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L is for Living






“Live life to it’s fullest’, “Live, Love, Laugh”, “Be present in the moment”….We see these quotes and clichés everywhere. Daily Instagram, Facebook etc are full of inspiring quotes and we all try to live by them or we at least “like” them or share them and think that it resonates with us. But, how many truly live in the moment and grab every minute we have to extract as much out of life as we can. How many think, “I’ll do that tomorrow” or “when I have more money I’ll do that”, “I’ll start that next week” etc etc


I have, for as long as I remember, worried about time running out. I was convinced that I wouldn’t get to do all things I wanted to do and I couldn’t imagine being old. Consequently, I have rarely put things off and I have dived in head first to just about everything I have put my mind to.


So, it is not really surprising to those that know me that this has intensified over the last 10 years since my initial melanoma diagnosis and I now fully push each day to its maximum. “Manic”, “crazy”, “insane”, “never stops” are the recent descriptions of me that I have heard just this week from my friend and my husband as I roller skated through our kitchen – why?....why not? I want to roller-skate along the beach front as part of my bucket list, so I got skates…obviously!


I would like to live without regret and I pretty much do – I will give most things a go, some work and some don’t but at least I’ve tried. In the theme of clichés- I would rather regret something that I have tried that to regret not trying at all. Hence, living in NZ for a start!

My list of “to dos” or “bucket list” is huge and goes from one extreme to the other in terms of practicality and cost! Clearly none of us can do everything we want to do without an endless income and countless days off. However, there are so many ways to live life with whatever time and budget are available.


My cancer has brought my mortality to the forefront of my mind. I remember when I was told the melanoma had returned and all I could think was “but I just got happy” and I truly was – Ryan and Ruby completed me and the area we live is me to a “T”. I had achieved so much to reach that pinnacle of my happiness. None of it was material – my happiness was my tripod family in our beautiful home, living life.


What is happening to me is sad and my life is likely to be shorter than I would like but that happiness remains. I am happy still and I’m living life well. Someone messaged me once and was telling me about things going well, but they ended the text with “I’m sorry I’m going on about how good things are when life is so shit for you”. My response – my life isn’t shit. Yes, the cancer is shit but my life is good, I’m happy.


For info, we are not very well off and we are trying to fund hideously expensive drugs. Any savings I had got eaten into shortly after moving to NZ (cost of living here was nuts before the cost of living crisis!). Even having now requalified and working as a lawyer, my salary doesn’t stretch to the costs we need to cover. We are reliant on fundraising for medication, so as I mentioned before there is a fine line between living life as we’d like to and doing things that cost money when others are donating. It is a tightrope to live life, create memories for Ruby and be respectful.


My medication won’t cure my cancer or save my life but the drugs are working and buying me time so I am fiercely passionate about using that time I have to make memories to last Ruby a lifetime so that if she does grow up without me she will have these moments to look back on. I also want to do as much as I can in whatever time I have.


One of my friends said she was so excited about having a girl as she could imagine all the mother/daughter things they would do as she got older. As she was telling me, she looked at me and I am guessing I was looking a bit pained so she hugged me- in that moment she understood totally that one of my biggest heartaches is that I potentially won’t have too many of those experiences. I can’t tell you how much I have cried over that! So now, a year later, my way to deal with missing out is to make the most of the ones I do get to have.


We have been lucky since my diagnosis, we have got to go to Europe and have had some wonderful trips around NZ. These trips are not normal everyday experiences and came about due to unusual circumstances; Europe was largely planned and booked pre-Covid (and pre-cancer) and one trip was a wedding present, another was a gift etc etc but we do manage to do a lot in our normal lives. So how do we live life while managing expensive drugs, juggling health issues, appointments, work and routine of the day to day existence? How do we approach fundraising v spending our own salaries to enjoy life?


Simply – by making the most of what we have, a lot of planning and careful budgets!


A lot of the things we love as a family are on our doorstep – the beach, the outdoors, the water, the mountains are all within a short distance. I’ve also found things that I love to do to give me experiences and enjoyment that are within my community; sailing, exercise, pilates, yoga, tap dancing, pottery. Socialising with friends in our home or theirs fills a huge part of our time and Ruby gets to be with us. There are very few things we do that don’t include all of us.


I’ve even turned our evening dinners into a hobby – I love spending time looking at recipes for ideas that provide us with good, healthy, balanced and organic meals that fit into our week. I plan our weekly “menu”, shop specifically for that plan using online ordering from organic veg boxes, the local butcher and the supermarket so that I don’t start buying stuff I don’t need because it looks good on the shelf! It saves so much….even given NZ food prices!


Holidays are planned months in advance and a weekly budget set to save for it. I am a huge fan of Booking.com (not an ad!) due to the cancellation policy….I can book trips and work towards saving for them but if we don’t manage to have enough set aside then we can cancel without losing anything. We also always book places where we can cook so that we aren’t spending anymore on food than we would at home. We did the same when we went overseas last year; it’s even more fun to be able to shop like a local and come up with meals that add authenticity to the trip. I enjoy finding things to make on limited equipment and ingredients. A camp ground shared kitchen is always a lot of fun too for a cheap break away.

Everything is fun when it is approached in the right way and with the right attitude.


I think one thing I’ve learned since all this began is that reaction and mental approach is everything.


The small things can bring the most joy; standing on the beach at sunrise with Ryan listening to Ruby laugh and chatter away and feeling the sea breeze on my face brings me more joy and happiness than I can ever explain. Those are the moments that I truly feel I am living. I have really learned to see the positive in any situation….it isn’t easy and trust me there are bad days when I don’t want to get up but I do love life and it is truly is so precious…I don’t want to ever waste a second.


So, to Ruby when you read this - Whenever there is a down, there will always be an up….just look for it, dance in the rain, let the universe guide you…whatever daily affirmation or quote you read – live it.

Keep it legal but live a life without limits. I will be right there with you xx


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