Travel Is Good For The Soul

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One day you’ll wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.

Paul Coelho

This quote sums up my attitude about life in general.

Maybe I have this attitude because I had breast cancer in 2005. I thought my life was coming to a screeching halt. But life didn’t stop, and fortunately, I’ve been in remission for close to seventeen years. Yay!

After treatment, my only thought was, ‘let me live until the kids are out of high school.’ And a couple of years later, my musing went to ‘keep close relationships with kids and family,’ ‘learn how to write fiction,’ ‘improve health,’ ‘travel,’ and a few other specific ‘must do’s.’

All my future ideas are not ‘one and done,’ meaning they’re all a process. All of these nurture my soul and keep me hopeful.

The idea to become a published writer was a twelve-year learning adventure before a contract was offered. Today, I finished my copy edits and returned the manuscript to the editor. Another yay moment!

Now, I’m off to explore the following destinations on my travel list after a three-year delay because of COVID restrictions.

Traveling to other countries has always fascinated me. Maybe because I grew up in poverty and lived in bland government housing projects. The furthest I traveled before age eighteen was three hours away to San Diego, California.

I read many books as a kid and envisioned the places I read about: England, France, Spain, Mexico, and everywhere.

But, I worked a lot, mothered three kids as a single mom, and had neither the money nor energy to do any travel overseas until they were in high school. From then on, I was bitten by the travel bug.

Today, I’m leaving for Edinburgh, Scotland, Belfast, and Dublin, Ireland. We’ll travel by plane, train, and rental car. Meeting locals and exploring their part of the world is so exciting. I’m eager to walk through the Scottish Highlands and the castles and have a Guinness at a pub.

Photo by Miquel Rossellu00f3 Calafell on

I’m traveling with my sister, who revels in summer after a long school year. She’s the driver of our rental car through Scotland because her first car was an old stick-shift VW Bug. We rented a manual because it’s cheaper and we budget.

To tell you the truth, I’m concerned about her driving on the left side of the road. She says, “no biggie, I’m left-handed, after all.”

Uh, okay.

I read up on the travel books in honor of the big trip and even bought a selfie stick. I felt guilty about that purchase since I’m the person who complains when the youngsters whip out their sticks like light sabers at crowded travel sites.

But I’m tired of getting a travel shot of mostly my face and very little of the fabulous background. Hopefully, I’ll take a few great photos.

If you’d like to see a few photos of my travels and hopefully better selfies, click the Instagram button at the top of the post.

And if you have any travel tips for Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow, Belfast, or Dublin, let me know.

Until next month. Be well.

Breast cancer, Cancer, Health

Cancer, 10 Years Later

kick forward


Yesterday, was Cancer Survivor’s Day. The day reminded me of my own experience with cancer.

The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation defines a survivor as “anyone living with a history of cancer–from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life.”

June 8, 2005 is one of two dates I remember from my experience. The other is the date of my last chemotherapy, November 28, 2005. That is the date I considered myself cancer free.

The day I returned from my honeymoon, I had a message on the message machine. Two days later, on June 8th, I (and the now former husband) sat in my doctor’s office. She squirmed in her chair. After a slight sigh, her eyes traveled to my own. “I’m so sorry to tell you this, but you have breast cancer.”

After that her lips moved but I heard no sound. I became temporarily deaf. My brain tripped on the word cancer and didn’t get up for minutes.

A chair squeaked, my arm nudged, her voice again. I felt myself enveloped in a teary hug. Her tears, not mine.

There are few things like that word cancer to flip your world upside down. Initially, I thought the worse outcome; especially since all of my mother’s siblings died of cancer.

Suffering, death, fear of leaving my three young teenaged kids filled my mind. I know these feelings filled the minds of my children and loved one’s too.

Gradually, I found my life turned right side up, clicking up from the bottom, like I was in a giant Ferris wheel basket, swaying, until I reached the top, able to see the view again.

I didn’t fully enjoy the feeling though as fear of dropping down again, into an abyss, clouded the view. And drop I have, a few times, in the past 10 years.

I seemed to slide in and out of the stages of grief for two to three years. There were no timelines or completion dates, just anxiety and no anxiety; fear and no fear.

These feelings are reproduced, to a much lesser extent, whenever I go for a mammogram, MRI, or PET Scan.

Days turned into months which inched towards years until I felt my momentum again. I’m aware I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m blessed to have had family and some very good friends help me through my time with cancer.

Now, I’m looking forward to one of the commitments I made to myself. (This is one of my ‘to-do’s’ on my bucket list). On my 10th year of cancer free life, I’d get another tattoo to symbolize the anniversary.

A year after treatment finished, I went down to a tattoo professional who my daughter knew and had a tattoo inked over the porta-cath scars above my breast. The butterfly symbolizes transformation and rebirth, the dogwood blossoms endurance and mortality.

1 yr. anniversary tattoo
1 yr. anniversary tattoo

I don’t know what my 10 year anniversary symbol will be or where. What I do know is I will celebrate again and continue to hope for a cure.