My name is Melanie Day. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, just a few weeks after I found out I was pregnant with my third child. I endured chemo, surgery, and too many ER visits, all while pregnant. I eventually gave birth to a healthy baby boy, and then continued more chemo, radiation, and surgeries. After a year and a half of treatment, I had my first clear scan and was so excited to be moving on with my life, free of cancer. However, in 2015, they found cancer in my bones and I was given five years to live.
My perspective on life completely changed. Suddenly, I wanted to do all those things I said I’d do someday. I wanted to go on that Mediterranean cruise with my husband. I wanted to be more forgiving and stop judging others. I wanted to speak more freely and openly. I wanted to make sure that people knew how I really felt, and that they knew that I loved them. I wanted to stop saving my money and instead spend it on making memories with my loved ones. I wanted to stop worrying about what I looked like or what others thought of me. I wanted to instead build people up, make them happy and excited about life. I wanted to learn to enjoy the chaos of a toddler house and to stop obsessing with having a perfectly clean house. I knew I had to make a lot of changes. And I was grateful that cancer was teaching me to wake up!
I’ve always been the person who saved all my pennies and never splurged on anything. I’ve said no to so many adventures because I wanted to save my money instead, or I didn’t think I had the time, or some other excuse like that. But cancer has shown me how important it is to make the most out of life NOW. Making memories with my family and to no longer delay my dreams are top priorities for me now. My family and I have made an effort to go on adventures this past year to cross off my bucket list items. We spent Christmas making memories at a mountain resort instead of buying our kids presents. I skied in Tahoe for a weekend with the Send It Foundation. We took the kids to Disneyland for a magical week, thanks to some generous friends. In February, the BYU and Duke basketball coaches surprised me with the number one item on my bucket list. They got us tickets to the UNC at Duke men’s basketball game, my ultimate sports fantasy. In April, I spent two weeks in New Zealand playing in the World Masters Games with my former college teammates. Just last week, we witnessed thousands of lanterns in the sky at the Lantern Fest in Salt Lake City. A nonprofit organization called Inheritance of Hope is hosting us this next week in Florida at Disneyworld, Universal Studios, and Sea World. After that, we will be in Lake Tahoe for a family reunion. I plan on going to Hawaii in November, Europe the next two years, and NYC in the fall of 2018. I’m sure more opportunities for adventure will arise and we will seize them. I’ve said “no” to so many of these opportunities in the past, so going forward, I’ll mostly be saying, “yes.”
Although this terminal diagnosis drove me into depression and anxiety of my unavoidable death, I eventually realized the importance of sharing my story so that I could help others. That is now my life’s mission. I want to help others see what I see, without having a terminal disease. I want people to ponder their own death and let that motivate them to live their life how they want to NOW instead of waiting until it’s too late. I want people to realize that every day is a bonus day.
Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness Magazine
Written by Melanie Day