Chemo and the Keys (post #5 in my 30 in 30 series)

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I remember when I was waiting for my biopsy results, I thought to myself, “if I get diagnosed with anything, I’m taking off for the Keys.”  Here’s what it sounded like in my head: “Sonia – you’ve just been diagnosed with the Big C – what are you going to do now?  Well, Regis, I’m not going to Disneyworld – I’m going to Key West!”  Unfortunately, I did end up getting diagnosed with something – stage 2, estrogen and Herceptin positive breast cancer, to be exact.  Fortunately, I live in South Florida and am a short road trip away from the beautiful Florida Keys.  I’ve been there many times and have always felt relaxed and at home there.  So, a few months into my treatment, we decided to take a little 3 day get away to Key Largo.  I remember trying to find a place that was affordable – my medical bills were mounting and I was out of work on short-term disability.  It wasn’t the smart thing to do financially, but emotionally I had to get away.  I tried asking hotels if they had any discounted rates for cancer patients or any special programs that would make it easier on my wallet, but no one did ( yes, I tried to play the “cancer card”, to no avail) .  I stuck this in the back of my mind as something to work on in the future.  Here’s an excerpt from my journal dated July 26th, 2011:

I’ve always wanted to own a little shop in Key West – something like a combination coffee shop / wine bar / art gallery / bookstore.  Today, I thought of another idea based on what I’m going through now and trying to find an affordable place in the Keys to get away for a few days.  I’d like to own a small hotel or condo and make a few rooms available at low or no cost to people going through treatment for cancer.

I really hope to be able to do this one day.  Anyway, I was able to find a great place in Key Largo that was on the water and didn’t cost a fortune.  I remember the morning we were supposed to leave I was extremely nauseous from the chemo and threw up three times.  I was determined to go on my trip however, so I popped a few anti-nausea pills and off we went.  It was wonderful.  I got to watch my daughters play carefree in the water and watch the sunset with my partner.  We visited a dolphin rescue facility and played UNO on the beach.  It was perfect – despite the fact that I had lost the ability to taste because of the chemo and our car breaking down on the way home, it will always remain my favorite and most treasured trip to the Keys.

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