Boobs, Tatas, Jugs, Cans, Knockers, Chesticles, Golden Globes.

Whatever you call them, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as a proud owner/operator of a pair, it’s an issue that’s both figuratively and literally close to my heart.

This week I farewelled a good friend, who died of breast cancer aged 39.  She was a juggernaut, a powerhouse – one of those people that you meet, and think “woah”.   She planned her own funeral, and during the service she delivered us a wēro (challenge) to complete what she called a “Living List”.

Similar to a bucket list, she urged us to write down all the things that we want to make sure we achieve during our lives.

Once the kids were in bed, I got comfy on the couch and began writing – swim with turtles, see the Northern Lights, audition for a reality TV show – but the more I wrote, the more I realised that these things were so far away from what I actually want to accomplish before I die.

If I left this mortal realm without kissing a dolphin in Tahiti, would I be truly heartbroken?

So thinking like my amazingly dynamic friend – I flipped the script.  I wrote from the future – a list of things that must be done while I’m alive.  What are the things that I need to do now, that will truly allow me to rest in peace?

Five things that Ghost Carley wants me to get started on – TODAY:

  1.  The Uncomfortable Stuff.  Get your pap smear done every three years.  Make sure you book a mammogram! Yes, it costs around $200 before the age of 45, but you pay $200 a year for Netflix and Amazon Prime, and you don’t even watch TV. Book in your colonoscopy too – think of it as your annual “cleanse”.  Get a regular Mole Map; those teenage years of replacing sunblock with baby oil haven’t done your skin any favours after all!
  2. Putting Health First.  I’m not going to spout the statistics back to you, because you know how important movement is for your physical and mental health.  Carve out 20mins of your day and dance, walk, shuffle, squat – just move that glorious body you’ve been endowed with. Stop worrying about pasty cellulite and get into the pool with your kids; they won’t remember your wobbly bits, but they will remember that Mum jumped off the highest diving board and her tog bottoms ended up so high she could taste them.
  3. Conversations in the Dark. Sit down with your partner and talk about what would happen to your kids, your money, your stuff, if you were given terrible news from your doctor. What would you really do, if you didn’t return from work tomorrow? Wills and estate plans are boring and depressing to think about, but ensuring that your family knows who gets what in the event of your death is much easier to sort out while you’re alive.
  4. Money Matters.  There’s a reason you’re not a stay at home Mum, Carley. That’s because your household currently needs two incomes to operate, so ensure that can still be the case if you’re no longer around physically.  Grief will do incredibly painful things to those who love you.  Provide them the ability to choose when, or if, they return to work – and give your family the stability of their home while the rest of the world seems to be falling in around them.
  5. Have fun! Turns out whatever happens in life – rich, poor, stylish, shabby, fat, thin – we all end up the same way.

While you’re here, driving your chemistry lab made of meat, don’t take it all too seriously.  Have a laugh, do what makes your heart happy, and let people know how much they mean to you.

There it is – my RIP list.  We don’t get to decide when we go, but we can make it a little easier for those left behind. If you know you need to get this stuff sorted too, and want help to ticking things of your list, get in touch and we can stay accountable together.

E iti noa ana nā te aroha – A small thing, given with love.

By Carley Ellis

Financial Adviser (KiwiSaver, Insurance)