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Travel Is Part of My Recovery Plan

by Bisa Myles

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Traveling, no matter how far or near, helps me focus. I call it my therapy.

Before I had ever taken my first trip, I knew I loved travel. As an adult, I’ve managed to go on at least one solo trip a year. Less than two months after returning from a three-week-long trip to Thailand and Bali in 2015, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was 41.

I had promised my primary care physician before I left that I would get my annual mammogram when I returned. What I had thought would be a routine test turned into a diagnosis that changed everything – stage II triple negative breast cancer.

I was determined to not let cancer halt my plans to travel. To prepare for chemotherapy, I spent the weekend in downtown Chicago. Even though I live less than 45 minutes away, the quick weekend trip gave me an oppor­tunity to mentally prepare myself for the months ahead. Traveling, no matter how far or near, helps me focus. I call it my therapy.

I was determined to not let cancer halt my plans to travel.

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After eight rounds of chemotherapy and a lumpectomy, I rewarded myself with a weeklong trip to Florida to stay with relatives. I had to go somewhere. I had to feel like I was in control of something. Travel was the only way I knew how. And, as a single, full-time working parent raising three teenage girls, I desperately needed a break. I spent the week sleeping in and loung­ing by the pool.

In March, I came across an unbeliev­able flight deal to Sydney, Australia. I could fly roundtrip from Los Angeles for less than $600. There was no way I was passing that up.

If you’re going to vacation in Aus­tralia, you need more than a week. I decided to take four. I didn’t reveal my plans to many people because I was afraid they would try to talk me out of them. I finished radiation in July. By October, when I was sched­uled to jet off to Australia, I would be well on my way to recovering physically.

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When I arrived in Sydney, I was surprised by how easy it was to get to the beach. So, I walked on the beach almost daily. It wasn’t until I arrived at the Gold Coast that I experienced my most healing moment. The first morning I was there, I walked to the beach. As I looked out at the ocean, all I could do was cry. I cried, awe­struck, as I took in the beauty of God’s creation. I cried because I had finally fulfilled a lifelong dream to visit Aus­tralia. I cried because I was ALIVE.

I know not everyone can – or wants to – travel around the world. The objective is to find that one thing that inspires you to carry on through the challenging times. Travel is mine. What’s yours?

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Bisa Myles is a breast cancer survivor, writer, and photographer living in North­west Indiana. She blogs about her travels at MylesToTravel.com. You can find her on social media @mylestotravel.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, November/December 2017.