Pat Wetzel, who writes award-winning travel blog, ‘CancerRoadTrip‘ gives us her top tips on how to travel whilst living with cancer.
- Road Food Without Fast Food
Road food is seldom health food. And for someone who consciously chooses healthy food nearly all the time, fast food simply isn’t an option for me. But what is an option, finding a market for:– Organic fruit – From the local market. I usually travel with a bag of organic apples
– Nuts – easy-peasy
– Salads – They may not always be totally organic but most good supermarkets have good salad options
– Veggies – With a bit of hummus, you have lunch or dinner!I also pack a lunch on a road trip so I don’t have to worry about finding something along the way. And overall, I cut myself a bit of slack. It’s nearly impossible to “be perfect” on the road. Just be thoughtful and consistently make the healthiest (and tastiest!) decisions you can.
- The Value of Routine in the Absence of RoutineSometimes the absence of routine is a good thing. It allows you to pause and consider what really works. It’s a chance to shake things up a bit.
But sometimes routine is good. My personal morning routine includes gratitude for 5 things each day and a half hour or so of meditation. That routine goes with me, every day, every where.
- MovementTravel usually means walking/hiking, which works for my exercise needs. I’m addicted to a set of Urban Poles (walking poles) that go everywhere with me.If I’m near the water, a bit of kayaking usually comes into play. A walk on the beach. Anything to get moving. One of the repercussions of my treatments has been terrible joint problems. I truly need to use it or lose it; so I make it a point to move.
- Staying Connected
So many friends and connections fell by the wayside with cancer. People don’t know what to do or say, so they tend to withdraw.I am deeply grateful for social media. I’ve found both fun and support on line through both my handles, @CancerRoadTrip and @AntiCancerClub. I’ve met people around the world I never would have met if it weren’t for Twitter or Instagram. And it keeps expanding my network.While social media isn’t a replacement for one on one interactions, it does offer a way to meet people who ‘get it’. The on line cancer community is growing, is infinitely kind and supportive.
Check it out. You may make some new friends!
- The Psychology of Life With Cancer
Cancer is a constant in my life. I live in that precarious never-never land between NED and recurrence.I’ve learned to manage this uncertainty with the certainty of the moment. Through meditation, I’ve learned to be more present, to live now. Travel reinforces that exquisite sense of now.
- Travel Heals
I travel out of curiosity. I travel for adventure. Travel challenges, teaches and rewards; but I also travel because travel heals.The backstory behind CancerRoadTrip is this:I created an app that modelled and rewarded human compassion towards others. It grew out of my cancer experiences and the need for ongoing social connection. I hired a company to develop it. Instead they took my intellectual property, registered it with the US Patent office as their own, and then, for months, refused to respond or speak with me. I was told it would cost at least $500,000 and three years of my life to fight this, with no guaranteed outcome.From the stress of the situation, my hair was falling out; and was being extremely sick. My oncologist just wanted to find more cancer. I’d already been through 3 rounds of chemo, surgery and radiation. I simply could not deal with more cancer. The stress was killing me; I honestly thought I’d be dead in 18 months. Why not travel while I could? So I sold my house and took off.
I started my travels almost out of desperation. But a funny thing happened along the way. I reflected on life. I experienced new things. I regained my footing; and I landed in Santa Fe, NM, a culturally rich, artistic town with a growing film industry.
What started as a blog (www.CancerRoadTrip.com) is turning into a documentary film series. We are bringing together leaders in mind/body medicine with seven people impacted by cancer. Every quarter, we open applications for a new retreat and we capture it all on film for education and inspiration.
Because we all need some inspiration. We all need a break… And because travel heals. My recent blood tests were excellent.