Staring Down Cancer

Checking an item off the bucket list

Noreen Fraser

 (Noreen Fraser)

Happy New Year!  I've returned from the trip of a lifetime for this now 60-year old cancer survivor.  We were in Botswana, South Africa, and Cape Town for three weeks.  This trip was on my bucket list, and I have been planning it since last March.  I knew the only time I could get my husband and kids away together would be during the holidays, so off we went on December 23rd, our first Christmas ever away from the U.S.

As I planned the trip with the kids and my husband, I constantly got push-back from each of them at different times.  "Mom, you're too sick to do this," or, "Mom, Africa is full of germs...It's a third world country," or, "Mom, you can't take the anti-malaria medicine with all of the cancer drugs you are on." Even my husband said, "I just can't sign off on this trip. It doesn't seem right to me."   

I explained that the doctor had given his okay and that each of the game reserves had air-evacuation services. But I could never get my family to say, "Hey, this will be great for you – best medicine ever,” or, “It will be relaxing and exciting, and you deserve to spread your wings after all you have been through."  There was no positive feedback for this girl.  

So, big surprise: I'm alive!  Miracle of all miracles, I did not have to be air-lifted to a hospital.  I was not even sick one day!  It was a marvelous trip, just as I had imagined.  

The beauty of the open land, the amazement of seeing elephants, leopards, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, hippos, lions, all within 10 feet of our jeep.  All of God's children and creations right before our very eyes.  Sunsets that I have never experienced before and probably will never experience again.  It was spiritual.  It was overwhelming.  

It was just what I needed.

On New Year's Eve, as we toasted to the new year, I raised a glass to me for having the fortitude not to listen to them and for having the single-mindedness to make my dream come true.  I asked each of them to raise a glass and profess they would never keep me from my dreams.  That bucket list will go on!

I say to you: Listen to your loved ones. Stop thinking for them and listen to what it is that they want.  We have all been through a lot, and we need you to be positive with us and to help us make our dreams come true.  

And, by the way, who the heck cares if we need to be air-lifted to the nearest hospital?  We will recover there with a smile, knowing we did hang tough and we are the commander of our ship.  I know that if my family had decided I shouldn't go, I would have gone alone.  

Seize the day, my friends!  Seize the day!

Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is the Founder and CEO of the Noreen Fraser Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to funding groundbreaking women's cancer research. To stay in touch with Noreen, please 'LIKE' The Noreen Fraser Foundation on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.  Noreen can be contacted via email at