have a bucket list. I’m not much of a list person and like Lori said, sometimes a person thinks she should have some really big things on such a list. The reality is, it’s the ordinary things that are often times the biggest treasures of all. Big hugs to you, my friend.

  • http://janhasak.com jhasak

    You’re really not late, Nancy. I appreciate comments from all. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you. You are right that the most ordinary events in life are the most precious. That’s a philosophy I can fully embrace as I wing my way through the uncharted course of targeted therapy. Grandchildren? Bring them on! Thanks so much for your comment. xox