Vacations and Breast Cancer Treatment

In my previous post, I outlined all of my miracles and angels on my way to my vacation destination between the finishing of 5 months of Chemotherapy and the start of 7 weeks of Radiation.   On the flight down, everything went better than planned and “angels” were present every step of the way to help me.

Not so coming home!  I was now a seasoned Breast Cancer Survivor traveler, Lymphedema expert, and had learned how to navigate security with wigs, foobs, boobs, and ports.  Time for a little test!

You know you are in for trouble when you get seated on a jammed pack plane, and the Co-Pilot announces that they “hotwired” the plane for the engines to start on the way down to pick us up.  But sit tight in your upright seat with your locked tray table and we are going to attempt to start Engine #1, then cross start Engine #2!   So we all sit on board, holding our breaths, starting the Rosaries, listening for the turning over of the jet engines, but alas, nothing happens.  Oops, the plane needs a new starter, or so they tell us, so we are sending you all off the plane back to the terminal because it is 90 degrees in the plane, and we’ve already been sued over that deal.

We were told that it would be a 2 hour delay, then a 4 hour delay, and finally a 6 hour delay as the part had to come from Atlanta!   So many people were on connecting International flights through the destination hub city, it was a real mess.   It was my home airport, so I decided to wait it out.

Six and one-half hours later, we boarded the same airplane.  I could see the Mechanics “fixing” the plane out of my aisle seat window which included the mechanics getting numerous rags from their truck and sopping up oil.  Wow, did that give me the confidence!  The rag soaking took another hour and a half.  We took off 8 hours late!  By this time the plane was just over a third full as many people scrambled to take other longer, more complicated routes.  And of course the thought crossed my mind many times that since I made it through all that Chemotherapy, I sure as heck didn’t want to die in a plane crash just when I started feeling better!

What did I learn from this rather grueling and tiring experience?  I realized the flight home was so much like Breast Cancer Treatment.  There were many parallels.

1)  I have no control – I could only trust the people in charge who were the experts.

2)  Much patience is needed and so much waiting along with much discomfort.

3)  Delays happen on your progress and that is normal.

4)  I stayed the course, did what I was told, did not take any shortcuts, and trusted I would safely reach my destination which I did.

5)  And there were rewards–the airline gave me two food vouchers and after my gentle insistence, a monetary credit for the full cost of the return flight.

If you are going through Chemotherapy and can possibly arrange some time away for a vacation before Radiation starts, do it!  You will be terrified to leave home, question your judgment, and be scared to death that you will end up in a hospital while you are gone.  But do it anyway!   I came home feeling like a totally different person..  I left feeling like a battered, beaten, defeated and exhausted cancer patient.  After 9 days away, I felt like a strengthened, seasoned cancer survivor ready to continue the journey



  1. Glad you got back safely after all that delay and uncertainty! I like your advice, too, regarding the wonders of taking such a vacation! It’s got me thinking…just where would I like to go for a wonderful little while? Thanks! And best of luck to you going through radiation. I am on the same course of treatment and have just finished chemo a week, two days ago. Robin

  2. Hi Robin, glad we can get through this radiation together! Even if you could only get away for a couple of days on a driving vacation close to home, it would do you a world of good! It cleared my head of all of the Chemo confusion. I am no 3.5 weeks out from Chemo and feeling better every day! I hope that you do the same! Denise

    • Denise, Thanks for that ray of hope! So far I can still feel the lingering effects of chemo..though thankfully, they are lessening. I am wondering did you also have surgery? I am seeing the surgeon this Tuesday. I have been having so much dread about this part of the treatment! I do want to have reconstru ction eventually. I look at that like light at the end of a dark tunnel! You know? Are you scheduled yet for radiation treatment? Be well, new friend, Robin

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