One thing about being diagnosed with Cancer or having someone you love being diagnosed with Cancer, is it does make you reevaluate your life. You rethink your priorities in life, what is important, what isn’t, what you put up with, what you won’t, what you should do, what you shouldn’t, what makes you happy and what doesn’t.
This self evaluation doesn’t necessarily happen overnight and may not even happen while you are in treatment but at some point Cancer will most likely change your outlook on life and how you answer some of those questions above.
Now with us, I think the change has been quite subtle, we haven’t gone from one extreme to another, we haven’t become vegetarian, started living in a commune, taken up religion, pole dancing, bungee jumping or anything out of the ordinary but we looked at what we liked doing and have vowed to do that a bit more often.
We have always liked to have the odd night away and luckily we have had the opportunity to do that once or twice a year on top of our normal family holidays. We have been blessed with Jo’s Mum and Dad living close by when the kids were small and now with Jo’s Mum living in the Annexe beside us, we were never without a baby sitter.
Our nights away were something we always cherished, a chance to get dressed up, let our hair down, without worrying about the kids. It was also nice to go somewhere different, somewhere you wouldn’t bump in to anyone you know, a bit of escapism if you like, we could drink, laugh, dance, be merry and we did.
How we changed
So when Jo was diagnosed in 2016, our nights away initially all went on hold while she battled through the treatment, but as soon as the treatment finished we realised it was something that was missing from our relationship and we wanted it back. So with treatment finishing in September 2016, we had a family holiday in October to Cyprus and then shortly after that we booked a night away at an old haunt of ours near Croydon where we used to go in the years before.
Once again we were back to being Jo and Kieran the slightly foolish couple, laughing and joking, drinking slightly too much and not just, Mum and Dad. The night went really well and we both agreed we should do this more, so for 2017 we decided there and then to try and go away for at least 1 night every month.
It didn’t have to be expensive, it didn’t have to be far from home, but it had to be away from our house, We also agreed that when we had family trips that would count as well but the vast majority would be night’s away for just the two of us.
Here’s where we went in 2017.
January – Lewes
February – Brighton
March – Eastbourne
April – Horsham
May – Lewes
June – Windsor
July – Horsham
August – Richmond + Spain
September – London and Essex
October – Croydon + Prague
November – London
December – Lewes
So as you can see most of the time we kept close to home in Sussex or surrounding area and on three months (August, September and October) we managed two trips including a 4 day trip to Prague with some friends and a week in Spain with the kids.
In 2018 so far we have also kept the same rule, despite the fact Jo’s Cancer has returned, fitting in trips around chemotherapy and we have trips booked into the middle of next year. We intend to continue this while we can afford it and while our health allows us.
We really do cherish the time we spend together, people watching, eating nice food, occasionally dancing and on a few occasions singing (I love a Karaoke when I am a little merry).
That was us, what about you?
So we love our nights away, but obviously that’s what works for us, everyone is different and for some people that might be the last thing they want to do, so what else might you like to do?
Well some of that may depend on whether you are under treatment or not, whether your partner’s health is up to it, you have to do things that you can enjoy without putting too much strain on the patient. Do things that are achievable, you don’t have to go sky diving, or on extravagant trips, it might be just going to the cinema, theatre, a walk or drive in the country, dinner at your favourite restaurant, family time with the kids.
Also if the patient has an interest in a hobby and it is something they physically can do, then now would be a great time to encourage them to do it, whether that be painting, pottery, birdwatching, knitting, gaming or even scuba diving, if it can make the days shorter and relieve boredom and stress it can only do them good.
Whatever you do, make sure it’s fun and also try and do it as often as you can, both financially and physically. One of the things my wife has found particularly hard is filling her days as she is currently off work. She has to have something to look forward to and to plan for and this is part of why we arrange these regular trips, it is good for her morale and her general mental health to have something to focus on and something positive to look forward to. On top of that it has brought us as a couple even closer together and made us loads of great memories, may that long continue.
As I write this Jo has just booked another 5 trips away, 2019 is looking full…….I better do some more overtime!!