Elizabeth Caplice admits she has a problem with the inspirational image of a "cancer hero" who has been ravaged by the illness but emerged a strong and flawless warrior, disease elegantly defeated.
That picture just doesn't match up with her experience of stage four cancer at age 31, which has been dominated by nausea, colonoscopies, syringes on her coffee table and bouts of boredom somewhat eased by Netflix marathons.
Rather than be an idyllic hero, the National Library archivist has come up with two bucket lists to help her look past the unattractiveness of cancer and get stuck into enjoying life while she can.
Ms Caplice was diagnosed with secondary cancer after doctors found eight large tumours in her liver in June last year. A small primary tumour was discovered in her bowel, as well as growths on her lungs.
As it stands, her cancer is incurable. Doctors can't tell her if she is terminally ill, or how long she might live. They simply don't know.
Through her blog, Sky Between Branches, she has unflinchingly documented in raw and forensic detail the reality of the illness – bowel movements, one-inch needles, blood thinners, cytotoxic drugs, nosebleeds, mucus, fevers and drool.
The blog, which has led to several freelance writing projects, was therapeutic as well as an opportunity to debunk the idea of a "cancer hero".
"The cancer hero is a thin white woman on the the beach, wearing a white flowing dress staring out to the ocean with a tear on her face. That's what cancer is supposed to look like.
"That's not what cancer looks like. I know goths with cancer, I know heavily tattooed, heavily pierced people with cancer.
"There are marathon runners but there's also just lazy, normal, complicated, messed-up people just like everyone else."
Ms Caplice, a keen foodie who lives in Braddon, first came up with the idea of creating a bucket list after a recent trip to Sydney for a Sufjan Stevens concert and to sample some of the city's best restaurants.
"I realised I'd compromised so much of myself to stay alive I felt like there was not much left, and then I realised there was all of that left."
Now there are plans afoot to sample Australia's top 10 restaurants and travel to Iceland in September, before she faces liver surgery later this year and ongoing chemotherapy.
Ms Caplice's National Library colleagues rallied to set up an online fundraising page and sold chocolates, cakes and jewellery to raise thousands of dollars to help fund medical treatments, bills and bucket-list adventures.
"I've got this narrow window where I feel fine and it's not going to last," she said. "There is absolutely no way."
The goals would allow her to have experiences she wrote off after her diagnosis, she said.
"It will be about getting the joy of experiencing things while I can and forming those memories so that when I'm sick and when I do go downhill I will have memories of all the great things I have done and all the enjoyment and pleasure of the holidays I've had."
Ms Caplice said she could be "one of the lucky ones" who was able to control their bowel cancer with chemotherapy for 10 or 15 years. Others survived two years, some lived six years.
"The big thing with the food is to be able to enjoy it while I can and while I'm still physically capable of doing so," she said.
"No one has any idea how long I'm going to live for and I don't particularly feel like faffing around and sitting around being a cancer hero at home when I can get out and do things."
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