Using conscious lifestyle choices to salvage the #goodlife from the #cancerlife

Off the Grid in Alaska

Off the Grid in Alaska
Our Group Settling Sail
Our Group Settling Sail

I’ve intentionally been a bit MIA for the last week-and-a-half-ish. Thankfully it was not for nefarious health reasons. So where have I been? Well, in *Alaska* for my first time with my Mom, close friend Joelle, and her family. Social media and the internet can be an amazing tool to stay connected to those you care about, but it can also be a huge distraction. I made a conscious decision to “check out” for a bit to focus on my present company and the beautiful locations we were about to explore. My hand was also forced a bit given that cruise ships are the last place in America without fast and free access to Wi-Fi 😉

Joelle and I at Mendenhall Glacier
Joelle and I at Mendenhall Glacier

Joelle and her mom met my mother and I at the Young Survival Coalition annual conference this past spring. Her mother calls our meeting “serendipity” and I have to agree. In a conference attended by women from around the country, I met someone from my city, about my age, in a similar career place, with a similar personality/outlook, also dealing with Breast Cancer. The details of our diagnosis are very different, but many of the experiences are shared. I think I can speak for both of us when I say it’s been a blessing to have a friend that truly understands the physical and emotional nonsense that Breast Cancer brings and isn’t grossed-out or weirded-out by some of the stranger details of treatment and its side effects. I’m happy to share that Joelle has completed her treatment for Stage II Breast Cancer and the Alaska trip was a celebration and respite for her.

I could write a novel about all of the amazing things we did, but I’ll try to keep it to the highlights. Three days after my port procedure (discussed in this post) I boarded a plane headed to Vancouver. I’m actually really lucky this trip did not conflict with any of my treatments, although I did have the foresight to purchase travel insurance just in case. In Vancouver, we got on a cruise ship headed north through the “inner passage”. Our destinations included:

We were fortunate to have amazing weather by Alaska standards. By this I mean we experienced no rain and daytime temps in the 70’s which is uncharacteristic for Alaska, even in the summer. Over the course of our trip we used basically every form of transportation to explore our surroundings; plane, ship, float/seaplane, train, helicopter, bicycle, and yes, even Segway. We also saw an abundance of wildlife including whales, bears, eagles, mountain goats, mountain sheep, moose, seals, sea otters, salmon and more. Please find a selection of my favorite photos with captions to give context below.

Our Ship, the MS Noordam, in Port at Skagway
Our Ship, the MS Noordam, in Port at Skagway.
Mother/Daughter Pairs Enjoying the Bow and Whale Watching
Mother/Daughter Pairs enjoying the bow of the ship and whale watching.
Whale tail! Not a bad shot for an iPhone camera.
Whale tail! Not a bad shot for an iPhone camera.
In Glacier Bay National Park with Margerie Glacier. We got to see and hear her calve!
In Glacier Bay National Park with Margerie Glacier. We got to see and hear her calve!
View from White Pass Railroad.
View from White Pass Railroad.
Entering the Yukon Territory, Canada
Entering the Yukon Territory, Canada.
Emerald Lake in the Yukon Territory.
Emerald Lake in the Yukon Territory.
They wouldn't let me keep the husky puppy. Apparently she has to grow up to be a sled dog.
They wouldn’t let me keep the husky puppy. Apparently she has to grow up to be a sled dog.
Selfie with Mom!
Selfie with Mom!
Look Ma! A bear! No zoom :)
Look Ma! A bear! No zoom 🙂
Iditarod (Famous Sled Dog Race) Trail.

It was a trip of a lifetime and I’m thankful for the memories created with these special people.

As always, Cancer is lurking in the background of my life. Now that I’m home I’m not only unpacking and doing laundry, but preparing for my next chemo treatment. I had blood work and saw my doctor today. Luckily, my blood cell counts are high enough to receive the treatment so I am confirmed for this Friday. Some of the blood work results take a bit longer to come in so I’m feeling a bit anxious to see if the trend of a decreasing amount of cancer in my body has continued. I’m cautiously optimistic that there may be an end to chemo in my near-ish future and ability to transition to a less intense treatment to contain future growth of the Cancer. Fingers crossed!

 



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