By Malia Lane
Malia’s Miles Blog
How do you deal with cancer as a full time RVer? I don’t rightly know, but I guess I’m about to find out.
It’s not a class I’m taking voluntarily, but I found a big lump in my neck in March that has pretty much consumed my time since then and changed my travel plans for the summer to say the least. At first, I was told it was an enlarged lymph node and it could be caused by anything from allergies to cancer. The New Adventures of Old Malia takes you that far into the story.
Since then, I’ve gone through countless tests, including ultrasound, various x-rays, CT scan, biopsy, and PET scan. Ultrasound showed many lumps, not just the one that can be felt. Biopsy said the largest lymph node he tested was malignant. PET scan says other lymph nodes affected, too, but cancer was not found anywhere else in body at this point, so that’s the good news.
I’m now in Durango to see a throat specialist/surgeon and then both a traditional medical and holistic oncologist to see what they recommend. I’ve been told so far traditional treatment is surgery, radiation and chemo. None of that sounds good to me. But I’m going to get full info, then after my own research, I’ll see what I’m willing to do and not do and go from there.
I debated with myself about keeping this part of my life private or not. But I’ve been writing about the good, bad and ugly of my lifestyle for almost 17 years ago now. Readers tell me they learn important things from what I share. This is definitely not fun stuff like the wonderful destinations I’ve written about, but it’s real life. But I’ve already learned a lot about dealing with vital medical issues without a permanent address to call home.
Since I have decided to write about it, I vow to be nothing less than honest. For years now I’ve been told how brave I am for making my dream of fulltime RVing come true. I keep insisting I’m not always brave, but shaking in my boots scared sometimes. I also hear how inspiring I am with what I share. It is my deep desire to inspire others to follow their own dreams and not to let fear stop them. But I’m not always positive and sometimes I feel like screaming (and do!). I’ve done my fair share of crying and asking “why?” already. Other times I reach a decent measure of peace and I know deep in my heart that things are happening exactly as they should in the grand scheme of things, even if I don’t understand it in my puny mind.
RIGHT NOW I’M DOING THE BEST I can just keeping up with lining up all the various doctors with their specialties, getting records transferred between them and endless other details. I can already tell you the level of uncaring and incompetence I’ve seen in the medical profession is mind boggling. I can also testify that there are truly earth angels in this field, too. I guess that’s true of every profession, but it’s especially noticeable in the medical field when you’re dealing with matters of life and death and you’re scared and feeling more vulnerable and confused than you ever have before.
Of course I know I’m not the only one who has dealt with this kind of news. I’m already hearing from friends and family with advice, opinions and cures. I’m willing to listen, but all I know for sure is that this is my life and my decision alone. Whatever I do or don’t decide to do will be about what I believe is right and true for my path, not yours. I will not deal with judgments about what I finally do decide. I will gather all information on recommended treatments, both traditional and alternative, and indulge the research junkie in me now that I’m settled and not having to think about traveling. But I’m not going to be drawn into a debate about my choice or what anyone else thinks about it, or try to justify it.
My wonderful earth angel friend Rochelle is still parked beside me and there is no way I can explain in words what her companionship, encouragement and warm hugs have meant to me. The first morning I woke up in Durango (May 9), I realized how utterly exhausted I am, both physically and mentally. I need to just chill for a while. I was in the midst of planning this big fun Summer of 2018 in Colorado when I first found the lump in March. I was still determined to meet my goal of leaving Tucson on April 30, my 67th birthday, and I made that happen. From the start, even through all the tests and hearing the best to worst case scenarios, I truly never believed it was really cancer. So it was pretty much a shock to hear that it really was. I cancelled some of the interim plans I had for Arizona and Utah before getting here in order to start addressing the reality of it all with doctors and records. I’m almost through with that part and I’m still planning to see the other things I had planned in Colorado as I am able.
I’m really glad to be in Durango and I do believe this is the right place for me to get treatment. I’ve thought about it and I don’t care to hear any other opinions on where else I should go for more advanced cancer treatment. I have an appointment with the throat surgeon for evaluation on Thursday, but all seem to agree at this point from my records that at least this big lump needs to be surgically removed. After that, an appointment with the medical oncologist. I want to also be able to consult with the holistic oncologist even though insurance won’t cover that. I do believe in immunotherapy and hopefully I won’t go broke trying to eat healthier now.
I’m taking it one step at a time after that and trying not to get too far ahead of myself with scary Dr. Google research.
Thankfully, some things never change. When asked “What do you really want, Malia?” My prayer is always “Peace of Mind and Unwavering Faith, please. With that, I can get through anything.” I wrote the following as a goal a while back and kept it on my computer as a sticky note. I don’t even remember what was going on then, but it’s more relevant than ever now:
“This is not what I expected to happen and not what I would have wished for. But now that it’s here, I’m going to see what the Universe does with it and how it is worked out for my good. God loves me and would never abandon me.”
I know there are lots of people out there who follow and love me. I’m thankful you’re with me. I just ask that you respect my choices even when they don’t agree with yours. Prayers and beautiful beams of white light directed my way always appreciated. —Malia
EDITOR’S NOTE: The RVtravel.com staff is sending its hopes and prayers your way, Malia. Get better fast and we’ll see you down the road one day soon.