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Vacation from Cancer

Written by Nik

Cancer never takes a vacation. When the disease begins the battle within a person’s body, it declares war, a 24/7 battle. Even when it has grown silent in the body, it still lingers in the mind and sadly sometimes the spirit.

Last week my family and I took a vacation to our usual place, with one less adult on the lease. I came equipped with a new book and 750 piece puzzle to keep my mind occupied from the obvious void that we would be feeling. I needed to take a break from the cancer (that I never had) that consumes me most days. But in the end, I learned a few “cancer lessons” over my week stay at Bethany Beach. The most important was that cancer DOES take a vacation! It NEEDS too…or maybe I should say a person with cancer IS allowed and SHOULD to take a vacation from his/her cancer. Who knew…and how dare they!!! (read with sarcasm)

Saturday morning, the first morning on the beach, we arrive early before the crowds and hunker down in the sand for the next few hours. Before I could even finish reading the first chapter of my book, I notice the beach filling in around us. I look to my right, I see a sea of people all different ages and sizes. I look to my left, I see a sea of…A PERSON WITH CANCER! WHAT?!?!?! That is NOT allowed! A woman, my mom’s age, was setting up her chair and umbrella with her 3 girlfriends right next to me. She was sporting her light weight bandana over her bald head and a coverup covering her pale bald skin. I was stunned. My eyes were locked on this woman. The beach is a vast array of umbrellas and towels for miles and the woman with cancer ends up sitting next to me! (How ironic on so many levels.) I slowly got up, walked down to the ocean, had a good cry hoping people around me thought I got sand in my eyes, and went back to my chair. My spiritual self knew that this was a sign from my mom that she was really there with us like she has been for so many years. My inner motherless child stared at her seeing the resemblance of my mom and longing to tackle and hug her in her chair. My warrior self said “You go girl! Enjoy your vacation from cancer even for a day or a few hours.” Even though my mom sat in almost the very same place sporting similar attire just one year ago, it never occurred to me that cancer can take a vacation. Hell, people need the vacation from cancer to breathe. My mom said it so many times. So even though I wanted to get her address to ship her a blanket, I did not say one word to her. I allowed her to be free from cancer. (Trust me, it was hard to do. Especially the one time when she was standing next to me near the water…I swear she was following me!)

The very next day, I had another run in with cancer on vacation. It was a cool Sunday evening (poured in the late afternoon) so we decided to fly a kite and play frisbee on the beach. In the water, I see 4 young children playing. From afar it appears to be two girls and two boys. As I get closer, I see that the one “boy” is actually a little girl, probably about 7 years old. She had soft peach fuzz growing back on the top of her head, the biggest smile and loudest laugh I have ever heard. From the looks of it, she recently underwent some chemotherapy. Again, I battled so many emotions as I watch this beautiful little girl play with the other children. She was running in and out of the ocean spray, playing in the sand, looking for seashells, and most likely living with cancer. Again, I was stunned. My spiritual self thought “OK Ma, I was doubting it, but now I believe you ARE here!” (My mom especially liked to walk the beach near the water in the evening.) My parental self wanted to start bawling for the pain and suffering her parents must have/are going through. (Thinking of you, Karen.) And my warrior self thought “You go girl!!! Be the child you are and not the cancer patient you have been.” How amazing she was! I thanked God for having a beautiful HEALTHY little girl. I watched my little girl’s long blonde curls flow in the breeze just so grateful. I thought about 5 year old Browyn, one of our blanket recipients, hoping that she too can take a vacation from cancer some day soon.

This was all so amazing to me. Before last week, I feel like I never saw a cancer patient at the beach. Was it that they were never really there? Doubtful. Was it that I never paid attention to cancer survivors before this year? Perhaps. Was it that I was searching for my mom and this is how she came to me? Maybe. But whatever brought my attention to these two people, they stuck with me. They flipped the switch to the imaginary lightbulb over my head.

Just thought I would share. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

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