Heather & Cameron & their motorcycle

When I was in the hospital in Boston recovering from my extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery, I remember looking at Cameron, my husband, and saying to him, “when we get through all of this, we are getting a motorcycle.” I think he started dreaming about the perfect bike that night.

That next year, just as I had said, Cameron went out and bought a 2007 Honda Goldwing. He wanted a bike that both of us could comfortably ride for extended periods of time and took careful consideration of my comfort due to having only one lung. Something that vibrated or bounced around a lot would not be the best for me. I have to say, he knocked it out of the park-- the Goldwing is fabulous. It is like a recliner on wheels. It doesn’t vibrate or bounce and has such a nice, smooth ride.

A couple of years ago, Cams decided he wanted a faster, sportier bike to ride when I didn’t go with him, so we went to the dealership together. While there, I found a scooter and fell in love with it. I bought it that day. I don’t know what came over me, but all I could picture was me tooling around town on this cute thing, picking up a few groceries, or meeting friends for coffee. There was just one little problem-- I needed a motorcycle license to legally drive it.

Last week, I took my motorcycle safety course to get my motorcycle endorsement. It was 4 days, 3-3 1/2 hours a day of practicing riding, going through different skills and drills that will be on the final test. On my first try at the S curve, I dumped my bike. I don’t know what happened, all of the sudden I was going fine one way, trying to turn the other and over I went. The bike just sort of tipped and I went down with it. I pulled myself up off the ground, tried get the bike upright and failed miserably. Thank God the course coach Dave was nearby, he ran over and picked the motorcycle up like it was light as a feather. I was a bit shaken, but knew I HAD to get back on and conquer this. I would not let myself quit. I had a good laugh, jumped on and went right back into the course. When I came to the next curve, my stomach was all butterflies, but I took a breath, and made it through. In the end, I passed the final test and got my license!

Heather's tattoo

Getting my license has become more than just something to do so I can legally drive my scooter. Mesothelioma has made me more aware of the simple joys in life and has allowed me to take risks I might not have before. There is a great sense of accomplishment in doing this and doing it the right way. I haven’t let the cancer or the loss of my lung keep me from living my life. In fact, it has made me live life with more passion, more purpose. And something as simple as buying a scooter on a whim getting a motorcycle license has reminded me of that.

I have a challenge for you. Find something you never thought you would accomplish and give it a try. It can be something like art class, yoga, or heck, skydiving. And do it. Remind yourself this is your life, live it with passion. Don’t wait for something like a cancer diagnosis to wake you up. Like my tattoo says: "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death." Go out and LIVE!