How travel has helped us to deal with cancer
We love to travel. It’s our favorite thing to do as a family. Last fall was going to be one of our biggest travel seasons yet, but that all changed when we found out Ava had a brain tumor. Since then, a lot of people at the hospital have asked us how we are dealing with this “so well”. Now, I wouldn’t say we are dealing with it well at all, but we seem to be getting by pretty good. I think a lot of the reasons we are doing well comes from traveling. So, Ive made a list on how travel and a sense of adventure can help you in dealing with hard situations in your life:
- Sense of adventure. Anyone who loves travel probably has a sense of adventure. You just have to in order to want to see and do more. You are always wanting to look around the next corner to see what the next road brings you. Well, turns out having a sense of adventure helps immensely when dealing with cancer. Firstly, because cancer is an adventure in itself. No, cancer may not be as amazing as a travel adventure but most adventurers know that with adventure comes lots of ups and downs, highs and lows, goods and bads. I am quite certain because we have a love for adventure we have been able to see cancer as an adventure, hence making it easier for us to deal with. Yes, its an adventure that we don’t want anyone to actually go on, but nonetheless we are on this adventure with highs and lows around each corner and we are trying to embrace them as well as we can.
- Flexibility and Patience. When traveling with kids one of the biggest suggestions I give to people is to be flexible and be patient. You have to be flexible when traveling with kids. Somedays while traveling we have completely ditched our plans and made new plans that worked out better than the original plan because our kids were being crazy. This is okay! I think we live in a society that wants to have complete control over everything and the joy of being flexible is gone. We are all so wound up with schedules and plans that sometimes we forget to ditch all plans and schedules and just wander, go where the wind takes you and be flexible. And guess what?? You also have to be flexible when dealing with cancer too. VERY flexible. I can’t tell you how many times we have heard “be patient and flexible”. Because you never know when you will have to rush to the hospital in the middle of the night or change your plans because chemo has been pushed back or stay in the hospital a few extra weeks because of complications. You can’t get mad at these road blocks. I’ve seen a lot of parents do it and it helps no one. Being flexible and having patience are HUGE in both travel and dealing with illness.
- Kindness. By far the most important lesson I have learned from both traveling and having a baby with cancer it is to be KIND. Yeah, I know, not the standard answer but being kind opens more doors in more ways than I can tell you. In travel, being kind to local people just might lead you to the best food of your life, or the most amazing off-the- beaten-path place. Hey, you might even make a new best friend by being kind while traveling. With cancer, being kind is priceless. Even though your whole life is basically going up in smoke kindness is key to survival. During both my travels and my adventures at the hospital I have strived to be kind to everyone I meet. In the hospital it has made us famous for being one of the friendliest families. Not to mention we have made countless friends just by saying hello or giving someone a smile who seems to be having a hard day. If there is anything I can stress to people in this life, it’s to be kind. Look outside yourself and show someone else you care. Take the time to be kind. You will never regret it. Never.
- Positive thinking. I consider myself a realist. I like to think positive but I like to be realistic in my positive thinking. Yet I have learned how positive thinking and having a positive outlook can turn even the most horrible of circumstances into the best of times. One time our family was stuck in JFK airport for a very long time. I was totally angry about the whole ordeal and made every second of that layover seem like an hour because of my terrible attitude. After it was all over I apologized to my husband and daughter for being such a brat. When I asked Tay how the layover was for her she said she had a great time and made lots of fun friends. It was then that I realized, life really is what you make of it. You can have a bad attitude and suffer through or be positive and make it a good experience for everyone. I also found this in the hospital as well. I met a woman who refused to be positive in the hospital because it was a hospital and nothing positive happens in the hospital (according to her). Both she and her son were miserable every time they were at the hospital because of her attitude. No, it’s not easy to be positive all the time. But it sure does make things easier to deal with when you can see the positive in a situation...no matter how small.
- Live in the moment. It’s not easy to live in the moment especially when you are in a tough situation. The day we found out about Ava our doctor said the following “Let me give you a piece of advice. Live for now, live in the moment and this will all be much easier”. We took this advice to heart and it has been the greatest advice for us in coping with the stress of the big question of “will ava make it?” When you love adventure living in the moment is essential to enjoying travel. We are much better travelers and students of the world if we are able to put aside the past and future and live for now, be interested in now and learn about what is now.