Cancer can't take my vacation!


Carrie Corey

Earlier this month, I enjoyed a week on the Texas coast with my husband and 19-month-old son, Henry. With miles of ocean views, a constant breeze and tons of personality, it was the perfect spot for us to vacation from work, responsibilities and hospital waiting rooms. Whether it's Hawaii, St. Martin or the Riviera Maya, the beach is like therapy for Chris and me. In the last year and a half, we've juggled a work promotion for Chris, a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis for me, and oh yeah...let's not forget becoming PARENTS and also moving into a new house. Needless to say, we were long overdue for some time with our toes in the sand. Vacationing with a toddler and a cancer patient is a far cry from hopping a flight to the Caribbean with one suitcase and a carry-on. In those days, I would prepare for vacation with a new bikini and some flip flops. This time around, the weeks leading up to our trip meant buying a case of sunblock, refilling prescriptions, paying medical bills and shopping for sand toys and goldfish crackers. We drove almost six hours after work on Friday to get there – we couldn't wait to introduce Henry to the ocean.But instead of waking up that first morning and putting on my swimsuit, I woke up feeling bad...REALLY bad. Bad enough we jumped online to find the closest emergency room and drove 45 minutes to get there. And somewhere between handing the triage nurse a handful of prescription bottles and insisting she take blood from my foot instead of the overworked veins in my arm, it hit me: You can't take a vacation from cancer.The romantic notion of eight care-free days at the beach with my two favorite guys had been tarnished, and kind of like Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop, I just wanted to yell, "Man, I'm here on vacation!"After six hours in the ER full of ultrasounds, CT scans, X-rays and blood cultures, I received the verdict: I was rundown. One of the most frustrating side effects of anti-cancer meds is fatigue, and while I had been powering through with ibuprofen and caffeine, it had finally caught up with me. Despite all of my list-making and preparing for this trip, I had forgotten to tell my cancer I was taking a vacation.A fellow stay-at-home mom recently told me that even though her recent vacation was great, it wasn't an escape from her day-to-day activities. For her husband, vacation meant spending time away from his job, but for her, she was still changing diapers and trying to keep her child from throwing food at the dinner table – same thing, different location. Guess the same rings true for those of us in the metastatic boat. While we can vacation from everyday responsibilities like work, school and doctor's appointments, cancer is always with us, no matter how much we try to forget about it. In all my efforts to just be a regular wife and mom, cancer reminded me that I am not.Call me determined or simply hard-headed, but I took the next seven days at the beach to try and forget about it once again. When I look back on our trip to the Texas coast, I conveniently forget about our excursion to the ER. Instead, I remember the look on Henry's face when he tasted sand for the first time (he's 19 months old and tastes everything!). I remember him saying "Bye, bye" to the seagulls flying overhead and chasing the little birds running along the shoreline.It was a wonderful week!Carrie Corey was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at age 29 and with a stage 4 recurrence in 2012 at the age of 31. She is a wife and new mom living in Dallas, and will be reporting frequently on her cancer experiences.

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