Summer 2013 and Your Cancer Experience

How did you spend your summer and is there something special you did because of your cancer experience?

Our Cancer Experience Registry participants said:

  • My husband and I took our 30th Anniversary trip, 3 years delayed because of the cancer treatment.  I quit taking my Rx, with my Dr's knowledge, because of hideous and accumulating side effects.  After 6 months, I began to feel like myself again so we booked a trip on a little boat and took a trip from Seattle to Juneau and had a magical time.  There was another cancer survivor on board and he and I were always the last to go inside after we spotted whales, or orcas, or whatever wonderful sight we were beholding.  We didn't want to miss a moment, our moments are so precious now.  I always was thankful for my life, but I am especially so now.  Every day is a gift and I welcome it with gratitude.
  • I filled my summertime with lots of activities. We took in as many outdoor concerts as possible, vacationed in Atlantic City for 3 days and walked from one end of the boardwalk to the other and back three times....something I could not do for such a long time. I've learned to look at, breathe in, and taste as much things as I can and hold it in my memory. I try not to say, "No, I don't want to" is possible.
  • Planted a huge vegetable garden and rejoiced in the wedding of my daughter - both ways of saying "yes" to life.
  • This summer was one I will never forget.  First my grandchildren came to visit from Florida and we had so much fun.  Took them to a swim park one day and another was spent at an amusement park that my kids grew up going to.  My granddaughter made the remark that it was the best day ever!  That's saying a lot since she has been to Disney World several times.   In September my husband and I flew to Denver and took a six day bus tour thru the Bad Lands, Yellowstone, Teton National Park, and Salt Lake City and Arches National Park in Utah.  It was something we had always talked about but never did.  This year we said let’s go for it.  It was a breathing taking trip I will never forget.  God has surely made a beautiful world.  We are currently looking at trips to the Canadian Rockies for next year. I just hope there is a next year.  But God has been good to me.  Seven years and counting.
  • As 67 year old woman with metastatic breast cancer now in remission, have lived many years after my expected expiration date.  I spent the summer as the ongoing daycare for our 2 grandchildren now 7 and 9.  Our summer was filled with swim lessons, Karate, dance, football practice, vacation together and often having a house and yard full of kids, bikes, balls and Barbies.  It may get hectic sometimes, but what an appreciation I now have for the blessings of my life.  To still be here and healthy enough to be an active and involved in the precious lives around me infuses me appreciation and understanding of what I really love to do. 
  • Cancer and cancer treatment have left me much less able to tolerate temperature changes, especially heat and humidity, than before cancer.  So I do less gardening and other outdoor activities than before.  Another loss attributable to this lousy rotten cancer.  Since I have not been able to work, summer has not meant "vacation time" as it used to.  Not uplifting....but then I hope you are not going to only print uplifting stories.
  • I have watched every NASCAR Race either in person or on tv. When I was going through chemo I would get my treatments on Thursday by Friday I was on the sofa because I had no desire to move and I would just lay there and watch the races. I became a fan during that time and I am still a fan.
  • I spent much of the summer preparing for, having, and recovering from bariatric surgery (Sleeve Gastrectomy).  I'm determined to do everything I can to lower my BMI and reduce my chances of having a recurrence.  Got rid of type II diabetes and high blood pressure is on the way out the door. I'm trying to get rid of everything that was harming my health.
  • I spent my summer continuing my chemo therapy and relaxing.
  • I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in March 2012.  (Stage 3 with no bone lesions).  I underwent a bone marrow transplant in October 2012.  The summer of 2012 I and my family were preparing for the transplant so there was a flurry of activity to make sure that caregivers would be in place for our kids while I recuperated and my husband returned to work fulltime.  This summer I was just grateful to have the transplant behind me and to be able to spend some uninterrupted time with my kids.  I made a conscious effort to live in the moment as much as possible.  We got back into the routine of doing "normal things" i.e. swim lessons, gardening and spending time with friends.
  • I started riding my bicycle to work as many days of the week as I could. I also started to keep a positive attitude towards other people in my community. I used to make rash judgments about people without knowing all the facts. I imagine people would have some pretty strange thoughts about me, a long grey haired 48 year old riding his bicycle to work, the hobos on the bike trail seem to accept me more than the bike commuters I see every day. We could all take a lesson from them in humility.
  • I kayaked as often as possible. One of the things on my bucket list since the last cancer has been to do the canal system from NY to Florida. This summer I dared myself to go through 2 locks to see what it would be like. Spooky as it was to start, found out it was a breeze and now I'm really planning instead of just dreaming!
  • I have incurable metastatic cancer and am in my fifth year with the disease.  Every minute of every day is precious and so I decided that what I really wanted to do this summer was spend it in and near my garden.  Every year my husband and I prepare our flower and vegetable beds and then leave for half of the summer.  While we are gone our flowers come and go.  We stop home often enough to take care of the vegetables.  I love flowers and plan my flower beds carefully.  I decided that what I really wanted to do was be home to watch my flowers bloom.  And so I did.  There are still four to five more weeks of flowers in Pennsylvania and I'm not going anywhere until I see them through until the end.  By the way, they are more beautiful than I ever imagined.
  • I had a dream a few years ago (a real one, while sleeping). It was while I was going through chemo and it made me feel at least temporarily at peace with everything going on in my life.  In my dream I was on an island and a group of us went on a picnic by the water.  We ended up going parasailing.  It was beautiful and despite being afraid of heights, I felt so free in this dream.  This summer, over Labor Day weekend I went with my boyfriend to put in Bay on South Bass Island with the intention off seeing if I was brave enough to try it.  I was more nervous of having the harness on correctly than anything, especially when I was told that if it wasn't, I'd end up with a wedgie. But I was not afraid at all and it was exactly like my dream.  The sun was setting and tall ships were I'm the bay and I felt such a sense of being where I should be in my life and I said a quiet prayer of thanks to the Lord for letting me live to experience something so beautiful and peaceful.
  • I was able to work full-time over the summer. At that time I was still in remission.
  • My summer was not so much fun. I spent it doing chemo every three weeks. Even though it was not the summer I would have picked something awesome happened. I received a clear PET scan. NO CANCER. It made it all work it and next summer I am going to celebrate life.
  • I live in FL and spent five great days with my husband visiting grandchildren in Chicago. I have a brother and sister in MI, and I insisted that I spend time with them all long as we were nearby. My husband had to work and didn't want to take vacation time, so I found the assertive self that cancer has taught me to use, took the train to Mich. and had a wonderful two weeks, getting out every single day. I must admit we spent a lot of time shopping, and I always and blame my sister for all my purchases. I would not have done this in the pre-cancer days. 
  • Since my extended family is scattered throughout the country, I now take everyone on a summer vacation so we are all together at least once a year.
  • I used to eat a tremendous amount of sweets, sometimes I would skip a meal to eat cake or ice cream.  I was overweight....feeling tired.....this summer, I have been eating a lot of fruit and vegetables instead...I like fruit a lot more now.  I am still slightly overweight, but I exercise at least 3 times a week and feel better now. I also look for lower calories desserts that I can make and just try to eat healthier in general.
  • My husband surprised me with a return trip to Fenway Park, where he proposed 5 years ago. We got married weeks after my stage 4 cancer diagnosis and he planned the trip all summer. We saw the greatest rivalry in baseball; the New York Yankees vs. the Boston Red Sox! We enjoyed many sites that Boston has to offer, including a whale watching cruise where we saw humpback whales in their natural habitat. My cancer diagnosis has reminded all of us to live for today and not to take anything for granted. It was a wonderful summer trip.
  • I had 27 radiations and 6 chemos and I have 12 chemos to go, I have esophageal cancer..I am living one day at a time....and trying to enjoy my day as best as I can.
  • I spent my summer by being in the hospital with a broken leg.  I am wheelchair-bound with Post-Polio-Syndrome. I had polio at the age of two in 1945.  My husband was pushing me in the wheelchair and one wheel tipped into the small garden behind my daughter's condo. I fell out into a rose bush and dirt.  I felt my leg break as I fell.  I had fallen on my polio-affected leg and broken the two major bones of my leg.  My question is, "How do you deal with breast cancer when you already have a disability?"
  • I spent my summer doing fun things with my grandchildren.  My husband and I took the oldest two to a resort in the Poconos where we hiked, rode horses, rock-climbed, rowed a boat on the lake, and ate meals in a fancy restaurant.  We took the younger two to a children's garden where we rode a little train and a carousel.  We also spent some grown-up time with friends and relatives.  In addition we moved my 89 year old father into an assisted living facility, and arranged for my takeover of his finances.  Whew!  Who has time to think about that cancer I had four years ago?
  • I trained and finished the Iron Girl triathlon with Team Survivor Northwest and raised a bunch of money to support fitness programs for women cancer survivors.
  • Because of my experience with breast cancer and my willingness to talk about it, two other ladies have come to me for prayers and guidance.  I was put in touch via email with a third lady; and we have developed a bond.  It is so gratifying to use my experience to help someone else, even if only a little bit, on their journey.
  • In June, my husband and I booked a week in Disney World and shared it with our five grandchildren.  In August, we went on an Alaskan cruise, this was on my husband's bucket list, and I loved the serenity and majesty of it all.  Wonderful meditative experience.  We don't put off dream experiences anymore since my MM diagnosis. We do appreciate things so much more.
  • Just last Sunday, I participated in an all women's bike ride and rode 22 miles!  After finishing all my surgeries and chemo for breast cancer 3 years ago, I began to ride a bike again for the first time in many years to help build my strength again.  It has been totally fun, nurturing and every summer since, I have been able to go farther with less work.  Every time I go for a ride, I envision leaving cancer standing on the curb, left behind!
  • I had chemo twice a week (just shots), but I took two full week vacations and a short beach vacation.
  • Since my diagnosis of Medullary Thyroid Cancer in 2008, I have been gathering observations about the people around the people with cancer. What one says to a person with cancer, how some friends move closer while others move further away, the tremendous giving that comes from caregivers, how others react to out-of-the-box cancer humor, and many more responses I could not have understood pre-diagnosis. In the spring I published a book about these responses to people with cancer, and this summer I had my first two "readings" to enthusiastic audiences, and the whole experience this summer has been rewarding.
  • Both my husband and I are CA survivors.  Our resources have been impacted by expenses from the disease.  This summer we had a "staycation."  One of my siblings invited us to his cabin on a lake and for three days we indulged ourselves without calendar and noise.  Fishing, boat riding, walking, reading, games and crafts filled our days without guilt.  The cook outs were creative and lots of fun.  We continue to replenish, relishing the time on that little oasis.
  • YES!  I had an opportunity to join my husband on a business trip he had to Paris and Munich.  I had never been to either, so I said, why not?  It was a really wonderful trip.
  • I spent as much time in the garden as my energy level would allow.  Watching all of the flowers bloom and extending an existing bed to allow for a couple of new plants were the highlight of the summer.
  • I spent my summer in pain. I've lived with back pain for nearly a year now. I had no summer to be happy about, and did nothing special because of the pain. The pain continues. I can only hope that when I'm able to get insurance in October, the pain goes away.

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