This is a very special guest contribution by Talya Goding, a terminally ill writer who has offered to share her story in a hope it might inspire others to do good in this world by leaving a legacy of kindness.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world”
Have you ever given thought to how you can leave your mark on the world? I’m not necessarily meaning a huge gesture like coming up with the next cure for cancer (although that would be great) – but there are plenty of ways you can still make a difference. I have always felt like my life was to serve a purpose and that maybe I were destined to do something with my life that was bigger than myself? I am not a religious person by any means, but I have always strongly felt that my life’s purpose was to change someone’s life. I didn’t exactly know how I was meant to fulfil my inner prophecy, so everything I have done in my life I did with the inner questioning of “How can this help someone else?” or “How can this change someone’s life?” I thought maybe this was to be achieved by being being a nurse, but halfway through my studies my health and life took a different route and I had brain surgeries; I later thought that my desire to help others could be achieved through social work or counselling and changed my studies knowing the impact these professions have had on my own life.
Leaving a legacy through writing
Then when I was 21, I was diagnosed with early stages of bowel cancer due to a rare inherited cancer causing gene. Whil I knew that getting bowel cancer was inevitable at some point in my life, I had hoped that it would be later on and that I would have lived a great life. In order to give me the best chances at beating the bowel cancer I needed to have my entire large bowel removed thus leaving me to live the rest of my life with a permanent ileostomy which is an opening in my abdomen to allow faecal matter to be collected into a pouch. In the lead up to my surgery in 2013, I felt incredibly alone and scared. I struggled to find answers to how I could live life as a young female with an ostomy, I had questions that were far too embarrassing to ask. I struggled to find relatable content in any of the resources I received and felt they were more aimed at those in their “Golden Years”. So began to blog. I shared my story on health along with tips/hints I learned along the way. As my journey developed so too did the content I was writing about. I heard from readers who said that I had helped them on their own stoma journey. I do hope to keep my blog open after I die as a resource for others who needed guidance or support for future ostomates. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was leaving a legacy of support for fellow sufferers who needed to feel “connection”
But I still felt deep down that I could do more.
Why I started an online magazine
I strongly feel that representation in the media matters and as there wasn’t anything out there for young people with a stoma I wanted to be the change for young ostomates the world over. Before I started chemo in 2015 I had this idea to create a magazine for young people with a stoma, I know the wealth of information that is available today and I wanted to collate it all in one place. Knowing my demographic is young people under 40, I knew the design of the magazine needed to reflect that. I wanted there to be articles to suit all arrays of ostomy life that could help someone navigate their life. Articles include: ostomy friendly recipes; fitness; health; nutrition; body image; mental health; ostomy charities; ostomy advice; inspirational/motivational posts; ostomate profiles and more. I felt that by starting an online magazine I could reach a greater audience and reach, by having everything collated to the one place means easier access to support needed, but also by having an online magazine it could mean people had better access to reading it globally. I also hoped that I could find someone to take over the magazine when I died and someone I could entrust with the designing and to keep my legacy alive.
How I am choosing to bequeath
Leaving a legacy, to me, means leaving behind a footprint that not only reminds the world that I existed, but leaves it a little better connected. So while I am so focused on the difference I can make on a larger scale it hasn’t stopped me from wanting to make sure that I do my best to help those closer to home. I have been feeling upset at the thought of knowing that I will miss out on future milestones of my loved ones. I know I will miss their birthdays, weddings, graduations, birth of their first child and the list can go on. So I am working on organising gifts and cards to be given out on their birthday. I worried it would be creepy if I gave out gifts after I had died but I do hope that it brings comfort to them during that time of their life to know just how much I love and care about them. I might not have a lot of money to leave as my legacy, but I am ready to leave behind a lot of love.
But my love of gifting doesn’t end there.
I have decided to organise memory boxes to be bequeathed to my siblings, nieces, nephews and my friend’s children who’ve become my adopted nieces and nephews. Each of these people I have a strong connection to and I know how upset they will be when I die, given most are pretty young and mightn’t understand what is going on, so I am hoping their memory boxes will be both a comfort and a way for me to continue to share my love. I am adding in quirky pieces that double as a life lesson, such as a door knob with a tag that reads “this should be the only knob in your life” or “this is a knob, don’t be one”. I am known for my dad jokes but hoping these double as a way for me to continue giving my life-lessons-learnt-advice. I also gave my loved ones the option to tell me what they want me to leave for them and my sisters asked for a letter written by me along with professionals photos to cherish.
What is a bequest?
To bequeath means to leave or to will something to another. I don’t have any large sums of money to leave my loved ones but that doesn’t mean I have nothing to bequeath to them, I am choosing to bequeath my love and adoration through my memory boxes and personal letters to them. Leaving a legacy to my family is about leaving behind something that will make their world a better place, their memories happier… How or what you choose to bequeath is entirely up to you, I wished that I were able to do something grand like leaving money for charity such as bequeathing a pink vending machine in your will, but I am hoping that I have still made a difference in how I have lived my life.
But consider this:
“Life is about making an impact not a living”
When we die our body might be laid to rest but our legacy and our impact will continue to live on in the lives of the hearts we touched. No act of kindness goes un-noticed and every small change we make today will have an impact on the lives of others. Believe in yourself, be kind to others and always live life in the hopes of looking for opportunities to create an impact. Your life can be your legacy, it just depends on how you want to live.
Leaving a legacy to Share The Dignity is a wonderful way to live on through kindness. Share The Dignity will provide your loved ones with a thank-you plaque that shows your life was spent as a champion of women and a crusader against poverty. All bequests, big or small go directly to improving the lives of Australian women. Learn more here.