My List for Living

1) Move to the countryside (DONE!)

2) Live in my own house (DONE!)

3) Get a dog

4) Play a netball game, again

5) Recover from chemo on a ridiculously perfect beach (DONE!)

6) See penguins in the South Pole

7) Go to Paris by Eurostar just for lunch (DONE!)

8) Visit Pompeii and drive along the Amalfi coast (DONE!)

9) Explore the ancient ruins in Rome (DONE!)

10) Snorkel on a coral reef

11) Trek in Nepal

12) Go to the 2016 Olympics in Rio

13) See the Northern Lights (DONE!)

14) Ride a camel across a desert

15) Drink a mojito in Cuba

16) See Stonehenge at sunrise (DONE!)

17) Go into space (DONE!)

18) Get married

19) Get my book published

20) Present a BBC Radio 4 programme (DONE!)

21) Hold an exhibition of my cow photographs (DONE!)

22) Do voluntary work

23) Run a 5K

24) Sky dive

25) Go gliding

26) Ride a horse through Hyde Park

27) Try kite surfing

28) Zoom down a zip wire (DONE!)

29) Surf somewhere hot

30) Go coastering somewhere cold

31) Take a speed boat down the Thames

32) Swing on a trapeze

33) Fly in a hot air balloon (DONE!)

34) Take a private jet over London

35) Fly in a stealth airplane

36) Be driven very fast around a race track in a sports car (DONE!)

37) Sleep under the stars

38) Get a tattoo

39) Have a henna crown painted on my baldy head once the hair falls out

40) Grow my hair long, again

41) Be a model and work the catwalk (DONE!)

42) Learn to play poker

43) Pull a pint in a proper pub (DONE!)

44) Hold a party in a castle

45) Go glassblowing (DONE!)

46) See puffins in Britain

47) Swim with sharks

48) Sail alongside a pod of dolphins at sea

49) Catch fireflies in a jar

50) Drink champagne in one of the best bars in the world just before Christmas to celebrate still being alive. (DONE!)

This List for Living was started in March 2013.

62 thoughts on “My List for Living

  1. Hi Helen, what a wonderful list. I survived cancer 20 years ago and spent quite a few years doing mad and exciting things on my list. The biggie was adopting my daughter. As time went on the cancer became a distant memory and I forgot to live life to the full. The low point came when I spent 2 years being completely miserable at work ( yes 2 whole years, mad I know). I finally came to my senses and left and wasn’t sure what to do. I got a dog Georgie and he is so wonderful. He teaches me so much about life and now I have turned things around, am an inspirational speaker and life coach. I would highly recommend number 3 on your list, get a dog! If you do please let me know how you get on. Best wishes, Heather.

  2. Hi Helen,
    Just heard your story here in Australia on a replay from the BBC. My wife was strong like you and I take my hat of to you both. I wish I could help you obtain just one of your goals. But I can not. I can share with you some of my pictures from a recent trip to Antarctica (after the passing of my wife) that is about my limit of contribution to your cause.

  3. Great blog. Life can incredibly unfair and I wish I could help and share in your illness.
    I admire how you go positively on this difficult chalenge. It’s a great exemple we should follow in our life.
    I’ll follow on your blog and will think of you.
    Best wishes.

  4. Hi Helen, I pray on a daily basis that my granddad survives. He seems to have given up and is refusing chemo. He doesn’t see the point in living now that his wife passed a year ago also from cancer. What advice do you think I could give him? He’s very stubborn and quite a religious man. He believes this is fate. I don’t think it’s fate until you’ve completely lost at the point of death. He’s literally wasting his time and not being happy at all.

    • Hi Hassan, I am sorry to hear about your grandad. It’s a very difficult situation. Chemo is extremly hard to cope with and yet I can understand that you want him to do all he can to deal with the disease.
      I’m going to write about some of these issues in my next blog post so hopefully that will be helpful.

  5. How amazing way to deal with the coming days. I had an aunt who survived breast cancer with a smile on her face cos simply she has so much to do, for instance taking care of her family. She passed few years ago but not from cancer, she defeated cancer long time ago. I wish my words could make you feel something that makes you to feel encouraged. The only thing I can say is you have a house in Mexico and a friend in me. Be brave, always everything happens for a reason. (even when we don’t know what that reason is )

  6. Hello Helen, Could you tell me what is your next list, if the Doctor told you (you are recovered)? Life is full of Surprise….. My father got recovered from cancer after removing his Kidney. I am sure you are live more than others. You are so strong, you are going to say life come on try me.
    Karwan in Kurdistan

    • Hi Karwan, Thanks so much. I’m not sure what’s next on the list. They keep taking me by suprise! Sadly I am not recovered, I am living with cancer.

      • Hello Helen, Still my hart with you and always asks me if your are fine. what is last news about your Health.I hope you recovered. Here is my facebook if you accept my friendship ? Karwan Hussein said

  7. How amazing and great blog ,I’m sure you are very brave and strong person in your can do everything you want and have long and long whishes

  8. Helen. I heard about your list while listening to the BBC World Service and think its an inspiration to everyone – healthy or ill – who wishes to seize the day and live life to the fullest. As a result, I have now made my own list and am grateful that I came across your programme. Best of luck and God bless.

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  11. Love your list…noticed you have not checked off a hot air balloon ride. Come to California…Sonoma County…I will host a lovely ride for you! Let’s check off another event on your live life checklist!

    • Cathy thanks so much, that’s a lovely offer. I have been trying to go on a hot air balloon ride in England but the weather is always against us. I bet you never have that problem!

  12. Ms Faulkes, I live in Zimbabwe and have just heard about your new programme on the BBC World Service. May I respectfully suggest you also add “see Victoria Falls in full flood” to your list – see the Falls, have a sundowner on a cruise on the Zambezi, then sleep out under the African stars. It’s getting towards our summer here now, so it’d be best to do it next (UK) summer. Stay strong, very many people are thinking of you and supporting you though you’ll never know how many lives you have and will touch. Very best wishes, Eric

  13. Hey Helen
    I just read your story on the BBC news app. I am currently on the train to Rome, to my Italian language class. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer two years ago when I first moved to Rome to be with my now husband. After an operation, it reared its ugly head again and I was beasted with chemo and radio last year. One year clear, I still live in fear but being here in Rome makes life a little sweeter. I would love to share it with you. I live in Anzio, just an hour south of the city centre. If you able, why don’t you and a friend come stay with Marco and I. We can take you sightseeing around the ancient ruins, teach you to play poker with Zia Maria and Zio Alfredo (they are absolutely hilarious) and we can take a trip to Pompeii and the Amalfi….that would be three things ticked off your list for living :)
    I hope you are feeling strong and well today. Keep smiling and let me know if you are keen to come stay.
    You are an inspiration :)
    Lisa xxx

  14. Hi Helen
    I just read your news on the BBC app on my way to Italian School in Rome. My name is Lisa and I was diagnosed with cancer two years ago. After an operation, it reared its ugly head again and I was beasted with chemo and radio last year. One year clear, I still live in fear but living in Rome makes life a lot sweeter. I would like to share that with you.
    If you are well enough, why don’t you and a friend come stay with Marco and I in Rome. We can visit the ancient ruins, teach you to player poker with Zia Maria and Zio Alfredo who are absolutely hilarious, help you run 5km and take you for a drive to Pompeii and the Almafi. All you have to do is get here and we will look after you both.
    I hope you are strong and well today. You are an inspiration :)
    Hopefully I will get to see you soon

  15. I think we should all have a list for Living!

    Heard your voice on BBC World Service last night which caught my attention and made me find your blog.

    I have a dear friend in her 80’s who has inoperable stomach cancer and has been given a year to live. I always thought if cancer was inoperable, that meant it had spread out of control in the body. But my friend’s cancer was caught early.

    She has some medical conditions though, heart failure that makes an operation impossible, and a bronchol weakness which would explode if the good bacteria was zapped by radiation.

    Like you, she’s making the most of the time she has left with us.

    I look forward to hearing your program on Monday

  16. Hello Helen,

    I found your blog via a link from a BBC website this morning.
    You are so right Life is for Living. I love your List for living.

    May I recommend for No 46 there is a wonderful hotel at Woolacombe Bay from where you can take a walk around the headland to Morthoe and come face to face with Puffins. Tis magical. There is a hotel at Morthoe for a refreshments break and an easier walk down by road back to Woolacombe.

    They may have boat trips to see the birds if the walk is too much for you. Need to take extra care around the headland on windy days – can almost blow you away.

    I also had cancer (malignant melanoma of left eye 1979 was very lucky it found so early) and since then Ca always peering over my shoulder. But thanks to the wonderful NHS every lump, bump and polyp is carefully checked out.
    Very best of wishes to you

  17. Dear Helen,

    I came across your story on the BBC website and was immensely inspired. You are so right to remind us all that life is for living. I wish you success in completing your list – and any successor list if you make swifter progress on this lot than you are expecting.

    Like the previous commenter, I have a suggestion for puffin watching. The Isle of May, in the Firth of Forth is home to hundreds of thousands of puffins. The best time to see them is July or August. Day trips sail from Anstruther, in the East Neuk of Fife, during the summer months – see We visited this summer (with my father, who also has inoperable cancer) and found it an absolutely magical experience. It’s really hard to describe just how exciting it was to see the puffins – and I’m not really a ‘bird’ person. It was simply magical.

    Very best wishes for the list and for life. Thank you for inspiring the rest of us to make the most of what we have.

  18. Dear Helen,
    On behalf of myself and all of the other instructors at the Oxford Gliding Club,we would be very happy to help you achieve number 25 on your List for Living,You would be welcome as our guest to come and fly with us at any time. We operate every weekend (weather permitting).
    Best wishes Barry

  19. Hi Helen, I loved your list and the way you’re facing the situation. Best wishes from Brazil!!!

  20. Hello, i’m from Brazil… i’m waiting for you here in Rio 2016 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Dear Helen,

    Your story and your list for living is amazing. You are so inspiring.
    I’m sure that after reading your story, if I stay on the same situation as yours, I’ll do the same.

    Thanks for inspiring me and other people across the world!

    Love from Brazil!

  22. hi, may God bless you. He can do miracles in your life. Brazil is rooting for you. Force! His story is amazing.

  23. Indicate also watch a game Flamengo in Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. And within the crowd, inside the fans!!.

  24. Hi Helen I am from Brazil and I read your history in a local internet site and I’m sure that you will live (truly live) more than most people in the world because now you can following your heart and your soul and do the things that give you pleasure. Enjoy !

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  26. Hi Helen, I run a bed and breakfast in Rome and would love to accommodate you! Please let me know if I can help.

  27. Hi Helen. I don’t know you in real life, but I just think that you’re the greatest, strongest and most inspiring woman I’ve ever heard of. So, i’d love to give my contribution. I can help with points 8 & 9, and, as I’m living in Paris for this year, I’d really enjoy having you as my guest, if you are considering a 7bis! :)
    Take care :)))

  28. don´n think about how many time you have think what you can do in this time of you live and them you can see the live is a treasure live live

  29. Hi Helen! What a great list – would you like to come and swing on a trapeze with us? We’d gladly make this happen for you – it would be a pleasure. We have a lovely training space in a beautiful church (St Paul’s Church, Bristol) with a full size flying trapeze rig. Do get in contact! Rebecca, Circomedia (Bristol)

  30. Hi Helen, I am a Cuban, i live in Granma, Cauto Cristo, when you come in to my country at drink the “mojito” then look for me, I will pray for you, God Bless you, ……. and …. sorry my poor english. Reidel.

  31. Strong Helen, you must Enjoy trying or doing the List.

    This Feeling of Joy could be the Difference between a a good pass or stay healthy

    Don´t be afraid about move on to the afterlife because life is a continuous that never ends,

    feeling and consciousness stay in

    Full wonderment

    A Latin wooer

  32. Be strong, may you get to do so many more than are not on the list!

    May I suggest, with regards to #17, the next best: go zero-g on a parabolic flight.

  33. Hey! you can do it everything of your wish’s list. Just, you must keep faith in God for do.
    Blessings, hugs and greetings from Honduras!

    PS: my country has the most beautiful coral reef in the planet. Come here!

  34. Hi Helen, I am an Italian girl. I read about you on Italian Vanity Fair. I think you are a great person and I hope you will do everything and more! Good luck. Chiara

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  36. Helen, I see you haven’t ticked off gliding yet. If you would like to come along to Booker Gliding Club near High Wycombe we will help you with the ticking. By the way, I heard your Pick of the Week, it was excellent.

  37. Hi Helen, I admire you and not just for your Bucket list. I can help you with No.15 ‘Drink a Mojito in Cuba’ if you are happy to settle for ‘Mojito made by a Half Cuban’?

    Keep Going! And let me know if you would like a Mojito :-) Luis

  38. Hi Helen,
    Your story is an inspiration. My aunt for the past 5 years has lived bravely with cancer. She is coming to the end of her life now, (doctor has given her days) and is still as graceful as she lived.
    Barbados is the perfect place for 39, 27, and 10 on your list. Riding the waves at Bathsheba with Brian Talma, Barbados’ professional surfer is the way to go.
    I am sharing your blog with others who are living with cancer.

  39. I can help with 46. Plenty of puffins where I live. And other exciting things. What fantastic choices to be thinking about.

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