I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before it not, but Bob and I own a double lot in a campground on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. It’s my happy place. We generally spend as many spring and summer weekends as possible at our little Redneck Paradise (Trails End is the name of the campground) and over the past six years since we’ve owned there, we have made some wonderful, incredible friends.
We have not been down since the dreaded 4th of July, when my world got really complicated.
You see, when we went down for the fourth of July, I came down with what I thought was the worst virus in the world. I hurt all over, and swelled up like a balloon. I went to the doctor several times, to try to pinpoint the source of my illness. Eventually, my doctor thought it might be myocarditis, and sent me for an echocardiogram. It was done on the same day I had my pelvic MRI that found the lesion in my uterus. Turns out, what I had was not myocarditis, but cancer, spreading into my lymphatic system.
I love our place in Trails End for some may reasons. It’s the place I can let myself be, well, myself. I can laugh, and joke, and hang with friends at a dance or around the campfire. I can crab, and fish, and sit by the pool with my sister or sit on the beach and watch the dolphins swim by. Trails End is my happy happy happy place. And I have really missed it this summer.
I was feeling better this weekend. A lot better. Initially, we had planned on going back down to Trails End for the entire weekend next weekend, before my next infusion. This was the time in which Dr. Rao determined I would be least at risk. We had to go down and close up for the summer (we’d left in kind of a hurry when I got sick, with every intention of going down for a week in August). So next week it was. And I was so excited about going.
On Friday morning, I woke up feeling like myself. And suffering from cabin fever. Since it was an absolutely beautiful fall day, I told Bob I had to get out of the house. So, I packed us a picnic lunch, and we decided to drive the hour and a half to our second favorite get-a-way – Gettysburg – to spend the day and have a picnic lunch on the battlefield. While we were driving up, we were talking about our trip to Trails End next weekend, and low and behold, Bob remembered that he has a DJ gig next weekend. Shit.
So, we decided to get up early yesterday and head down for one night. We’d close up for the season, and then spend the evening with our friends.
And that is just what we did. We got up at 6am yesterday, packed a few groceries and some overnight clothes, threw the dog in the car (and after one false start that involved me forgetting to put cat food down for the cats) we headed to our trailer for the weekend.
And what a lovely beautiful wonderful weekend it was.
The campground has a monthly horseshoe tournament each month, and yesterday was the monthly board meeting, so many of our wonderful friends were down. In addition, there was a family dance last night out at the pavilion (Trails End offers many amenities for the property owners, including an olympic sized pool, marina, pavilion, club house, store and restaurant). So, when we got down yesterday, we did what we had to do, and then rode over to pavilion to watch the tourney. And see our friends.
And I was greeted by some of the best friends in the world a girl can ask for. I was greeted with hugs and love, and my spirit and well-being soared. We spent about a half an hour up at the tournament and then we went back to the trailer and took a nap. Because being social took a lot out of me. After our nap, we had some dinner, and then changed into our jeans and headed out to ride around the campground. After our ride, we went back to the pavilion for the dance. We had such a great time. The best medicine for a cancer patient it to be surrounded by people who love them.
I have seen many people who go through a serious illness find out who their friends truly are. As a matter of fact, I went through that myself when I had my gastric bypass surgery three years ago. I had made a pretty good group of friends prior to my surgery through obesityhelp.com. But when my surgery was more successful than theirs, the friendships fizzled. And it was hurtful. I am still friends with a couple of those women, but some of them I have nothing to do with. And that’s ok. Like I said, things like this make you learn who your friends truly are.
Over the past month, I have been showered in love by our friends – both close and far away. I have received gifts, and cards and flowers (even got flowers from my physical therapist who worked on my back when we thought my back pain was caused by spinal stenosis and not cancer). I have gotten emails and phone calls, and all of them just service to boost my spirit. And there is no better treatment than that.
None at all.
I am so appreciative of all my friends who have thrown their good thoughts and prayers my way through this ordeal. And what we even better, this past weekend, was after the initial, “You look good, and I’m so sorry you have to go through this,” my friends quickly dropped the subject. The conversation wasn’t about CANCER. It was about picking up where we left off in July. It was about laughing, and shots of apple pie (which alas, I had to decline because I’m not allowed to have alcohol while on chemo), and plans for next spring (a trip with friends up to Cumberland, MD for the weekend) and plans for next summer, and hunting season, and “Oh my good lord, how much has that woman with two teeth had to drink?” It was about sharing a dance to Charlie Pride’s Kiss An Angel Good Morning with my husband. It was hugs and kisses and laughing and joking. And duck farts. I can’t explain those, but look them up.
And I feel infinitely better. And stronger. And ready to tackle whatever comes next.