Great Tips & Affordable Ideas to Build Your Cancer Bucket List.

When my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, life as my family knew it changed dramatically.  We had no idea that our decision to build a bucket list with everything my dad wanted to do was going to change everything about our situation.

Update: If balancing this situation is your biggest struggle right now,  the Cancer Binder Pack will walk you through the quick and easy system we use to organize medical information.  

EVERYTHING the doctor needs to know is covered in this FREE printable pack with step-by-step instructions, printable forms, and monthly calendar pages so you can ALWAYS find what you need WHEN you need it. 

You can get the Cancer Binder Pack FREE here…

I could give you a million reasons why I hate cancer.

But I will also admit that I’ve learned some incredible lessons from cancer.  One of the things that I appreciate about cancer is it makes you start to look at life MUCH differently. 

I never used to worry about time, I used to think that there would be plenty of time for all of the things I wanted to do… later.

That word…later is dangerous.  

We put things off until later because we think we have enough time.  And then suddenly without warning, you find yourself in a totally different position and what could be your last couple months, or last year together. 

We decided to build a bucket list.

You learn very quickly after a cancer diagnosis there isn’t a whole lot to look forward to when you’re spending your days running to treatments, doctor appointments, and lying around the hospital bed feeling like crap.

So, we decided that we could let cancer take over our lives…  Or, we could live every single good day we had to the absolute fullest.

Here’s the deal:  You can spend your time stressed out and agonizing over things you can’t change, or you can focus every single second you have left on this earth doing the things that make you happy and make the focus of this diagnosis a great ride.

After we were told that we were dealing with a terminal illness, that became our main goal, to enjoy every single last moment we had together for the remainder of whatever time.  

A bucket list of things they want to do is an amazing tool that should be used to help you keep fighting as long and as hard as you can… but it doesn’t have to be trips to the Rocky Mountains, or deep sea fishing, or rides in a hot air balloon… although it could be.

It can be normal type of stuff that you’ve put off for whatever reason.  Your loved one’s bucket list’ adventures can be whatever they’re excited about.

Bucket lists create inspiration and purpose that give your loved one reasons to keep fighting, meaningful time with the people they love, and things to look forward to when everything sucks.

That’s a pretty big deal when you’re knee-deep in a cancer fight.  Even when you’re getting the best care, there’s a whole lot of days when everything sucks.

Taking the time to build a bucket list is also a great way to take your life back from cancer.  To make sure that cancer knows, it’s not the boss of you.

Cancer doesn’t get to come in here, ruin your whole life, and then monopolize all your time. It’s hard to get up in the morning day after day and be excited about more appointments.

Reasons to Keep Fighting

Mom and dad trying some local craft root beer in NYC.

We’re human, we need things to look forward to, things to be excited about, think about, and plan for.   The more reasons your family has to keep going and keep fighting this thing, the better.

Bucket lists are NOT about dying.  Bucket lists are about living. 

Cancer journeys are long, and they are hard.  And every single one of them is completely different.

But there are some “standards” that are universal.  Cancer patients NEED things to focus on so they can get through this.

At first, it’s easy to stay motivated and get fired up about the future.  I mean, when cancer drops into the equation, you’re fighting for your life.  It’s easy to find reasons to not give up and to keep fighting hard.

But after months or sometimes years of staying motivated through the sickness and the side effects and the constant appointments and treatments that consume your time, it becomes much harder to keep fighting through the exhaustion.  

Not because you don’t want to fight, but because you are physically and emotionally wiped.

Cancer journeys are exhausting.  And no amount of sleep can cure you.  It’s much bigger than that.

Having experiences that are doable and amazing is an incredible way to keep your head in the game and your energy strong.

Taking advantage of every single good day and finding more and more things that make you happy and keep you strong is a great way to deal with this.  

Meaningful Time With The People You Love

The key to a great bucket list is you focus on the things that matter.  The things that make you happy.  And it’s a great way to spend meaningful time with the people you love. 

It also doesn’t have to cost a ton of money.

  • You can do family barbeques or gatherings and have everyone bring a potluck.
  • You can spend a day at a museum or a zoo for a small admission fee or donation.
  • Take a drive to see family you haven’t seen in a while.
  • Grab dinner at a place you’ve always wanted to go but have never actually been to.

Making sure that you get quality time with the people that matter… meaningful time becomes the top priority when cancer explodes into your world.

You don’t want to take anything or anyone for granted.

And the people you love (children, siblings, grandchildren) are incredible motivators for keeping your loved one’s head in the game so you can help them keep fighting.

Step #1:  Start Your Bucket List

Daddy power scooting around the Royal Navy Dockyard in Bermuda

Right now, you can join our Build A Cancer Bucket List Challenge.

We are making a list of the things that make us happy, keep us motivated, and that we can do on the good days to “stick it to cancer.”

All you have to do is make a list (you can use this free printable if you want) and check them off one by one as you do them.

The instructions are pretty simple…

  1. Consider the next 3 months. 
  2. Figure out what you want to do. 
  3. Write it down. 

That’s it.

What are some things you’ve been putting off, or letting go until “later?” 

  • Things you’d like to do.
  • People you’d like to spend time with.
  • Places you’d like to go.
  • Food you’d like to eat.

Your bucket list doesn’t have to be big elaborate events (although they can be).   It can just be a bunch of stuff you’re interested in, or simple things that you love. We live in upstate New York, so a lot of our activities took place around us, but you can do this anywhere.

We had a great time and did things like…

  • The aquarium with the grandkids
  • Camping overnight at our favorite campground
  • Dinner at The Culinary Institute of America (which was amazing!).  
  • Broadway Shows (we found cheap tickets on Groupon).
  • Trip to North Carolina and spent some time with family.
  • Road trip to the mountains for the weekend.
  • Dinner at Carmines and Rosie O’Grady’s.
  • We had a picnic by the lake and did some fishing.
  • Checked out the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
  • Visited the 9/11 museum and cried our eyes out.
  • Toured Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Times Square.
  • We attended a reunion with family we hadn’t seen in years.
  • A last-minute family vacation (cruise) to Bermuda.  (no joke, you can find our full review of cruising with cancer here and here…)

Need bucket list ideas for your list?  We have a ton of cheap ideas for the whole family to do together here…

Step #2:  Plan out the details.

Dinner at Buffallo Wild Wings during one of our family vacations.

Moving around these days might be very different than when things first started.  The changes are not a big deal, but you may need to make a few adjustments.

  • What do you need to make those ideas you wrote down a reality?
  • Do you need to arrange travel?  Drop off or pick up? 
  • Are several people going?  Or just a few?
  • Will you need a walker or a wheelchair for your loved one?  (Either of these will give your loved one a chance to relax or take a break when needed). 
  • Is this an overnight or far-away trip?  Will you need any special equipment?  A toilet seat riser?  A shower chair? A wheelchair, a walker, or both?
  • Should this be discussed with the doctor?  For example: When we took my dad on a cruise, we talked with the doctor about everything having to do with that vacation so there were no surprises. 
  • Where should you go for an emergency?
  • How will you respond to an issue? Or what would we tell the hospital (in Bermuda!) if we ended up there? 

Jot down a quick list of anything you need to remember on that day, including things you need to bring (medication, special equipment, emergency numbers, snacks!)

By planning ahead, we had already had the bad stuff mapped out, so we could focus our energy on having a blast. 

(Pro Tip:  Don’t forget to ask the doctor about medication.  They were able to make a few med changes for the cruise vacation period and he ended up feeling great for the entire vacation).

Step #3:  Get Peace of Mind With This Emergency Plan 

Check out Medjetassist if you do end up traveling.

This membership is a 24/7 emergency travel medical evacuation plan that will get you to YOUR doctor in the event of an emergency that takes place 100+ miles from your home (including international).

We used it when we took my dad on a cruise while he had cancer and then after that we covered myself, my mother, my husband, and more recently 2 kids in college.  Hey, you never know.

We’ve never had an evacuation situation but the cost of this plan is so reasonable it makes no sense not to have it just in case.  

Basically, if there is a medical event when you’re far away from home, you go to the emergency room where you are stabilized.  You call Medjetassisst and let them know that you have a situation (they give you a handy card with all the info you need to keep in your wallet).

Once you’re stabalized and a doctor clears you for transport, they will medically evacuate you to the hospital of your choice.

This is a really great safety plan, if you choose to travel around a bit.  This way you don’t have to worry about a medical crisis during a trip.  

You’ve already ensured that there will be trained medical professionals ready to airlift you out of there.  And for about $150 for the whole year of coverage…You can’t really beat that.

You can find out more about Medjetassist here…

Building your own bucket list can change everything about the way you feel and give you things to be excited about.

So, tell me are you ready to stick it to cancer and build a bucket list? 

Use the comments below to tell me you’re in!

P.S.  If balancing this situation is your biggest struggle right now,  the Cancer Binder Pack will walk you through the quick and easy system we use to organize medical information.  

EVERYTHING the doctor needs to know is covered in this FREE printable pack with step-by-step instructions, printable forms, and monthly calendar pages so you can ALWAYS find what you need WHEN you need it. 

You can get the Cancer Binder Pack FREE here…

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