Dealing with cancer as full-time RVer

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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.

Malia

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.

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Ron
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Ron

Cancer is not a disease it is a condition. That means your body can’t protect itself because you are not feeding it the right foods. Do This: For 90 days no can goods, no artificial flavoring, no preservatives, no store bought prepared foods, no white sugar, no white rice, no white flour. Only whole fresh foods, fish and skinless fat free chicken, daily 3000-5000 mg fish oil, daily 2000 mg flaxseed oil, 50% of your food is fresh raw vegetables and 20% fresh fruits raw only; eat dark green – bright red – bright orange vegetables. ONLY NATURAL FOODS nothing… Read more »

Malia Lane
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Malia Lane

Ron, I do appreciate your sharing your research and what you believe in. As I’ve said before, I’m a bit overwhelmed with research and conflicting opinions. But being honest now, I just don’t believe changing what I eat at this point will cure the cancer raging through my lymph nodes and chest. And to be even more honest, I’m not about to start restricting myself from things I want at this point, within reason anyway. And eating what I enjoy is included in that. I do take vitamins, fish oil, raw apple cider vinegar and use stevia instead of sugar… Read more »

Malia Lane
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Malia Lane

Thanks for sharing your own struggles. We all have them and I believe we can learn from each other, too.

I think it’s cool that your mother is traveling around, too. Especially glad to hear she’s happier than ever!

Thanks again for your interest and blessings.

2SheckleNomad
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2SheckleNomad

It’s good that you’ve found decent doctors. I’ve been through enough of that myself. lol For some years, I didn’t have a doctor for the MS (she had passed while I was on the road). Having been caught with new symptoms lately, my children and I have had long discussions as to what options I have. I’ve been blessed with finding a good medical team where I’m at, and can get a baseline. Now that they know more about my condition, I’ll have something established for future ‘events’. Being blind-sided without a support network isn’t fun, as I’m sure you… Read more »

Malia Lane
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Malia Lane

(oops – I put my comment in the wrong place above, so am copying again here.)

Thanks for sharing your own struggles. We all have them and I believe we can learn from each other, too.

I think it’s cool that your mother is traveling around, too. Especially glad to hear she’s happier than ever!

Thanks again for your interest and blessings.

alan c smith
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alan c smith

I went through the same thing when i had a lump dome up on my neck. 50/50 survival rate. the one thing I know is that NOBODY knows what they would thing about or do unless they are in that situation. My only advise is get on an antidepressant, it helps, at least until you are finished, but if you don’t want to don’t. It is your life and your choices. I can tell you my choices and why I chose them if you want to hear them but I won’t bother you with them unless you want to hear… Read more »

Malia Lane
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Malia Lane

Alan, I totally agree that we can all speculate about what we would do about things that might happen to us, both good and bad, but never really know until we’re actually there. I’m not depressed at this point, although I have been on antidepressants before in my life. I never found them helpful enough to deal with the resulting side effects, though. For whatever reason, I’m pretty much at peace and believe things will work out as they should. I do deal with insomnia and have started taking a sleeping aid for that. Meanwhile, I’m living my life as… Read more »

Jennifer Ford
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Jennifer Ford

Thinking of you. I just finished breast cancer treatment a year ago and it wasn’t until I got cancer that we sold our 5bd home and went full-time (stationary) with kids and cats.

Malia Lane
Guest
Malia Lane

Hi Jennifer, I fully understand dealing with cancer when you’re younger and still raising kids is a whole different situation than mine. But it sounds like you’re doing what you feel is right for you and your family and I’m glad to hear that!

William Forbes
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William Forbes

Here is something very important that often doesn’t get mentioned – be sure to see your dentist before any radiation treatment. Any active decay can cause you to lose teeth, and the radiation puts you at risk for osteonecrosis of the jaw if you need to have teeth extracted later. I was fortunate my doctors knew this before I went through treatment 16 years ago., and this year again strongly recommended against having a tooth extracted because of the prior radiation treatment.

Malia Lane
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Malia Lane

I remember seeing your comment on my blog post, too, and find it so interesting. You’re right, not enough doctors are informed about all the different components or our body that become involved when they start treating one thing only. Modern medicine leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion, to say the least.

Sam Berg
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Sam Berg

I am need of throat specialist. I live near Cortez, CO. It appears you are satisfied with your doctor. Would you mind providing the name of your doctor. I looked in our phone book and it listed the following; Dr Wiley, Dr Holley, Dr Schackel, and Dr Cain in Durango.

Thanks, Sam

Malia Lane
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Malia Lane

I saw Dr. Greg Schackel in Durango. My visit with him wasn’t extensive, but I was definitely satisfied with his treatment. Besides that, his office was awesome and I found out the hard way that can be very important, too.

Sharon Wilson
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Sharon Wilson

We never got to full time. Our dream. Few months before retiring, Stage 4 Lung Cancer struck. A woman who never smoked. They took all of left lung. 16 wks of Chemo. Then 4 yrs on a target pill. I still have it in R Lung. But have out lived what they said. Target Pill so very expensive. Now not taking.anything. Just enjoying life and thanking God for each day. Will stick with very part time. Keep faith an enjoy life as what U can. Prayers your way.

Malia Lane
Guest
Malia Lane

Wow, Sharon, you’ve really been through the wringer! It just never seems fair that we plan and dream and when almost there, everything feels snatched away from you. I can only imagine the myriad of emotions you’ve been dealing with. I will follow your advice and example and enjoy my life as best I can. Reciprocal prayers for you, too!

Richard Borden
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Richard Borden

I also had neck and throat cancer, Lymph node and tonsils, I received Proton radiation treatments which is a small beam radiation and cause much less collateral damage than traditional radiation. I had 35 treatments of Proton and 2 weeks of wearing an injector pump for chemo. 3 years clean now. Side affects for me lots of mucus, dry mouth (less saliva produced), and my taste buds shot (most foods taste different now). I had a feeding tube placed about 3/4 way thru treatment, excess mucus caused swallowing problems. Lost 80 lbs but am doing good now. I just wanted… Read more »

Malia Lane
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Malia Lane

Richard, you certainly have more fortitude than I do to put up with those kind of treatments. I’ve made my decision not to take such drastic measures. Sounds to me that it would just rob me of what chance I have left in my life to feel decent. I am at peace with my choice and I’m glad yours worked out to your satisfaction, too!

Bob Hobart
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Bob Hobart

I have been full time stationary for a year now in my Presidential with a first winter trip South this winter with the MH.
Follow many blogs now for years. Haven’t seen yours till now here on RVTRAVEL.
So, now I will follow you and your adventures for years to come. Best. Bob

Malia Lane
Guest
Malia Lane

Bob, I truly hope your travels bring you as much fun as mine have!

Bob Godfrey
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Bob Godfrey

I wish you nothing but the best through a very trying time.

Malia Lane
Guest
Malia Lane

I really appreciate that, Bob – thank you!

Pat Otto
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Pat Otto

I hope all goes well for you in your recovery, Malia. I was diagnosed with CML in 2009 and, fortunately for me, that was a few years after Gleevec. The down side is that I have to take a daily pill that is dispensed monthly because it is very expensive. I’m researching how that will be delivered to me on our travels.

“Good luck” is a phrase I heard time and time again from strangers who were also Mayo patients waiting for test results. It’s not a trite wish from me, I truly mean it. Good luck, Malia!

Malia Lane
Guest
Malia Lane

Pat, I feel the sincerity in your best wishes for me. And I do appreciate it! I hope you figure out how to do what you want and get what you need as you travel, too.

Micheal Whelan
Guest
Micheal Whelan

Malia, My prayers and understanding are with you. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago and like you am determined to beat it. For two years I have changed my diet from a “normal” American diet to nearly total vegetarian. My weight dropped by over 60 pounds and my blood tests returned to normal. The tumor did all but disappear. This year the MRI indicated it has returned and more definitive treatment is being encouraged. We are part timers so I do have the advantage of a home base but am concerned about being able to hit the… Read more »

Art
Guest
Art

I too have gone to a plant-based diet in dealing with multiple myeloma. Currently I have been taken off the oral chemo and feel fine. My oncologist urges me to continue our travels and that is the plan. Going plant-based and staying away from sugar will not hurt you and should really help. Give it a try.

Marilyn Grinnell
Guest
Marilyn Grinnell

We are one year into part-time RV’ing and 5 months into my husband’s advanced stage prostate cancer. He’s midway into radiation treatments. He’s becoming pretty tired throughout the day. I jokingly remind him that naps are good regardless of age and health. He’s with an oncology team at University of Michigan, near our home. When his schedule allows us, we are planning a nice visit to Maine. We’re trying our darndest to not let this crap overcome. Michael and Malia, prayers for you.

Malia Lane
Guest
Malia Lane

Michael, I know there are many different types of cancer and ways to treat them. I hope yours can be knocked out for good now! My prayers and best wishes are sent out for your best health, too!

Gil & Marolyn Parker
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Gil & Marolyn Parker

My wife and I are/were full timers having traveled the country doing volunteer work and visiting the incredible sites here and in Alaska. While working in FL my wife was diagnosed with stage IV inoperable cancer. It meant chemo for the rest of her life however long that may be. The doctor said “Go home to your family.” Because 2 of our children live in the Charlotte NC area we made their address our address after 28 years in upstate NY. We had no doctors. We left the RV in FL and moved into our daughters home with family in… Read more »

Malia Lane
Guest
Malia Lane

Gil & Marolyn, learning to adjust to such a thing is never easy, no matter what. But acceptance and faith that things really do happen as they should, whether we understand them or not, does add a measure of peace to it. I truly wish the best for you and that you are also blessed on your own journey.

Pat and Tom Gutzke
Guest
Pat and Tom Gutzke

It may be difficult but keep your faith in God and accept what happens as his plan for you. Its impossible for us to understand the reasons for what happens to us. You will be in our thoughts and prayers. Godspeed, Malia.

Malia Lane
Guest
Malia Lane

Pat & Tom, I agree that keeping faith is not always easy, but I have found it is indeed possible, even when we don’t understand. Somehow I am at peace with it all at this point and am doing the best I can to stay that way. I do appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers, too!