My Bucket List

Ever since the day I was diagnosed with an incurable cancer, I have given a lot of thought to my so-called “bucket list.” I have been trying to think of all the things I want to do or things I would regret not doing when I leave this earth. I think the general population, when considering their bucket list, would include mostly trips to beautiful or interesting places around the world. While I would absolutely love to travel to every continent and see the world (after all, I majored in Geography), I realize that I could die happy without doing so. Plus it would take more time and money than we have. (Although I’m totally a fan of what The Bucket List Family is doing and wish there was a way we could do that). With my limited time left, I’m more concerned about the impact I have on people than visiting distant lands.


Summer 2014

Before I die, I want to directly (if I live long enough) or indirectly (through writing) teach my kids certain things. For example, I want them to know how important it is to treat ALL people equally and fairly. I want them to stand up for equality. If they hear a racist joke, I want them to be brave enough to stop the joke and say, “That’s not okay.” If my girls get raggedy, old basketball uniforms, but the boys at the same rec center get brand new uniforms, I want my daughters AND son to know that that is unacceptable. (And also that their Grandma Carol will make a scene to get things changed. Not that she’s ever done that before.) If a boy is being teased about not being tough or good at sports, I want my kids to put their arm around that kid and love him for who he is. And if a girl is being teased for being a tomboy, I want my kids to be her friend and to tell her to keep being her. I want my kids to stand up for the loner, the outcast, the forgotten, the unloved… Because I’ve been that kid. I want my children to seek them out and to help them realize their potential like others have done for me.

I want my kids to be good so badly. I want them to be valuable members of their future communities. I don’t expect them to be the smartest, or the funniest, or the most beautiful, or the most clever, or the best athletes, or the wealthiest, or the most scholarly. I don’t even expect them to be decently good at those things. I just want them to be good people. I want them to be kind. (When I’m not around, please ask my kids what makes someone beautiful. Hopefully, they will respond, “when you are nice to other kids.”) I want my kids to excel at being honest and sincere. To mean what they say. I want my kids to seek truth and build faith. I want them to not just “know” things, but to also “believe.” I want my kids to be dependable and trustworthy. I want other people to feel like they can count on my kids. I routinely say to them (usually when they are whining about a promise they made earlier about cleaning their room), “In our family, if you say you’re going to do something, YOU DO IT!” I want my kids to be unassuming and to not judge others. I hope that they will learn, sooner than later, that all humans are equal in God’s eyes; that every person they meet is neither a lesser nor a greater person than them. And there are no exceptions. Lastly, and maybe leastly, I don’t want them to be too proud to take on a newspaper route when they’re 33 years old and a college graduate.

Most of all (jk), I really want to teach my kids how to play basketball. This would bring me so much joy. I don’t want to force it on them, but if they desire it, I would love to share with them what I have learned from my great coaches. I do realize that they would probably rather listen to the completely inexperienced “dad” coach in their rec league, so I’m gonna have to figure out a way to trick them into listening to me. I also realize that Alli loves to sing and dance (and she’s actually pretty good at it), so I’m not expecting her to love basketball or the other sports I like. But I’m really banking on at least one of my kids to like basketball. I do want to report that Fletch’s shooting form is already on point (I’m pretty sure someone was teaching him BEEF in his pre-mortal life.)

But how my kids turn out is not what this post is about. This post is about what is on my bucket list. Although teaching my kids is one of my highest priorities while here on Earth, here are some other things I would love to do before I die (in no particular order… or is it????):

1. ATTENDED!! Attend a North Carolina vs Duke men’s basketball game at Cameron Indoor.  Students camp out for who knows how long for tickets to this game, and it’s nearly impossible for the public to get tickets. If I were to attend this game, I would pee in my pants the whole time because I wouldn’t be able to contain my excitement. I would take a million pictures to capture everything (or more likely, I wouldn’t take any because I wouldn’t want to miss out on anything). I probably wouldn’t sleep that night because I would be on such a high. It would be one of the greatest moments of my life.

2. Float down the Provo River. Less exciting, I know. But I’ve always wanted to do it and never have.

3. Take a trip with my BFFs to NYC in the fall and drive to Maine to see the leaves. I’ve seen a few leaves in my lifetime, but the northeast supposedly has the best.

4. Take my husband and kids to a lantern festival and watch the wonder in their eyes as they witness the indescribable scene of lanterns in the sky. I went to the Rise Festival a couple years ago and I recommend that everyone attend something like this at least once in their lives.


Rise Festival. October 2014

5. Write a book. A memoir, if you will. And will you?

6. WITNESSED!! Witness a flash mob (dance or whatever), preferably by people I know. Because I just want people to entertain me. For free. And I love the element of surprise.

7. Skydiving. Just kidding. I would probably have a heart attack on the way down. Or even on the way up.

8. Mediterranean cruise. And train tripping around Europe. (I’ve never been on a cruise, so I figured Go BIG or Go home. And I don’t want to stay at home). Tentatively scheduled for 2017. Of all the places I could go in the world, this is where I would go. Just my personal preference. Mostly based on my desire for unaverage bakery items.

9. WATCHED!! Watch Alli perform on a big stage. My prediction, if I had to make one, is that she is going to do that someday in some form, and I want to be there for that. In the meantime, she will be performing at our BucketList Benefit Concert on November 5th in Las Vegas! Come watch her rock the mic!


10. Start a non-profit. My goal is to apply for 501(c)(3) status by December 2017. Please hold me accountable.

11. Attend the Lisbon, Portugal LDS temple open house (estimated to be in 2019). Both my husband and I served LDS missions there, and we were ecstatic to hear the news of a temple being built in Lisbon.


July 2006. Preston on his mission in Lisbon, Portugal.

12. DANCED!! Dance to Busta Rhymes, “Do the Bus a Bus” (the clean version, of course) with my UCLA teammates one more time. After our NCAA tournament wins, this is what we did to celebrate in the locker room. Winning in the NCAA tournament is a feeling different than any in the world. If I could re-create that feeling on the daily, I wouldn’t have a bad day.


My teammate dancing in the locker room after a win in the 1999 NCAA Tournament (that TV tho!)

13. Play basketball with my friend, Jorja. Because… well, she can explain.

14. Become a morning person

15. Go to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) with my brothers. Okay, this is an inside joke. (Because my mom traveled the world for her work, she would always teach us about different cultures and quiz us on geography, and for some reason, she grilled us on Ouagadougou). But I would definitely not mind going there and exploring other parts of Africa!

16. Watch my husband act in a play at the local theatre.


Halloween 2010 as Bob Ross

17. I wish there was a way my husband could spend less time lawyering and more time doing things that bring him joy like woodworking and playing music. But I guess that’s more of a desire than a bucket list item

18. Teach my children to be good

19. Teach my children basketball

20. Help my children find their passion and chase their dreams.

What should I add? What’s on your bucket list?

About Melanie

Hi. My name is Melanie. I currently live in Salt Lake City with my husband and our three children. Although I have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, people are continuously surprised of my optimism for life. For this reason, I have started this blog to inspire others to live life to the fullest as if they had Five Years To Live.

12 Responses to My Bucket List

  1. Anna K says:

    What a great bucket list. Tears. Excited to see Ali From The Valley perform in November!

  2. Aunt Dea says:

    I love you Melanie Day!

  3. Lisa says:

    Great list. Not sure on why you want to float the Provo river so bad…but that seems like it’ll be pretty easy to make that happen. 😉 Can’t wait to see you in a few weeks!

  4. Roxy says:

    Here’s another later festival opportunity 🙂

  5. Conallee Moss says:

    ❤️….so very much

  6. Deanne Dixon says:

    Melanie, I have to believe that you are a bucket full of joy and faith for everyone who comes in contact with you. It’s all about knowing that this life is just one stage in our existence. We will go on.
    Love you, Aunt Deanne

  7. neal brown says:

    You might have already witnessed a lantern festival with your kids. But this is a great one that is taking place this weekend in Kanab, UT. Here is a link to the info. And there’s also a Battle of the Bands festival, if your husband is into music, and we could probably get your family in a hot air balloon ride, (not skydiving) but close to it. Then Saturday night, there’s a lantern launch, which is amazingly spiritual. You get to write a message on the lantern and let it fly. Let me know if you are interested, and we can arrange a hot air balloon ride.

  8. joe lapszynski says:

    Hello Melanie,

    please read up on bee pollen and propolis as supplements for alternative homeopathic approach.

    my dad ( Kazimierz Lapszynski) has advanced pancreatic cancer.
    he and I have been beekeeping for over 35 years and it gives him strength and hope. the family is a big duke fan, Coach K what a leader!
    keep us posted

  9. Ray Collins says:

    Your story is very inspiring, and was recently brought to my attention by a mutual friend (Kathryn Turner). We’d love to help you spread your inspiration! We’ve been featuring people on our bucket list blog and would love to get your bucket list setup in Wolo and do a blog featuring you. Let me know if you’re interested and if there is anything else we can do to help!

    Blog with examples here:

  10. Amy Croson says:

    Hello Melanie,
    How are you? This is a wonderful & so so inspirational blog. Is there ANY chance you would consider an interview for my blog Bucket List Bound? It’s all about lists like yours, & I would love to ask you a few questions via messenger, text or by phone if you’re at all interested. Please let me know what you think, & regardless thank you so much for your time! I’ll be checking back!

  11. One of the reasons I responded to my diagnosis with a bucket list was because of a book I’d recently read, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

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