Cancer: Heaven or Hell?

04/21/2014 05:30 pm ET | Updated Jun 20, 2014

We are all going to die. Everyone knows that. Having cancer just makes it a little bit more real.

I am not a religious person. I know that the majority of the world population do believe in God, heaven and hell and/or some sort of afterlife. That's ok.

My mother thinks I've had a very sad life. I've have cancer (twice now), I have an aggressive son with autism and I'm divorced after 22 years without a decent income. She's a little on the negative side but she is always there for me. I look at things very differently.

I have two daughters that seven years ago when I received my first diagnosis were teenagers. I've been lucky to watch them grow into amazing women that are strong, independent and quite beautiful. I've also watched my son begin to mature and I now see hope for his future (something I questioned seven years ago). I live between Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. I live an hour from the beach. I've been to Paris and London. I've eaten at Guy Savoy. I lived in the Back Bay of Boston. I worked for the smartest money manager in the world (Stanley Druckenmiller-Duquesne Capital Mgmt). It's true, just Google him. He's really my only claim to fame. I have the greatest cousins ever. My parents and brothers are still alive and my parents live nearby.

I've had an amazing life and hopefully will have many more amazing years. My doctor tells me I will. No one knows for sure obviously.

I think we all have our own heaven and hell right here on earth. Many tears have been shed for my son and for me. Teenagers are crazy. Cancer treatment sucks. It took 15 surgeries to reconstruct my breasts. The thought which faded after seven years of being cancer free has returned to the forefront and I now think about it every day. That's my hell.

But, I have never been the victim of domestic violence or rape. I have never lost a child. I have never been to war, nor have my children. I am not homeless. I am not an alcoholic. I may drink too much at times, but it is a disease that I don't have. There is a lot of hell right here for a lot of people. I only have cancer (oh yea, and a kid with autism). We don't know about anyone's hell and should not assume that those whose lives look amazing do not live with some agony. No one is immune.

I was sitting in my living room listening to my son playing the piano thinking about all of the things I would put in my casket when I die. The only problem is that I'm going to be cremated. But if I had a casket, I would put the music my son composes in with me and pictures of my children from babies through today. I would put my favorite DVDs in with me. I would put in a piece of each Christmas. I know, hypocrite; but I do love Santa Claus and the smells and happiness Christmas brings each year. I would take my runDisney medals for the half-marathons I ran. I would put in sand from Kennebunkport, Daytona Beach and South Beach. I would put my Facebook account (computer) in. If I had a casket, there wouldn't be enough room for me unless I stuck my ashes in there, but, that just seem like a huge waste of money.

Then, all of a sudden, I realized that my heaven is right here, right now. My heaven lies in all of my memories and it truly is a beautiful place.

Someone asked me if I felt sorry for myself. He was very serious and surprised at my answer. I will not feel sorry for myself. I am not sad because of my imminent death. I'm not afraid to die. Again, we're all gonna do it. I'm sad because of all the things I'm going to miss. I won't miss them per se because I'll be dead, but I love technology and have marveled over that last 20 years at what has been accomplished. I want to be around to see what's next. I love movies. I don't want to miss any of the good ones. I want (and hopefully will) to live to see my girls get married (if they so choose to) and have babies (if they so choose to). I want to hear my son's music in an elevator or at a doctors office.

Here's an idea: I asked my daughter the other day if it would ok for me to arrange my own funeral before I die (and attend it). I think it would be really fun thing to do. I always wanted an Irish wake. We could have a huge party; everyone can drink a shot of Irish whisky and say nice things about me. And the best part is that I would be there. What do you think? She said that it sounds like something I would do. I think it's a great idea. Too morbid? Ah... who cares? It's my funeral. I love a good party.

If by chance when I die and get to the pearly gates, I find out there really is a God and St. Peter says I'm going to hell because I didn't believe; it will be a wonderful surprise. Not wonderful in the sense that I'm headed south, but that my son will be taken care of as well as the dreams of so many people. His autism keeps him on a more logical path. He believes when you die, it's just like going to sleep. That's not his fault and if there is a God, he'll get that.

And, since I'm such a big Bill Maher fan, I'll be in good company.

In the meantime, I'm going to relish every moment of my heaven here on earth as I can. I hope you do too. And...maybe, have a shot or two of Irish whiskey.

For more information about Lisa Masters visit:
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