For some people, cancer has made them live larger. I’m not one of those people. Whether I’m traveling for work, to see my out-of-state doc, visit family, or on vacation, cancer has made me a more neurotic traveler.
At first I fought the image of me not being the spontaneous, carefree, adventuresome woman I used to be. But then I realized that’s all just an image. Who cares? My life is best when I adapt to my challenges and can be myself. (And frankly, jet setters and world travelers are some of the least interesting people I tend to meet!)
My first year and a half of traveling to New York for doctor appointments, I tried to make a gloomy reason for visiting New York more fun and productive. I jammed in media appearances, meetings with my agent and editor, dinners with friends, and museums and performances. But I wised up this past December: I was in and out in for my doc appointment in less than 48 hours, with one short radio show and a lunch meeting. The stress of waiting for big test results was much easier with a pared down schedule. Does it stink to miss out on the fun of New York? Yes, but boo-hoo, sometimes life with cancer isn’t sparkling fun.
Pat Galen Steer, who comments often on this blog, found a way to make her monthly medical trips easier. She dedicated one backpack and lightweight rolling bag for her medical trips in which stored an all-seasons wardrobe. Upon returning from her med-trip she’d do laundry, repack the bag, clean out and organize her medical notes, and replenish her toiletries, makeup, and ostomy supplies. This system reduced her monthly travel to-do list and made the trek smoother and less worrisome.
The new traveler in me feels 67-years-old instead of 37. Before cancer, I camped, traveled on $15/day, thrived on the adventure of winging it, and had a cool collection of pictures featuring me on tropical mountain tops. Now when I go on vacation I want a comfortable mattress, to eat in restaurants I know are super clean and safe, and on beach trips get some shelter from the sun (reducing my risk of skin cancer). So I vacation much less often but do it in a bit higher style - and with an extra supply of prescription drugs tucked away in my carry on.