Shopping With Terminal Cancer

Some Things I'm Finished With Forever

It's not just shopping, as I mentioned on Wednesday, that I can give up with this terminal cancer diagnosis. There are a bunch of other things I never need to think about again and I'm pleased as punch to let them go.

Back in early October my oncologist, the chief hematology nurse and a social worker gathered in a room to tell me that my two new cancers could not be cured but that certain chemotherapy might extend the amount of “healthy” life I would have before symptoms of the cancers begin to take over.

My first thought then was, “A-a-a-ll R-i-i-ight! I just went through my exercise routine for the last time ever this morning.”

For years and years, at least five days a week, I had hated every moment of every workout and I'm happy to be done with it.

Here are some of the other things I have ditched:

I don't need to worry about getting dementia anymore.

I can eat anything I want. In fact, that chief hematology nurse has impressed on me more than once that I need to keep my weight up to avoid frailty.

So I can eat all the high calorie, high fat food I want and in fact, she told me not to worry that it may be unhealthy, that the cancer will kill me long before the diet would.

No need to bother to learn the metric system now.

I can stop feeling guilty about not texting. It's just not my thing.

No more major dental work.

I can stop worrying that I am hopelessly behind in keeping up with new music and movies. I have no reason to care now.

Think of all the time that list frees up. If you've got any suggestions of what else I might give up, I'm eager to hear and will consider them all.


Please don't stop writing.

Thanks for this provocative question, Ronni. Here is one answer....

What have I given up? About 2 months ago; other than local alerts via email about water, power, and weather concerns I have given up NEWS broadcasts in any form...COLD TURKEY.

I am old enough in this 9th decade of living to realize each new day is like a shiny found coin. I can spend it any way I like...but I can only "spend it" once.

I have been given all the lessons...more than needed...more than I have ever used. The time had come for me to just end to this busy stocking of information. I don't require one thing beyond my own counsel. If I keep filling myself with new reminders and techniques--it is nothing other than procrastination. I can trust myself now and I know what I can and will not do.

To my total surprise, there are virtually NO withdrawal symptoms; just a delightful sense of calm and manageable purpose I can handle, bringing a result that may be small, but surprisingly satisfying in my growing smaller world. e.g. I purchased 2 overpriced, but elegant, "squirrel proof" bird feeders AND big bags of real peanuts for the critters that have been denied above. Stay turned!

I hope your new rocker, your email "purge", open dining habits, etc.etc. are bringing you this peace also.

Warm regards, as I look forward to what others have to contribute.

I wish I could give up exercising and be able to eat anything I want. Of course, the reason for that is not something I would look forward to.

Please don't stop writing; we need your words of wisdom!!

No more mammograms ... yowza!
Love you Ronni!

All that seems liberating, and rightly so. Totally agree with the moratorium on news, I cannot bear to watch it anymore, although I will read it in small doses as I am still I interacting in the world and do not want to be totally ignorant.

I wonder about other exercise , Ronni. Maybe substitute something you enjoy? Walking? To help you stay strong as long as possible, and help relieve depression (both benefits of exercise).

Since my retirement, I have given up rushing about, and when someone stops to talk to me or calls me, I stop whatever I am doing and really listen. I may miss something else, but nothing as important. Priorities change.

Funny, I didn't realize that there is a baseline of worry going on until you asked this question. I would give up worrying about things I can't control, stop being concerned about survival needs, for one, and how I am going to make ends meet, (I've been making them meet singlehandedly since I was 15). I would let go of reading non fiction, leadership related books, and enjoy reading stories, fiction. And finally, like you, I would let go of any superfluous stuff that I am holding on to. Hmmm...guess I could get started now with all of these. Thanks for the question, Ronnie. Sending you love and gratitude.

No need to save money for a rainy day -

Wear silk everything especially flowing nightgowns -

give compliments and advice freely and forthrightly -

Write it all down Ronnie - you will be read long after your boat has left the shore! I think of an English woman who lived in France - she had horrible cancer of the throat and died in in 2010 - I still go back and read her blog "Caroline's Cinderella Cancer Blog" which her children [I assume] have kept open.
Happy day - hope your weather is as nice as mine!

Oh - I forgot - if you see a good looking interesting old guy give him the eye! Its never too late for that.

I try to imagine what you are feeling. Altho I am healthy, I am old and began a few years ago to get rid of "stuff" in preparation for my demise. The most important things to me now are taking care of myself so I can continue having pets, and exploring the world as much as possible. I love the feeling of wonder and altho I do not have the funds to travel extensively I try to visit places within reach and feel the wonder and awe at the world around me. That feeling is so important to me, as much as the close friends and family. But it is a time just for yourself, with no people to stress you.

Anyway, everyone copes in their own way. This is just a suggestion given with a hug.


No more colonoscopies? Tire rotations for your car? Cleaning the grout in your shower with a toothbrush? 😸

You could stop flossing your teeth, if that's something you do.

I had a friend whose doctors told her she had a month to live. She surprised everyone (especially herself) by surviving for another 18 months. She and her husband went to every nearby play, concert, art show, ballet, or film that attracted them. She took several online courses "taught" by Yale professors just because the subjects interested her. She took a math course because she'd always had problems with math, and it felt like unfinished business. She completed quilts she'd started to make and other projects. She threw out all kinds of clothes--and then discovered she needed some of them back because she was going to survive for another winter.

And she wrote about her life online almost every day for family and friends and friends of friends, as you do. For other people, that's so important, and I'm so grateful to you for doing it.

There was a time that I thought I wanted a bigger, fancier house. That was back in the day when we entertained. Now, I realize that our very small, very compact house is just perfect for us. It doesn't need to be remodeled either as it's quite comfortable for our needs. I've quit fretting about the house and its furnishings and just enjoy each day in this home of over 38 years.

As for not texting...I couldn't imagine not texting. It gives me tremendous joy to communicate so quickly and effortlessly with people and they with me. Text me any time.

I have given up shopping for the best bargain and watching pennies. I no longer buy the second best because it's on sale. I have given up worrying about my children's future and saving my money to help them. Basically, I have become selfish and I am not going to apologize for that.

I have given up being polite to boring or bigoted people and freely speak my mind. I have given up apologizing for things that are not my fault just to appear as a nice old lady.

I am working on being able to ask for help when I can't do something myself. That's the hardest thing for me to give up - being self sufficient.

Many of us spend our entire lives doing things that are supposedly "healthy" for our bodies. Some of those activities are not always pleasurable. Some of them involve great sacrifice in time and money. And for what? Just to be told that what we did all of those years had nothing to do with contracting the disease that will eventually kill us.
I'm beginning to believe what they say, "Life's a bitch, than you die."

I gave up toxic relationships. If I don't enjoy someone's company, if I dread reading their emails or their insistence of lunches together I don't want to go to, get sick of their derogatory comments about the way I live my life, POOF they are gone. Because they were relatives ( or step-relatives) I hung on for years trying to be nice, and realized I wasn't getting any "nice" in return.

I also gave up Hallmark Holidays. I don't celebrate Christmas or Easter,etc. never have, and refuse the pressure to be a sheeple plodding along with the same old garbage decade after decade. If there is a Hallmark card for it, I don't do it anymore. That includes birthdays.

If I still had the energy, I would buy a first class plane ticket to Spain, stay in the most expensive hotel, eat at the best restaurants and do everything I could to spend all this money I saved for retirement! So I guess I’d quit worrying about having enough money!

I quit complaining. Most of the time. XO

I’d give up exercise for fitness and enjoy slow walks anywhere beautiful. I’d give up flossing for sure. I’d embrace good books and a tasty snack, or glass of port. I’d hire a housekeeper if I could manage it. I’d enjoy all manner of tasty tidbits. Things I’ve not kept around because of both cost and calories.
And I’d accept any treatment that made me feel better and nothing that made me feel worse.
I’d pass any little treasures on to those I think would enjoy them most (should probably do that now-one can’t see ahead).
Wow. I feel lighter just thinking about it.
Love you!

Call all your friends over to Five Spice, reserve a few tables near the windows, and order a few bottles of their cheapest best wine, all the desserts on their menuu, and share them: coconut creme brulee with pineapple and cookies, Milkyway chocolate cake with toffee chips, caramel sauce, and whipped cream, white chocolate raspberry cheesecake with raspberry coulis, banana cream cake that's triple layered w/ banana cream and white chocolate, apple tarte served warm with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, and plain old ice cream and sorbet.

Remind us with enough advanced time when the party begins. Some of us have to pack a suitcase and make travel arrangements. Oh, make it early!

Party on Garth!!

My biggest give up when my husband died was taking the big photo of his father that sat on my piano and putting it through my shredder! I never liked him and hearing the zzzzzzz shredding him gave me a big smile :-)

Great post! Definitely no exercise other than a pleasant walk in nature. Eat what and when you want. Have wine, smoke pot...whatever. I wouldn’t even go to the dentist.
No makeup, simple hairdo, no doing nails, comfortable clothes.

So much of it sounds wonderful that it tells me much can and should be done now...even before and life would be simpler.

The hard one for me would be not knowing what happens in 2020 with trump. My curiosity would want to override my not being able to know...but, alas, that’s the way it would be.

I'd stop worrying about having enough money to last me the rest of my life and start spending it on some of the things I've denied myself until now.
If I still felt well enough, I'd plan a first class trip or two to places I've always wanted to see.
I'd get busy doing a photo catalog of things I treasure the most, including explanations of why with each item. Particularly jewelry that I've treasured for reasons never explained to others. And pass on items to those who've expressed particular interests. (My mom had an amethyst ring that I'd always admired, but by the time I inquired about it, she'd given it to a cousin.)
I'd put in place some way of keeping my blog up and running until all family members have had time to read through it, if they want to. I've not really told them about it because knowing they are reading would make me too self-conscious.
But, to be honest, I probably don't know what I'd do because I haven't gotten to that place yet.

Great ideas here! I’m a hospice worker, and an EOLD (end of life doula). As a result, I hear more than the average Jane does, from people with a terminal illness, or those who are actively dying. “I wish I hadn’t said such and such to so and so” is a common refrain (and we can begin to work on that if a patient desires). But far and away the most common thing I hear is “I wish I’d done _____.” What most people regret is what they DIDN’T do- as opposed to what they did. (This needn’t be extreme- could be something as simple as reading. Or telling someone how much they love them.) More power to all of us!

What would I give up? The weekly filling of those little pill boxes. But as long as I have to take care of my husband (he has dementia) I will keep my boxes filled.

There’s so much collective wisdom here...I love it. I’m not at the end of life yet, in fact sort of on the threshold of elderly, having just turned 70, but plenty of these seem good to adopt (or partially adopt) now. And other ideas to think about. Thank you Ronni and all!

This is a wonderful line of thought even if one does not have a terminal diagnosis. It prompts us to think about what is really important and what isn’t. But I wanted to mention that this also reminds me of the days when the new AIDS drugs were being first used, and many people who had come to terms with their terminal diagnosis and had gone through the letting go process suddenly discovered that they weren’t going to die after all, and how kind of disconcerting that was.

I enjoy the sardonic humor, one thing I hope you never give up. B

I love this Ronni. A while ago I did a small piece called "Death as An Invitation to Liberation,"
which engendered disgust in one viewer, and "Why would you spend your timing doing this?" from another. Two people got it. And here you are, talking about the liberation of death before the occurrence of death. That's another whole level I'd not thought about.
Although I do sometimes feel glad that I won't be around to see possible devastating earth changes.
You are taking us all on a trip, allowing more space for thinking about death. And that's a good thing.

No more “flu” shots!?

Well, good for you! Really!

The things you listed are some of the things I'd like to turn my back on, too.

However, my cancer is fairly rare and there isn't a lot my care team at the Mayo Clinic can tell me regarding longevity. Do I have months? Do I have years? Don't really know. They are about as interested in finding out as I am.

So, I continue to watch the diet, get enough sleep, keep exercising, keep up with current affairs so I can encourage my representatives, get the new crown I needed, replace the brush on my Oral B, etc.

I do enjoy your blog so I do hope you continue to keep that up as long as you can!

Everything they said & probably more. I'd like to see my 3 adult children more often & the grandsons as well. But hell, you can't have everything. I love giving up the news & also only get the Sunday newspaper. Heck, half of it is like junk mail. I sit a lot too, these days with the temps in the 20's...……..too cold & those oldie but goodie tunes are so fun to listen to once more. Be well everyone, Dee:):)

I can't think of anything that hasn't already been said. It basically boils down to giving up the "shoulds". I should be nice, I should be thin, I should be well informed, etc. etc. Do what you damn well want to, and to hell with the rest. Be more like a cat!

Along with some other TBG'ers, I would most likely relinquish:
- Exercise, which I despise (I'd also give up pervasive guilt for not doing enough of it despite my best intentions).
- Dental appointments - I'm a dental phobic so that would be a real plus.
- Worrying about outliving our money and ending up in a tent on the street with our 2 elder cats (my husband is 89; I'm 82, so that just wouldn't work for us). Besides, our area already has a HUGE homeless population.

I'd get downright insistent about pain relief. Over the past 2 years I've found that dealing with physical pain (not "discomfort") on a daily basis uses up a tremendous amount of energy, limits one's activity level and has a definite negative impact on quality of life. The overreach of the Feds in response to the opioid issue (which, BTW, was NOT caused by elders with painful medical conditions who use medication responsibly!) has left a lot of people in pain despite the many alternative treatments we've tried--and tried.

I've given up Privacy.

I always thought I'd be mortified to get to this stage. Turns out, having a shower with help from a stranger makes all sorts of nudity- and toilet-related taboos go ==POOF== in a puff of previous priorities. Come to think of it, it feels a lot like how I dealt with with my kids' diapers: life is what it is, this is normal for this stage of life, and you just do it.

I've taken up flossing, though! I used to lie to my dentist every visit like most people. But now? My old teeth have new gaps, and stuck food is just bothersome.

I hope I can emulate your grace, Ronni, when my time comes.
And, I wish I had met you IRL. it seems so foolish now that I didn’t take the time years ago to try and have lunch when I was in L.O.

I have a question. Is someone taking your blog over? You, yourself are not replaceable but there are so many people who love you and the Blog has made a huge difference in my personal life I, selfishly don’t want it to go away.

I’ve never been to Europe. My family is from the UK and I was talking to my daughter about you last year. I expressed how mad I was at myself for not going to Germany 30 years ago when my son was stationed there and my first grandchild was born at the Army hospital in Augsburg.

My daughter said “Let’s go next spring” so we got online and started scheduling, buying tickets and making decisions.

We forgot about Brexit however and are scheduled to fly into LHR on May 3, 4 days after the supposed start of.... Brexit!

I decided it will be what it will be. Our flights are not refundable in any case. If we end up with problems we can cope just fine. I refuse to worry.

Daughter can only stay 3 weeks but I want to go to Paris. So I’m going by myself for the first week of June.

It’s sort of scary and exciting both. I’ve traveled to South and Central America by myself many times but I speak passable Spanish. I speak no French, or only what I can learn in the next few months.

You have inspired me to take this big step so I don’t have those regrets.

Thank you for being you.

And if you have a time where you’d like company or if I can do a shopping for you or if you just want to kick back with some of my Beaverton home grown cannabis I can be there in an hour. Let me know.

Much love. Elle.

So many good suggestions here: colonoscopies, flossing, toxic relationships. I don't know if you meant it to be funny, but I laughed out loud about the metric system — I've never succeeded in learning that. Oh, Ronni. You will be so missed!

For sure, I'd give up the news, unless it pertained to something I was really interested in. As it is, I recently decided that I refuse to hear the Orange Mussolini's most irritating voice any more. Whenever that gasbag comes on the TV or radio, I immediately change channels/turn if off. I can read it if I need to know, but I don't need to hear that stupid voice.

Insofar as possible, I'd give up: the utilitarian for small luxuries (e.g., cheap chocolate for the good stuff); sleep for seeing the sun rise; and feeling like I need to finish a book I started but don't particularly like. At home, I'd never wear a bra and pretty much only wear pajamas. Heck, I pretty much do this last one now.

What an absolutely wonderful collection of things -- as one would expect from such an absolutely wonderful collection of people.

It strikes me, as I'm sure it strikes others, that a lot of these things are dispensable for all of us, whatever stage we're in.

Horse walks into a bar. Bartender says, "Why the long face?"

The first time I heard that joke it cracked me up. Now it works on at least two levels, because for me it's still funny, but it's so old I'm sure everyone has heard it, and I'm reminded how old it probably was the first time someone shared it with me. That guy must have gotten a charge out of my reaction, because how many times can you tell an old joke and get a laugh?

Anyway, I offer that because today a couple of your posts regarding shopping and giving up useless things like exercise programs and such reminded me of my mother-in-law's comment when her ALS diagnosis was confirmed:

"Well, I guess I won't be buying any more green bananas."

Cracked me up. And then of course I felt guilty and foolish, embarassed perhaps and sympathetic... all mixed up. And for me it remains an old joke that never gets old.

Years ago when I first started reading Time Goes By, I thought "This can't end well." I was a young man, perhaps not yet sixty. I wasn't sure I wanted such frequent reminders of aging as a one way path. But I've been rewarded by reading this work. I admire you for keeping it going, even now as the fat lady back-stage is warming up for the last act. I guess this comment today is just my way of saying that I'll be hanging in here until you truly have crossed the green bananas off your grocery list and have decided to lay this down too. It's wonderful how someone like you who is so engaged and does such good work can bring a sense of amazement and amusement to so many of us every day. Thanks, Ronni.

Ronni, I have been reading your blog since November, when my 85-year old father Ed was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and a friend recommended Time Goes By. I started reading when you got your diagnosis and I am scrambling to catch up. Today I arrived at this post and felt compelled to write.
When Dad switched from diabetes pills to the insulin pen in November, he also started enjoying his food a lot more. "I'll have a cookie, please. No, make that two cookies!" and "Pass the salt. The cancer will kill me before high blood pressure will." He smiles like a kid at mealtimes and has ice cream with most meals.
It was fun to help him cancel catalogs and magazines, to throw out piles of unread newsletters and freebie calendars, to toss political mailers in the recycle bin. He has a lot more free time and is enjoying it as much as he can (in between naps). He visited me for Thanksgiving and is here again for a week. He is in the Bay area and I'm in San Diego, and that's close enough for the time being.
Ronni, here's to you and my dad, who are on the same path in different West Coast states, enjoying your remaining time! I'm glad to be here to watch it.

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