Wednesday, 11 July 2012

First Post-Chemo Holiday

I'm back after a 10 day hiatus where I had no internet access.  I left on June 29 to go "camping" with my husband.  Our son was left at home and our daughter was allowed to stay at a friend's house.  We are full of gratitude to her friend's parents.  Their generosity extended to us throughout my battle with lymphoma has been tremendous and we have no way of thanking them enough.  We drove six hours to Carson's Camp at Sauble Beach.  Sauble Beach is located on Lake Huron at the base of the Bruce Peninsula.  We spent our Canada Day weekend there as we had a "Cousins' Weekend".  My parents had a seasonal trailer in this campground for many years and I spent some time here as a teenager and young adult.

One of my favourite memories and activities is to arise early and go for a walk down to the beach and along the beach before anyone else is up and about.  My memory of this always brings me peace and serenity as I remember the early morning dew on the grass, the birds cheerfully singing and rhythmic sound of the waves crashing on the beach.  It is a time where I exist alone amid the cool morning breeze with the sand sifting through my toes as I walk along the beach.  It was this memory that I was hoping to recreate each morning of my stay during the Cousins' Weekend.  Unfortunately, my body and stamina were not up to the walk to the beach, along the beach and back.  I could have walked to the beach from my campsite, but I would have been too tired to make my way back.  I could have wallowed in self-pity as I realized my current limitations but instead I decided to walk briskly throughout our area of the campground in an effort to get stronger.  We were located on the east side of the campground so my walks took me alongside the water's edge of Carson's Lake.  This is a mud bottom lake where people can go canoing but there are not motorized craft allowed on the lake and there is no swimming allowed.  My morning walks, which took place around 6:30 each morning, allowed me to see turtles, assorted birds and a blue heron.  These walks were very enjoyable as I still saw the dewy blades of grass, the quiet peacefulness of the campground before people are awake and the still water of Carson's Lake as it looked like a mirror.  After my walks, I would heat up some water in my electric kettle and enjoy a cup of instant coffee while I read my current book.  In the background, I would hear people in the vicinity waking up.  I would hear movements from other trailers as people climbed out of bed and then there would be the bang of the trailer doors as some people would make their way to the camp's washrooms and showers.  Then there would be various sounds of pots and pans and eventually the smell of eggs or pancakes.  Amidst these waking sounds, I would start to hear children's sleepy voices as they start their days.

Normally we go camping using our tent but this summer my body is not quite ready for the tent experience.  So instead we rented a small portable cabin offered by the campground.  From the outside it looked like a garden shed with wheels and a vinyl awning.  On the inside, there was a double bed on one side and single bunk beds on the other side.  In between the beds was a bar fridge and 2 electrical cooking coils to cook on which sat on a counter on top of the bar fridge.  We are used to tenting and using our coolers and our portable gas hibachi along with our Coleman stove.  We did use the fridge to keep our food cold but we didn't use the cooking coils.  There was one electrical outlet which was enhanced with a muliple plug plug-in.  There was water which was accessible through a hose on the outside of the cabin. I still had the tenting experience of heating my water to wash the dishes in my plastic hand basins.

Each afternoon of our Cousins' Weekend, we would meet up with my cousins and my siblings at one of the campsites.  We would spend our afternoons visiting and snacking.  We shared so many laughs throughout the day as we reminisced being young and meeting up on our grandparents' farm or being teenagers and hanging out at the beach.  We created new memories as we enjoyed each other as adults.  Our afternoons would continue as we all cooked our dinners together and shares meals with each other.  After dinner, we would clean up together and then head over to another cousin's campsite for the evening campfire.  I laughed so much during my Cousins' Weekend that my voice weakened and became scratchy.  I guess I strained my larynx nerve again as my voice continued to be weak throughout the rest of my holiday.  On Canada Day, my siblings left just before dinner.  My husband and I enjoyed our dinner with my cousins and then we all went down to the beach for the municipal fireworks display in Sauble Beach.

We arrived at the beach just in time to see the beautiful orange and red display of the sun setting in the west on the horizon of Lake Huron.  We set up our lawn chairs and shared our blankets as the wind was cool once the sun went down.  We could see people lighting and sending off lanterns.  These lanterns were red in colour and acted like hot air balloons.  They were beautiful to see as they floated high into the air.  As we watched the fireworks put on by Sauble Beach, we enjoyed the unexpected surprise of seeing the fireworks in Southampton and Port Elgin off in the distance.  Those displays were reflected on the waters of Lake Huron.  This was a wonderful finale to a great weekend of spending time with family.  I felt tired but happy to be alive.

The following morning my husband cooked up a full breakfast of eggs, steak, bacon and potato homefries.  We packed up and got on the road.  We stopped at my brother's farm near Desboro for lunch and another beautiful visit.  We continued on our way to Kitchener so my husband could drop me off at my other brother's place for the week.  Unfortunately, along the way to Kitchener we came upon an accident involving a SUV and a motorcycle.  This dampened both our spirits and bothered both of us as we went our separate ways during the week.  My husband continued on his way home after delivering me to my brother's home.

After arriving at my brother's home and after my husband left to continue his journey home, my sister-in-law and I went to my aunt and uncle's home for dinner.  We met up with my cousin and her husband who we had just seen up at Sauble Beach.  They had also come upon the accident with the motorcyclist and apparenty he was alive and conscious when the ambulance took him from the scene of the accident.  We all enjoyed a wondeful meal and visit with my aunt and uncle.  What a fine end to a great weekend!  It was 8:30 p.m. when my sister-in-law and I left to return to my brother's place.  I was exhausted!!!  As soon as we arrived, I fell into bed.  The bed never felt so soft as I immediately drifted off to sleep and slept for 12 hours!

My week at my brother's was wonderfully relaxing.  I slept, read and visited with my brother and his wife.  My body was so tired that I didn't feel "normal" until Thursday which was three days after arriving at their home.  On the Friday evening, my mother, sister-in-law and myself drove to Paris (near Brantford) for a bridal shower for my cousin.  It was another evening of reconnecting with family and was full of laughter as we celebrated and feted my cousin as she prepares for her wedding.  My voice again weakened as I talked and laughed alot with extended family.

My holiday came to an end on Monday when I took the train home.  Once I was on board, I saw my brother and sister-in-law waving at me from the platform.  We continued to smile and wave until the train took me away and I could no longer see them.  It is such a relaxing way to travel and was eventful as we were delayed near Brighton for grass fire.  I arrived home an hour late.  As the train pulled into the station of my destination, I was so excited to see my husband standing waiting for me.  I missed him so much.  But again, I'm tired.  This will take me a couple of days to recover but the whole ten days has been a celebration of life.  It was a mixture of full, busy days and relaxing days.  I met so many people who had prayed for me during my lymphoma diagnosis and subsequent chemotherapy and continue to pray for me as I'm in remission.  LIFE IS AWESOME!!!

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you had a wonderful time, Cathy. I'm so happy that you got a chance to go away and relax. I think you needed this time. It's been quite a stressful period all around for all of you. Sometimes getting away from it all is the best thing to do. Things will just keep getting better, one day at at time.