It’s day six of the first week-long vacation my husband and I have taken in two years, and it’s pretty damn good to remember what vacation feels like. Needless to say, last summer was anything but a vacation between surgeries and the start of chemo, to say nothing of leaving my awful job in the midst of that.

When we first talked about taking a vacation during the latter part of radiation this winter, I was a bit hesitant to venture too far from my doctors and the hospital, just in case I had a setback. Our original plan for retirement (and I’m finally feeling well enough to call this new phase “retirement”) was to travel extensively, and maybe even become ex-pats in another country. But that sort of went to shit with cancer, at least in the near term. I wasn’t willing to go out of the country until I was stable on my new meds, feeling stronger, and not in regular need of my cancer team. While traveling abroad will hopefully be on the agenda in 2020, our plans for 2019 have been more modest.

So here I sit in a lovely rustic cabin in the Adirondacks, looking out over a lake in which I’ve already been swimming today. Well, it’s not exactly “swimming” by exercise standards, since I really hate putting my face in lake water and being unable to see the bottom, but I do get in there a few times each day to paddle around when the weather cooperates. We’ve walked and kayaked and enjoyed the small lakeside town we’re staying in. I’m on my third novel of the trip (trust me, none of them are what you’d call brain food, but they do their job), and enjoying playing solitaire or rummy with actual playing cards. It’s been wonderfully relaxing and I’m starting to feel “normal” enough that I can almost forget what the last year has been like.

But today I remembered. We brought hiking gear on this trip and I thought I might be able to do a short easy hike. While I’ve built back up swimming-wise, I haven’t been walking as much, and I’ve found post-treatment that the heat really does me in. This town also has some hills and when we walked yesterday, I learned that I wasn’t entirely up to it. I did it, but it wore me out. So when my husband suggested a hike this morning, and explained that it would be uphill for at least half of it, I realized that I wasn’t there yet. It has been more than three years since I did any hiking, and I’ve avoided the hills at home all through treatment, so not going was the wiser course. Disappointing, but wiser. But, I can kayak for more than an hour, and swim for more than a half-mile, so I’m getting there, slowly but surely.

And it sure is nice to enjoy a vacation.

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