My Time-sensitive Bucket List

Charlene Marshall avatar

by Charlene Marshall |

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younger than 30

When talking to others about things they would like to do someday, it is common to hear people respond with, “That’s on my bucket list.” Whether it’s traveling around the world, seeking adventure in another country, or trying a daredevil-type activity such as skydiving or bungee jumping, people often have certain things reserved for their bucket lists. Some of those things may be easily obtainable, while others may be once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

What I think is neat about bucket lists is that they are all unique, customized to the person holding the list. No items are too large or too small.

I have had a bucket list since I was a teenager, usually adding things to it as I travel throughout life and learn about new opportunities. I often share this with people, and they are surprised that I have an actual bucket list where I have been checking off items, as opposed to it just being a common response to people when we are talking about activities we’d like to do someday.

Although I am glad that I have had a bucket list for a number of years, I feel the importance of it now more than ever since my diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). If you are reading this column, you likely know that IPF is fatal without a lung transplant, and the prognosis of those diagnosed with it is around 1,500 days.

Stating this is not to evoke sympathy, nor is it to scare those new to this disease. However, these statistics certainly highlight the importance to me of achieving things I have always wanted to do. Now more than ever, it seems that my bucket list is important and time-sensitive.

Instead of leaving items to achieve “someday,” I am actively trying to cross them off my bucket list regularly. These do not have to be large, exuberant items. Many are normal things with special people. For now, visiting the many destinations on my bucket list by traveling is off the table because of my health. But I know it might not always be this way. Therefore, the focus of my bucket list items is definitely about quality vs. quantity right now, and I am OK with that.

I was talking to a colleague about my bucket list recently, and she made a good suggestion that left me thinking about the things I want to achieve while my IPF is relatively stable. Instead of a bucket list filled with many items, she told me she divided her list up into decades: what she wanted to achieve in her 30s, 40s, etc.

And she called them just that, her “30s list.” Items that she didn’t achieve in that decade she moved to her 40s list, recognizing that she still had time to complete what she didn’t get to in her 30s. I love this idea, but my fear is that I will not be awarded that time due to IPF.

As I approach my 30th birthday this year, I have been thinking of identifying the quality things on my bucket list that I can do with my current abilities and of focusing on achieving the items that are most important to me. I wanted to share some of those things with you, and write them out so that I can be held accountable for achieving them:

  • Take a drive up north with friends to see the spectacular colors of the leaves in fall.
  • Pumpkin picking!
  • Cutting down my own real Christmas tree and decorating it in my new house.
  • Celebrating my 30th birthday in New York City this winter.
  • Taking a drive to see Christmas lights and decorations on homes and parks around the city.
  • Watching my puppy play in the snow for the first time this year. She is hilarious at the beginning of every winter and the first snowfall of the year.
  • Revisiting my desire to learn how to play the guitar and practicing it more often.

Just for fun, some of the grander items on my bucket list include:

  • Visiting the Maldives and staying in one of their ocean villas.
  • Returning to Australia to visit friends who have become like family, and snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef before it dies.
  • Riding on the Nevis Swing, which is the world’s biggest swing, in New Zealand.

What are the items on your bucket list? It brings me comfort to review these things and happiness at the thought of achieving them. If you don’t have a bucket list, I’d highly encourage you to start one. Thanks for reading!


Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.


Katie Bagshawe avatar

Katie Bagshawe

Such beautiful moments you've picked for your bucket list! I feel those who haven't been in a circumstance such as yourself or having dealt with a loved one who has died prematurely, they don't fully comprehend that everyday should be treated as if your last. The idea of completing a bucket list for each decade is a wonderful way of incorporating that into your life and as you said yourself, they don't have to be big financially burdensome trips to be considered achievements. I hope when you undergo these activities you choose to share them so others living with IPF or other chronic illnesses can feed off your drive to keep on living and to keep fighting through the tough times to reach your goals. And pumpkin picking/seeing spectacular places in Fall would be a wonderful one! (It's my favourite time of year). Hopefully someday you might be able to visit the UK and I can show you the wonderful scenery of the Peak District where I come from! Here's to many more adventures and I will definitely be writing up my own bucket list of things to do before I turn 30 in two and a bit years xx


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