Patient Stories: Barista or Bucket List? Belinda on Her Cancer Diagnosis and Living Life on Her Terms

Published on by Matthew Mewhorter.

This is Belinda not brewing coffee.

So you're told you might not even live through the next year. What do you do? Learn how to make lattes and take it easy, or jump out of a plane?  Belinda Weihen was faced with this, and she's an inspiration. Here's her story: 

Back story. So I'm 26. I had been diagnosed with metastatic bowel cancer incidentally (no fhx of anything like this). Told i had to have my abdominal lining stripped as i had peritoneal (plus ovarian and liver- go hard or go home!) secondaries which is apparently pretty nasty. I had to see the oncologist that works with the surgeon who does this procedure (he's the only surgeon in my state that can do this op and he can only do 72 cases a year so you've got to be up shit creek but still operable).**

This oncologist sits me down and tells me that without this operation I will have 6-12 months. More than likely closer to 6 given the spread (later discovered that when they opened me up i was technically past their "operable" pci limit and my bowel was days away from exploding and killing me. So i was really up shit creek). 

I ask if he sees any issue with me going skydiving prior. He gives me this horrified look. "Do you know how dangerous that is??". I replied while gesturing my hands like scales "risk of me dying from jumping out of a plane with a parachute" *lowers hand* "and this cancer killing me" raises other hand. So then he looks at me, still with some confusion. "Why don't you do a barista course? That is safe. Much safer than skydiving. Thats so dangerous!." 
 

"Okay. So i have this surgery, i do a barista course.. which isn't a bucketlist item.. with no bowel can i drink coffee?" I asked.  "Probably not.. you'd have to see" 

Wtf? You can't tell a young person they're going to die within a year without surgery (5yrs with surgery). Then tell them to do a "sensible, safe" course that means they will be taunted by what they can't have. I think skydiving was one of the tamer and safer ideas a dying person can have. Could've decided to take up sword swallowing or dabble in hard drugs. 

Ps. Went to Hawaii before i was booked for surgery. Didn't die.
I had 14 hour surgery. Had a internal bleed (close to 7L over 5 days of blood/fluid).. and sepsis. Skydiving was definitely safer, more enjoyable and cheaper!

Read more from Belinda and her bucket list at https://www.facebook.com/belindasbucketlist/