What a ride!

I am back-peddling here a bit, to start from the beginning of our vacation.   We are Florida bound!  We left on March 1st in the afternoon after leaving C.J. in the capable hands of my Dad.  C.J. loves hanging out with her Papa Roy.  She gets to eat people food, tease the cat, eat some more, and tease the cat some more.  It was very hard to leave her especially not knowing just exactly how long we would be away.  They are both great company for each other, plus I feel I owed C.J. a vacation too.  Aside from my hospital stays, she has been my constant companion keeping my spirits up.  Although she is getting up there in years and she does sleep a lot, I know she is hanging on as long as possible.  For a senior golden retriever in her 14th year, she is not too creaky with her  joints and still enjoys walks.   I think dogs have a sense when us humans just aren’t right, despite the fact that we think we are doing great.  So yes, she deserved a break too, to be spoiled and go on her own holiday with her “Grandpa”.  I think she knows she has some more work ahead of her babysitting me once treatment begins when I return home.

Since we were close to my Uncle John & Aunt Elise’s home, we stopped in there for a quick hello and goodbye and of course giggles and we raided their kitchen for baked goodies.  They always have treats in their kitchen, unlike ours.  Butter tarts were the day’s treasures.  We visited shortly and on our way out the door my uncle handed me a few candies for the ride.  Ironically they were lifesavers.  I like that name and that is what this vacation is for us.  A lifesaver, a much needed break for us both.  Rick especially.  He works so very hard.

As we begin our 26 hour drive to the Florida Keys, as usual I am seeing everything with cancer eyes.  I am seeing all of the signs.  I am tuning in to certain billboards and interpreting them as to how they relate to our situation.  Some of the ones that I noticed were:  (and I am not making these up and they appeared in this exact order too)

I determine my own schedule.

I will tackle my future fearlessly.

Believe in yourself. 

Reach beyond the ordinary.

Make miracles happen.

And then we arrive to warmer temperatures and the first signs of spring we see are wild daffodils blooming along side the highway, yes, these are the flowers that the Cancer Society sells for fundraising efforts and they are used in their logo.  The daffodil campaign is launched the same time that I will be commencing chemotherapy.

I  know I am supposed to be delaying treatment for this trip.  I don’t doubt it for a second.  I am glad I made this decision.  We need this time together.  So we pass by all the daffodil surprises and as each kilometer is left behind us, I feel we are leaving this cancer crap in our dust, slowly but surely, I am kicking it aside.

Day two of the drive presented us with challenges.  They are called tornadoes.  I kept looking behind us and all around us and black skies as far as we could see.  I feel safe with Rick’s driving skills, but the unpredictable tornadoes, not so much.  This is what cancer does to my brain.  It’s always with me.  I see these skies and I say inside my head, bugger off cancer, your grey skies aren’t following us to Florida, you can chase us, but we will get ahead of you and finally leave you behind.  Get the point yet?   Take a break from tormenting us would ya?  You don’t have to remind us that you are here.  Trust us.  I say all of this internally because if I say it out loud, Rick will think I have officially gone coo-coo.  Yet here I am spilling the beans all over this keyboard.  I feel I have to share my deepest thoughts, so that if anyone else is going through these same emotions as me whether they are a cancer survivor or a co-survivor that they know they are not alone.  I can’t possibly be the only one that thinks this way, and well, if I am, then maybe I have officially gone off the deep end.

Kentucky and Georgia were spent driving through heavy rains, and of course tornado warnings.  We met our friends Johnny & Donna in Georgia.  This was the first time we visited them at their home.  We know each other through our work, I prefer to describe them as friends rather than work associates.  The lovingly welcomed us to their home and we enjoyed the conversation and view from their back patio before we headed out for dinner together.  As we were driving back to their home, the town’s sirens were going off, the tornado warning sirens.  First time we ever heard these.  I was, let’s say concerned.  We made our way to the safe zone in their home while the tornado ripped through a few blocks away and when Donna graciously offered their guest bedroom to us for the night, Rick replied, no thanks, we’ll keep on driving.  We all giggled about it.  And so the drive continued for a few more hours.  As soon as we arrived at the Florida state border the heavy rains literally stopped right there.  It was another sign as far as I was concerned.  A sign that we were finally reaching where we needed to be.

I was getting excited once we reached Miami because the Florida Keys were in our reach!  We reached sunny, beautiful skies with pelicans flying about.  Key Largo was first, then it just kept on getting more beautiful the further we drove.  We stayed the night in Marathon which is roughly half way through the Keys.  We walked across the road from our hotel and enjoyed dinner at the Island Fish Company.  All healthy eating habits went out the window at this very spot.  Rick says to me, “Oh just have at least one alcoholic drink a day and enjoy yourself a little”.  With my renovated liver, one drink is equal to about 6 or 7 drinks pre-surgery.  So I agreed, what the heck.  I looked over the cocktail menu and this is what caught my eye immediately.  A house specialty drink called “Pain in the A$$”.  Yes, I ordered it.  It was delicious.  I said to Rick, “I am drinking down this pain in the ass, literally and leaving it back at home.  I am not going to think about the fight ahead of us while we are away, I am going to enjoy this vacation at full attention!”.  Well, all it took was one drink, a delicious dinner and I was persuaded to share a deep-fried key lime pie with my guy.  No need to buy souvenirs, I’ll be bringing home a double chin with me. 

Tomorrow morning we will be making our way to Little Palm Island.  Our paradise retreat for the next 5 days.

I believe that paradise is also a state of mind.  I believe that I am already there.