I’ve had some negative feedback on the title of this website and blog. Some of you have expressed your displeasure for the title, Five Years To Live (FYTL), because you associate the title with my personal battle with cancer, and you may be concerned that I am depressed and have given up on life. While I understand where some of you are coming from, let me explain myself.
My blog is called Five Years To Live (FYTL), but that does NOT mean that I believe I only have five years to live. Doctors have told me that I have between two to five years to live, that five years is possible, but ten years is not likely. But I am not hung up on the amount of time I have left. That is not the point of this blog. The title is relevant to my particular situation, but my vision for this website is much more than my personal story. My hope is to provide resources for people like me who are terminally ill, but it is also to inspire others to live life to the fullest.
The night I found out that my cancer had metastasized and that it would eventually kill me, I felt a desperate need for…
change in my life. In that moment, my world shrank and encapsulated only what was most important. My husband. My children. Nothing else mattered. Nothing. Not my home. My things. Our cars and computers and iPhones. My collection of basketballs. The way I look, and dress, and sing, and dance, and workout. How many times I’ve been to Disneyland. Or how much I know about science, or sports, or politics. None of that matters (except maybe the basketballs). Certainly, my friends are important. But they can live their lives just fine without me. They don’t rely on me. And my reputation is important. But when death is imminent, what do I care what other people think of me.
I decided that I would only clean my house once a week, because time spent cleaning was time away from my kids. When you’re given a death sentence, you filter out all the nonsense and focus in on what truly matters.
I wanted to be a better wife and mother. I wanted to be more affectionate with my husband. During the hour ride home from the oncologist’s office, after receiving the devastating news, I didn’t want to let go of Preston’s hand. Because suddenly, everything became measurable. How many times do I have left to hold his hand? How many date nights will we have together? Does he really know how I feel about him? Have I expressed my love for him enough? During this same car trip home from the doctor’s office, I told Preston exactly what I was feeling. I didn’t want to hold back anymore. I wanted to worry less about his reactions and more about sharing my heart with him. I wanted to be honest and direct because I didn’t want to leave this life without him knowing what I was thinking and feeling. As you can imagine, we were mostly crying through our conversation that night. We talked about things we wanted to do to get the most out of the next few years. We talked about finally going on that Mediterranean cruise that was previously just a mere frivolous idea. But then I started to cry harder because I couldn’t imagine being away from the kids for a week or two. That was too long, I thought, if I was going to die soon. (For the record, my thoughts on this have drastically changed since that night last year. I will have no problem leaving these rugrats for a trip to Europe ;)).
As I look back on that emotional conversation and all that I’ve learned since then, I’ve thought a lot about why we live the way we do and why we don’t live the way we should. We limit ourselves because we are conservative, frugal, cautious, accommodating, fearful and whatever else it is that holds us back. I’ve missed out on adventures because I didn’t feel comfortable spending money. I had an opportunity after college to go to Brazil with some friends who lived there, but bailed at the last minute because I wanted to save my money instead. Preston and I haven’t gone on many dates since having kids because we didn’t want to spend money on babysitters. I missed out on many social gatherings when I was younger because I never felt like I was a good conversationalist and never felt that what I had to say was important. I’ve missed out on other adventures because of my fear of heights. I haven’t always expressed how I’ve felt because I feared people’s reaction if I were to get emotional and awkward. I regret all of that.
Now that I know I only have so much time left, I don’t want regrets. I want to tell people how I really feel, even if it gets more awkward and emotional than we all are comfortable with. I want to go on adventures and take opportunities that I normally wouldn’t. I don’t want my fears and conservatism to get in the way anymore. To me, this is living life to the fullest. This is how we should all live. So why don’t we?! Why don’t we live as if we only had Five Years To Live?! This is the idea I want to inspire in others. Take that vacation you always dreamed about. Start that business. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Don’t be afraid to have an awkward, emotional conversation. Stop thinking that your voice doesn’t matter. Take your significant other on dates, even if you have to pay a babysitter! Jump out of an airplane (but don’t ask me to join you). Take your daughter to that expensive dance performance at Capitol Theatre in downtown Salt Lake City because she will love it and you will create memories! Make time for family. Write that story. Talk to that person. Tell them how you REALLY feel. Sing that song at karaoke night. Dance with your kids. Always. And for goodness sake, stop cleaning your house!