As someone who has traveled extensively, my best trips include fun and loving companions, a non-rushed pace, a safe and pleasant place to eat and sleep at the beginning and end of each day, plenty of fresh air and exercise, and trustworthy maps. It is the same for cancer treatment.
Surgery, although a serious business, seems dwarfed by the life-saving treatments that follow. For, they come with a price: a varying degree and array of side effects. Specialists — radiologist, pathologist, surgeon, radiation oncologist, oncologist — oversee different stages of treatment. In the meantime, the patient and her/his family are digesting all of the information and considering decisions based on what the specialists recommend. What I have learned journeying through the land of cancer is that one needs a few additional travel partners, besides the specialists listed above, if one wants to be on a healing journey versus a medical journey. In my case, my travel partners came to include: a homeopathic nutritionist, a physician at the Simm/Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, a holistic family practice physician, and Dr. David Servan-Schreiber’s book Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life. With the help of my travel partners, I never felt completely lost. Most importantly, I had the chance to feel empowered versus victimized. I felt I could help draw my healing map, rather than having others draw it for me.
Edward Readicker-Henderson’s essay “Cheating Death” in National Geographic Traveler (May 2012) was a helpful reminder from a fellow traveler that being alive means living and being in the moment. For me, that meant (and still means) finding the best surroundings (place & people both) so that I can focus on “the view.” Travel helps. Loving companions help. Healing companions help. They turn “surviving” into “thriving.”
As Readicker-Henderson writes, “Traveling teaches us to dare, again and again, to say yes to the moments of wonder, so many of them, blown across the landscape with the generous weight of seeded flowers— and to share them with the people we hold dear.” Read Readicker-Henderson’s essay at http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/cheating-death/