My Personal Cancer Journey — Reflections on a Snowbird Sojourn to Florida

For the first time in our lives, we spent a full 1/4 year in Florida, escaping a terrible winter in the northeast. Contrary to what people might think, this was NOT a vacation. All we did was move our normal operations to a new place for a while. As you will see from my reflections, there were positives and negatives over the course of our stay.

First of all, I thought very little about my cancer during the three (3) months. I feel guilty about that, but the reality is, that we were extremely busy in Florida (some of the industriousness was manufactured to reduce the chance that boredom would set in — I’ll explain later!). Although I enjoyed the weather and the experience of living in a delightful place, and although I feel that I savored the time I spent there, I am angry with myself that I was lulled into complacency regarding my lung cancer.  Perhaps I was trying to escape from the reality of my disease.

Why were we so busy? Well, we had company staying with us almost every night from the middle of February to the end of March, and even though we had great fun with everyone who came, it was still an interruption and required an alteration of our daily behavior. In the future, if we are lucky enough to return to Florida for the winter, we will limit company to a few days only.

Besides overnight guests, we entertained and were entertained numerous times during our stay. Entertaining is always stressful and requires a considerable amount of teamwork and cooperation.

When company was not the issue, I spent much of my time researching for my blog. The current series, “Where in the World is Gary?” requires extensive research and occupied several hours per day of my time. In addition, the posting of my blog and monitoring emails, etc. took another hour or so each day.

I must say that, although I never particularly liked Florida, this was the most pleasant time I ever spent there. We did very little “sightseeing” but what we did was largely focused on natural environments and wildlife and was extremely rewarding. We went to a sea turtle rehabilitation center and several wildlife refuges and preserves. We also visited the glorious Fairchild Gardens, near Miami.

We spent a large amount of time in coffee shops, although we never found one that we wanted to frequent day after day. The place that came closest to Lee’s beloved “Felicia’s” was a tiny place called “Ciao,” along Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach.

The best part of our sojourn was the effect that it had on Lee. She was in heaven while we were there and is still waxing in the glow of it all.

Obviously, even though this was not a true “vacation,” it seemed to have the same effect.  Our troubles and issues were left behind as we became immersed in another place and another culture. I think our sojourn was extremely beneficial to us both individually and as a couple. I am looking forward to doing it again next year.

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