First Vacation

The cover photo of my book, A Walk with Purpose, is an image of me hiking on the Iceline Trail located near Field, British Columbia in Yoho National Park. Linda Becker took it during our first family trip to the area back in September 1998.

Photo of my parents, Linda and Ted Becker, with baby Rosie taken during our 1998 family trip to Lake Louise.

When I decided to take a break from chemotherapy treatment in March 2018, my parents generously offered to include us in a trip they already had planned. Unfortunately, Lorie and our daughters weren’t able to go due to a variety of logistical issues.

It’s been nearly 20-years since that initial visit, but last Saturday I returned to Lake Louise, a hamlet in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies. I knew a week-long vacation with my parents, grandmother, and aunt would be therapeutic—and I wasn’t disappointed.

The trip was my first vacation since being diagnosed with Stage IV cancer in late 2015. Moreover, for the first time, the word “cancer” didn’t enter my thoughts with its usual frequency. Instead, I was able to relax and finally appreciate what people mean when they say “live in the moment.”

With the deleterious effects of chemotherapy fading, my appetite and stamina improved enough to feel confident in making the journey far from home. My hair has also returned, although I don’t recall it being quite so thin or silver. My eyebrows have grown back, and my eyelashes are slowly recovering as well. So, I no longer look like a fetus when I remove my glasses—which makes me happy.

Lake Louise looked very different from our prior visit during the autumn season, but still quite beautiful. The Rocky Mountain Fir, White Spruce, Tamarack Larch, and other native trees had green foliage instead of the yellow hues I recall. The mountain tops were blanketed in more snow. Most of the lakes were still frozen, and many trails were closed due to avalanche risk (including the Iceline Trail).

Fortunately, we were blessed with sunny skies and daily high temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celsius). A short-sleeve shirt was comfortable during most of the trip, although it seemed out of place given the wintry backdrop.

Aside from nature’s splendors and the fresh, crisp air, it was nice to spend quality time with my family. Nowadays, we mostly see each other around holidays, birthdays, and other events. However, the trip provided ample opportunity to converse without the hustle and bustle of food preparation, cleanup, etc.

It was one of the most prolonged periods of time away from Lorie and our girls, so I’m happy to be back home now. Next month, I will have my first CT scan since stopping chemotherapy, and it will be interesting to see how cancer has behaved (or not) during my respite. Regardless, I’m glad that I took some time to simply enjoy life and thankful that my parents made it possible.

PS – I placed a selection of photographs from the trip in a separate gallery that can be viewed by clicking here.

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8 thoughts on “First Vacation”

  1. Thank you for sharing those beautiful pictures of your vacation. I will continue to pray for your healing. God bless you and your family.

    Gina

  2. Thank you for sharing your beautiful vacation pictures and story. An inspiration for all of us to live life to the fullest. Toast to many more wonderful moments.

  3. Thank you for openly sharing your story. I’ve been following your blog that I came across early this year and it is helpful. I just bought your book and am looking forward to reading it. My husband is Stage IV with SCC. His began in his lower leg with PNI, poorly differentiated, and traveled to his inguinal lymph nodes with spread to tissue. It’s aggressive with dx only this past Jan. He has been traveling back and forth to MD Anderson since Feb and we’re about to obtain another opinion from M. Sloan Kettering. Navigating the cancer world is an eye opener. I admire your honesty and just wanted you to know your writing about this is very much appreciated. Prayers and best wishes.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. I was just diagnosed with a parotid tumor and for the past few weeks, have had a dizzying amount of scans, biopsies and doctor visits. More tests next week should result in a more definitive diagnosis. It’s all very scary and road ahead will be long and unclear.

    I stumbled onto your blog by way of google. I admire your honesty and balanced approach. Right now, I am struggling. Your words give me comfort.

    • Thanks Tom. Sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but thoughts and prayers coming your way!

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