Why I named it Five Years To Live (FYTL)

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!

Born and Raised Utah

Date night with my daughter, Alli. We watched some amazing dancers at the Born and Raised show at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Salt Lake City.  Alli loves to sing and dance, and wants to perform on a big stage someday. One of my bucket list items is to see her accomplish this.

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.

23 Responses to Why I named it Five Years To Live (FYTL)

  1. Conallee Moss says:

    Wow…..it’s hard to know where to start with my comment to this entry ~ but I’ll begin by saying how grateful & happy I am that there was a travel basketball team about 27+ or – years ago and I got acquainted with you. I liked you then, I enjoyed watching you through high school and hearing about you through college….and I love you now!

    I initially thought the title of your blog was sad but I understand it and of course, you’re not making it sad. In reality, every single one of us may have five years to live – or less, right? And all of the beautiful thoughts you shared, are thoughts that all of us would do well to put into practice everyday. “I want to tell people how I really feel ….and go on adventures that I normally wouldn’t” ~ perfectly said and thoughts that I’ve taken to heart, and every one of us would be happier if we put them to practice.

    Thank you for your blog, and again, thank you for being who you are and sharing your incredible journey. I am so grateful for the opportunity to know you and to continue following you and your life! ❤️

    • Melanie says:

      Conallee, you have been so supportive of me throughout my cancer journey. I appreciate the comments you leave for me, which in turn, uplift me. So Thank you. And I’m so glad we moved to California all those years ago so that I could meet you guys playing basketball. Thanks for understanding my blog title. I know it can come across as sad at first, which is why I felt the need to explain it. I hope to try my best to walk the walk and back up what I’m saying about living my life to the fullest. I need to constantly remind myself so that I don’t waste the time I have left. Love you!

  2. Cheryl Rose says:

    Thanks for the reminder of how I want to live my life. I discovered these truths after Dave was diagnosed but I have slowly slipped back into my old bad habits. You truly have inspired me to enjoy each day I have with him and all those I love and to live my life to the fullest. Thanks Mel!

    • Melanie says:

      I’m so glad we were able to be at Taylor’s performance last night. She is truly so gifted. Thanks for getting the word out on social media so that I knew about it! Also, it was great to talk with you. I really appreciated our conversation. I need to keep reminding myself to do those things as well and to keep good habits up so that I don’t waste time here. I really appreciate how much your family does for those with cancer. And I’m sad to know you have so many people around you affected by it. They need to get this thing cured and/or we just need Jesus to come 🙂 Love ya!

  3. Cary Stanton says:

    Hey Mel,
    I can’t imagine the things you’re going through let alone sharing them with the world. I remember laughing when you were dancing before delivery and being so happy for you when you said you were cancer free. Same as before, I think nothing but good thoughts for you and your family and will keep you in my prayers. BTW, if you’re making your way to Europe, I highly recommend Glasgow as well as the Highlands of Scotland. We enjoyed the smaller feel of it compared to London.

    • Melanie says:

      Hey cary. Thank you for the well wishes. I really appreciate it. I will always remember your family as a bright spot during my time at UNLV. I know you guys were loved and appreciated by so many of the players. Because of your example, I want my family to be as supportive to a local team as you guys have been to UNLV wbb. You guys are so awesome. and I will def have to check out Glasgow and the Highlands of Scotland. Thanks for the recommendation. Also, I can’t believe Josh is old enough to be in the military. I hope he is well. Please tell Sydney and your wife hello!

  4. John Chiara says:

    Mel, I think it is a great title. Maria and I were so glad to get to spend some time with you in Las Vegas. If there is anything we can ever do for you and your family, please just ask, and I mean that.

    As far as the title, I think it is great and I think your stories and attitude can be a source of strength and inspiration to those with cancer and to people like me who need perspective.

  5. M.E. Clayton Clark says:

    I hadn’t heard the news until today and am utterly heartbroken. You have been in my thoughts and prayers over the years, with hundreds of others, as I’ve seen your Facebook updates of your fight. Please know you will continue to be. Sending you my love.

  6. Lindsay says:

    I love the title! It’s your story and you name it what you want, yet it resonates on so many levels. You are brave and strong and I admire your fight!

  7. Levi Allred says:

    Thanks for sharing Melanie. I hadn’t heard the news until just a few days ago. You and Preston are great people! Keep inspiring!

  8. Andrea says:

    I love the title, too. And of course it’s sad. It’s also inspiring and meaningful. That’s life- you can’t have perfectly happy experiences all the time or it doesn’t mean anything. I’m excited to read more, and excited for you to go to Europe!

  9. Jeff Giles says:

    Friggin Mel! I read this at work and almost started crying. You are such an inspiration. Carrie and I really love you and your family.

    • Melanie says:

      You say “almost”, but we all know that you were balling like a baby at your desk! 😉 jk Jeff. Thanks for reading and thanks for the compliment. I love you! What would I have done without you and all the awkward hugging in my single days?!!

  10. Janie Nance says:

    I’m so lucky to have a sister like you! You have no idea how much your example has affected my life. I love you and Preston.

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks Janie. You the best yo. I always appreciate our emotional talks. And I’ve always appreciated how you’ve always checked in on me especially during the beginning of my cancer journey. Love you sister! And I need a haircut!!

  11. Rick Stafford says:

    Keep the real talk coming. Those who matter and those who understand the struggle are grateful for your voice. It touches our hearts and inspires.

  12. Janet says:

    I’m a friend of Paula Ward and a first time reader. So inspired by your words and perspective. Yes, it’s sad that you know your time is limited but it’s also amazing and meaningful. Many die without the warning and spend their last years, weeks, days doing the insignificant things that dot matter. Thank you for sharing and being so brave so that we can all learn from you and make our lives more meaningful, everyday.

    I live in Vegas and would love to help with your event in November. Please feel free to reach me at [email protected] or on my cell 702.485.0028. Keep up the fight!

    • Melanie says:

      Thank you for your words. We would love help in getting the word out about the concert in November. It will be on November 5th at David O. McKay Academy in Henderson, starting at 5pm. I will post more info soon on social media.

  13. penny says:

    Dear Melanie,
    This piece, and its central question, is a resource for anyone, and not limited to the audience in your tagline. Your moment of clarity about what mattered most, and the specifics of how that clarity would express itself in your life (I LOVED the specifics, including deliberately limiting your house cleaning time by identifying the opportunity cost) is the work of life for anyone. I really hope you will continue to share your journey, and am also a believer in the therapeutic properties of writing. Happiness to you and your family.

    • Melanie says:

      Thank you Penny for your kind and eloquent words. I hope to keep my priorities straight by reminding myself of what matters most and the insight cancer has given me. It is easy to ignore or forget. And I hope to keep writing the rest of my life. It truly is therapeutic!

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