You know those holidays where once you get home you just want to lay down and remain horizontal for a week? Well, that’s how I felt coming home from my Orlando trip. I needed a vacation from my vacation. I had a fantastic time. But I desperately needed to crash and relax.
Unfortunately, two days after returning, I was thrust right back into my reality of bloodwork, hospital visits, and anxiety. I had CT and bone scans one day and my Oncologist appointment the next. Not the most restful of days, post-trip. Thankfully the scans showed everything is stable and I can continue with the same treatment!
A part of me knew it had to be good results because I did amazingly well the entire trip. There were times I thought - Who has cancer? I do, I guess. But it sure doesn’t feel like it. No pain or stomach issues and my stamina remained great.
On the Universal and Disney park days, I was averaging at least 25,000 steps a day according to Gil’s Fitbit. The most satisfying part of those park days was getting back to our hotel and taking my socks and shoes off while giving an audible “ohhh yeahhh”.
I’m so glad my body cooperated. I also can’t express enough how awesome it was to go on all the rides.
There’s this cliche saying that living with terminal cancer is like mentally and emotionally riding a roller coaster - there are ups and downs, twists and turns, and scares. And it’s completely accurate! Putting all of that aside to physically enjoy the thrills of an actual ride was an incredible feeling.
The Universal park’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter exhibits provided more magic than I could have hoped for. The escapism, wonder, and excitement were exactly what I needed. Diagon Alley in Universal Studios was enchanting with all the details and fun from the books. And the Escape From Gringotts ride had tears streaming down my face. Move over hiking in Germany, this ride was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. Hogsmeade and Hogwarts castle were stunning, but Diagon Alley wins the day.
Our day at The Magic Kingdom was all about survival. The crowds and the heat were almost unbearable. A ride attendee told me they expected to have 80,000 people that day. I was able to access their disability pass which allowed us to come back to each ride at a designated time so we didn’t have to wait in line. This was essential and so helpful. We made it on all the rides I had hoped for: The Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight, Little Mermaid, Seven Dwarfs' Mine Train, and Splash Mountain.
The Animal Kingdom was our favourite place. It had a completely different vibe than the Magic Kingdom. Gil wanted to go here because of the Avatar Pandora World. Again my disability pass came to the rescue and got us on The Flight Of Passage ride without having to wait nearly three hours in line. A fan of the movie or not, who doesn’t want to have the simulation of flying? I was once again balling the entire ride and afterward Gil and I shared a good cry. Another amazing experience was the Expedition Everest coaster. It was the only time a ride really had me freaked out about my body. As seen in the photo below the expression on my face and body language screaming, “What am I doing? I have cancer in my cervical spine!!!” In the end, I was okay and it was the best ride ever!
Our last two days were more restful and the only rides involved navigating traffic in our rental car. Thursday we drove half an hour to get to The Meatball Stoppe a restaurant that was featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. As Gil drove us through the thick Orlando traffic she said, “these meatballs better be worth it.” And they were. It was a fantastic meal. Friday we drove to Clearwater Beach; We spent more time in the car than on the beach or in the Gulf of Mexico. But again, it was totally worth the drive.
And just like that our vacation was over.
I had such a great time with my dearest friend, Gil. Lots of great laughs and memories made. I also have a renewed sense of confidence in myself post IV chemotherapy. I was worried about travelling and how my body would respond. I guess that worry will always be there. But this trip proved my body is strong and resilient.
Most important, from now on when I’m laying still getting a scan or frozen in fear waiting for scan results, I can reminisce about the time I zoomed through the deep dark bowels of Gringotts Bank in Diagon Alley.