Paris in the spring and Bali in the winter.How a travel bucket list can help cancer patients cope with life and death | Travel


The 2007 film The Bucket List stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two main characters who refuse experimental treatment for a terminal cancer diagnosis. Instead, they go on various strenuous trips abroad. Since then, the term “bucket list” – a list of experiences and accomplishments to complete before you “kick the bucket” or die – has become popular. You can read about his 7 cities you must visit before you die and our list of 100 Australian travel experiences on your bucket list.

A bucket list search for adventure, memories, and meaning takes on a life of its own with the diagnosis of a life-limiting illness. (pixel)

But there's a more serious side to the idea behind bucket lists. One of the main forms of suffering at the end of life is regret for things not said or undone. Therefore, a bucket list acts as insurance against this potential regret.

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A bucket list search for adventure, memories, and meaning takes on a life of its own with the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness. (Also read | Tourists warn of water shortage on Thailand's Phi Phi Islands)

In a study published this week, we spoke to 54 people living with cancer and 28 of their friends and family. For many people, traveling was an important item on their bucket list.

Why is travel so important?

There are many reasons why travel plays such a central role in our ideas about a life well lived. Travel is often tied to important life transitions, such as a gap year in your youth, a journey of self-discovery in the 2010 film “Eat Pray Love,” or the star of “The Gray Nomad.”

The meaning of travel lies not only in the destination, but also in the journey. For many people, travel planning is equally important. A cancer diagnosis affects people's sense of control over their future, calling into question their ability to write their life story or plan their travel dreams.

Mark, the recently retired husband of a woman with cancer, said of his stalled travel plans:

We're at a part of our lives where we were just going to hop in a caravan and go on a big trip or something, and now we're [our plans are] on the block of the hut.

For some, a cancer diagnosis creates an urgent need to “check things off your bucket list.” Asha, a woman battling breast cancer, said she always had the drive to “get things done,” but her cancer diagnosis made things worse.

So I had to do all the traveling and clear my bucket list right now. Because of that, my partner kind of turned a corner.

People's travel dreams range from whale watching in Queensland to spotting polar bears in the North Pole, and from driving a caravan across the Nullarbor Plains to skiing in Switzerland.

Nadia, who was 38 years old when we spoke to her, said that despite her health issues, her trips with her family were cherished memories and energizing. She said her cancer diagnosis gave her a chance to live her own life while she was young, rather than waiting for her retirement.

I think I've lived many 80-year-old lives over the past three years.

But travel costs are high

Of course, there will be travel expenses. It's no coincidence that Nicholson's character in The Bucket List is a billionaire.

Some of the people we spoke to had withdrawn their savings because they believed they no longer needed to provide for their old-age care or retirement. Some people have used insurance money or philanthropy to make bucket list dreams come true.

However, not everyone can do this. Jim, 60, whose wife was diagnosed with cancer, told us:

Actually, we also bought a new car. [been] We're talking about getting a new caravan […] But I have to work. It would be nice if there was a small money tree behind it, but don't worry about it.

Not everyone's bucket list items were expensive. Some people choose to spend more time with loved ones, take up a new hobby, or get a pet.

Our research shows that making a plan to check off items on a list can give people a sense of self-determination and hope for the future. It was a way to exert control in the face of a disease that left people feeling helpless. Asha said:

This disease has no control over me. I'm not going to sit around and do nothing. I want to go on a trip.

Is there something we “should” do?

Bucket lists are also a symptom of a broader culture that values ​​conspicuous consumption and productivity, right up to the end of life.

In fact, people told us that traveling can be tiring, expensive, and stressful, especially if you're living with the symptoms and side effects of treatment. Nevertheless, they felt that traveling was something they “should” do.

As our research has shown, travel can be very meaningful. But a fulfilling life doesn't have to be a luxury or an adventure. Finding meaning is a very personal journey.

This article has been published from a news agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the heading has changed.

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