I’m here to tell you, that is simply not true.
When I was 27 years old, I did my first triathlon and first marathon in the same year. All my friends were turning 30, bemoaning the end of their 20s, and, what they thought, were the “best years” of their lives. Looking ahead to my own 30th birthday, I decided I wasn’t going to hit 30 like that. I decided to do 28 more athletic events over the next two years, committing to “30-by-30”. I finished 7 triathlons, 3 bike rides, numerous 5Ks and 10Ks, and 3 Providian Relays. My 30th birthday ROCKED, because I was celebrating life every minute up to it!
One of the the lowest points in my battle with cancer was when I Googled “5-year Survival Rates for Stage 3 Breast Cancer.” The number came back: 67%. I have a 67% chance of being alive by my 40th birthday, I thought to myself.
With one number, cancer tried to take my hope for the future away. With another, I’m trying to take it back. That number? 40. How many women do you know who are looking forward to their 40th birthday? Count me among them.
For most breast cancer survivors, if you can make it to the 5-year survival mark, your long-term survival odds increase significantly. So I’m going to make these next 5 years count with another goal: 40-by-40. Part “bucket list,” part personal challenge (and, part Fear Factor), my 40-by-40 is a celebration of who I am, what drives me, and what I have to live for.
I’m not going to let cancer take away my hope for the future.
Are you with me?
Here's the list:
1. Do a Komen 3-Day Walk.
2. Do an Avon 2-Day Walk.
3. Do the Peak Hike on Mt. Tam to benefit the Breast Fund.
4. Write & publish my manifesto (Recipe For Lemonade).
5. Rock climb in Moab, UT.
6. Run the NYC Marathon.
7. Have my own place again.
8. Inner-tube down the Russian River on Labor Day Weekend.
9. Run the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon in Florida.
10. Go to an Oprah show with my friend Loren Madden.
11. Finish the Napa Tri with my friend Kristy Lundy.
12. Go on a David Lebovitz Chocolate Tour of Paris with my friend Anne Barrow.
13. Skydive with my friend Ian Fuller.
14. Run the Honolulu Marathon 10 years after I first ran it.
15. Learn to roll a kayak with First Descents.
16. Speak at a major survivor event like the OMG Summit or the Young Survivor Conference.
17. Learn the 6 Basic Figure Skating Jumps.
18. Learn to play the electric guitar. Rock the Fender Strat.
19. Execute a Dusk-to-Dawn Dance Party Fundraiser benefiting a young survivor non-profit.
20. Go to Bora-Bora for 2 weeks with someone I love.
21. Learn to fly-fish with Casting for Recovery.
22. Perfect my chocolate-chip cookie recipe.
23. Go to the Telluride or Sundance Film Festival.
24. Complete an event in Gatlinburg to celebrate the life of my friend Kevin Price's brother, who died young from cancer.
25. Train for an Ironman as part of IronTeam. *OR* Hike Mt. Kilimanjaro.
26. Run a mile in under 8 minutes.
27. Start a garden again.
28. Do a Muddy Buddy event with my friend Katie Birkholz.
29. Secure a well-paying job I love, with great benefits (including health insurance).
30. Take my niece and her half-sister to Kaua'i to learn how to surf.
32. Attend a gravesite ceremony with Katy Chin in New York.
33. Build a Rube Goldberg Machine to light the candles on my 40th birthday.
34. Build a Bottle School with Eli Call and Hug It Forward.
35. Pay off all my medical bills.
36. Build a treehouse with Marlon King.
37. Play a zombie in a film or TV show (tell you a secret: I've wanted to do this ever since I saw MJ's Thriller video).
38. Go ALL OUT on Halloween (i.e., dress up in full costume, complete with makeup).
39. Go to Graceland on my birthday (which also happens to be Elvis' birthday)
40. Dance with Ellen Degeneres.
To watch a VIDEO about my 40-by-40, click on the image below. For my November 2010 Update, click here.