Mother with terminal cancer sees dreams come true thanks to friends, family and strangers after her ‘bucket list’ is posted on Facebook
Melanie Swan Horton, 47, visited family in Cyprus, went for a limo ride with friends… and learned to salsa
Still hopes to go on a cruise, watch a ballet and go shopping with a personal shopper, among other wishes
A mother-of-two suffering from terminal cancer has revealed how her dying wishes are coming true thanks to the kindness of strangers.
Melanie Swan Horton, 47, has fulfilled several lifetime ambitions – including learning to salsa, attending her first music festival, and skinny dipping – after friends posted her ‘bucket list’ on Facebook.
‘I wrote the bucket list to help me keep focused after being told I had just six months left,’ she said. ‘I never expected my friends to put it on Facebook but I’m so pleased they did.
Dreams becoming reality: Mel’s friends created this Facebook page for her last month, and she has ticked off more than half of her list since it was published
‘The kindness and generosity of friends, acquaintances and complete strangers has restored my faith in the world. It really is incredible.’
Mel, a former charity manager from Norwich, was given six months to live in July after a two-year battle with bowel cancer.
She wrote a list of things she wanted to accomplish after doctors told her she had only a short time left.
After joking about her ‘bucket list’ to friends, they promptly posted it on Facebook, appealing for help to make Mel’s dreams come true.
And the incredible response the Facebook page has received means she has ticked off more than half of her list since it was published last month.
‘It shows what amazing family and friends I have and I am truly grateful to all the people who have read it and been moved enough to help,’ she says.
‘Skinny dipping was a bit naughty but very funny. Luckily I ticked that off while fulfilling another wish to visit my parents in Cyprus so it was a bit warmer.
A night she’ll never forget: Mel’s surprise champagne limousine ride was a dream come true. ‘For a night I got to forget about the cancer and just had a brilliant time giggling with my daughters and friends,’ she says.
‘The music festival was brilliant. I needed a wheelchair because I couldn’t stand up all day but it was still great fun.’
She’s also been gifted theatre tickets, spa treatments and taken to several exclusive restaurants for meals out.
However one of the highlights was a surprise champagne ride in a limousine organised by friends to coincide with her birthday.
‘It was a dream come true. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance,’ she says.
‘For a night I got to forget about the cancer and just had a brilliant time giggling with my daughters and friends.
‘We felt like stars being driving around the city in the limo sipping bubbly and the driver was fantastic. I’m so grateful that putting the bucket list on Facebook has made it possible to create memories like this for my daughters.’
Mel, who is mother to 24-year-old twin girls Leanne and Maria, now hopes to reach the end of her list, but her health is deteriorating faster than expected.
‘Recent blood tests have shown my liver is struggling but I’m determined to keep ticking things off my list,’ she admits.
‘It’s helping me to keep strong and focused. I may have terminal cancer but I’m determined to keep living my life while I can. I might not have long left, but what I do have left I want to be fun.
‘These will be the last few weeks of my life and I want to live life to the maximum while I still can and really enjoy this time.
‘I have down days when I get very scared about dying, but then I get a message saying someone else has read the bucket list and wants to help and it makes me feel strong again.’
Mel’s biggest wish is to continue to raise awareness of bowel cancer and save other lives, which she hopes will be achieved through telling her story.
She was diagnosed in 2010 after noticing blood in the toilet after she used it.
Mel had put earlier symptoms like weight loss and lethargy down to a new diet and exercise regime which had helped her drop from a size 16 to a size ten.
‘Ironically I felt fitter, happier and healthier than I had in years. I even wore a bikini for the first time,’ she says.
‘I put all the signs down to the exercise I was doing. It was no surprise I was tired and losing weight because I was going to the gym every day.
‘I only saw the doctor after finding the blood. Of course if I hadn’t been dieting and exercising I would have gone to the GP straight away.’
She began chemotherapy to shrink the tumour to an operable size soon after being diagnosed.
But while she was on the operating table, doctors discovered the cancer had spread to her liver. Despite further treatment, more tumours were then found in her lungs and liver.
‘I was running out of options but I’ve always stayed positive and tried to fight it. I preferred not to ask the question about how long because I still hoped I could win,’ she says.
After beginning more chemotherapy this year, her doctor suggested that she consider stopping treatment altogether.
‘Basically the chemotherapy was making me very ill and my doctor suggested I stop,’ she explains
‘They said there was nothing left to try. It was palliative care only. I was finally at the stage where I felt I needed to know how long I had.
‘When they said six months I knew it was time to start planning and started writing my bucket list. In a way it’s a privilege to be able to know and prepare and do wonderful things.
‘I don’t have time to waste, especially as that was two months ago so I may only now have weeks.
‘Cancer has taken many things from me, but I won’t let it spoil these last few weeks of fun with my girls.’
MEL’S BUCKET LIST
Go to music festival DONE
Learn to salsa DONE
Watch a ballet
Ride in hot air balloon
Visit parents in Cyprus DONE
Watch Dirty Dancing DONE
Limo ride with champagne DONE
Wear a ball gown to a ball
Watch wild animals on safari in Africa
Go on a cruise
Go shopping with a personal shopper
Watch a London West End show COMING UP
Go skinny-dipping in the sea DONE
Enjoy a spa with my two daughters
Eat at a posh restaurant DONE
Go sailing on the Norfolk Broads
Photo-shoot with my daughters DONE
Raise awareness of bowel cancer DONE WITH THIS ARTICLE
To help Mel complete her bucket list visit:https://www.facebook.com/mels.bucketlist