"You may have cancer. You need surgery as soon as possible."
This was the news I received from my doctor's office literally the moment I was picking up the last pile of things out of my hotel the day I was heading out on the road full-time in my RV. That was September 9, 2015.
No one ever wants to hear the C-word delivered from their doctor. And not that there is a good time to hear this news, but the moment you are leaving the security of a brick-and-mortar building over your head (even if it was a hotel; I had sold my house a week earlier) to move into a roving home on wheels that you have sunk most of your savings into so you can continue to build your business is certainly not the ideal time.
I fell to my knees.
Then I picked myself up and said I would deal with it later. I was not going to let that news put an end to my adventure before it ever began.
But as I left the parking lot of the hotel in Fort Collins, and headed west to the mountains, the gravity of that news really started to hit me.
"You may have cancer."
I have been very quiet about this news the last few months. It has been scary and lonely and overwhelming but I wasn't willing to share the news. I wasn't prepared to hear the concern or questions about what I was going to do. I was going to travel, write and photograph. The whole reason I was doing this crazy lifestyle change was for exactly these types of situations - life is short and unpredictable and we need to grab it by the horns.
To make matters worse, I discovered AFTER the initial tests that my doctor was not covered by my insurance plan. As a result of my moving - and it literally being within days of leaving the area of insurance coverage - I hadn't even yet thought about getting that changed.
So after a long, unsuccessful battle with my insurance company I had to wait until the New Year when a new insurance plan could take effect.
Two weeks ago Friday I had surgery to remove the cyst my doctor discovered last summer. I was petrified. I had never been through such a serious surgery. And I don't do well with being down. But I have a new companion by my side and he was phenomenal - even with my freaking out and yelling at him.
It was strange to recover from surgery in an RV - and I kept that kind of news from my doctor. Not sure how she would handle me saying I was going to try to follow her orders to relax, rest and not lift more than 10 pounds from the cozy comfort of an RV parked at Horsetooth Reservoir.
But it was very comfortable. And I am sure the fact of knowing I was still living my dream would help in my recovery.
I had my follow up appointment with my doctor a week ago. This was the really scary appointment when I would hear the results of the pathology report about the cyst.
"Good news. Cyst was non-cancerous."
I was relieved beyond all measure, and so happy I had not stopped my plans to travel, write and photograph. Life is short - grab it by the horns.
So I am even more determined now to keep this plan on the road - literally. Plans have changed a bit. As I mentioned I am now traveling with a wonderful guy who takes great care of me and our pets.
Off to West Yellowstone we went the day after my appointment with the doctor. I had made plans last September with a group of fellow photographers to look for and photograph a bobcat along the Madison River. I was not going to let that unwelcome surgery change that plan, even against the wishes of my doctor.
We were not successful in photographing the bobcat but we did photograph several red fox, a raccoon, a coyote, several bison and a great blue heron. You have to always look at the bright side because there really is a bright side to everything.
I love my lifestyle and don't plan on giving it up anytime soon. I am very, very thankful I am given the opportunity to continue with this career and lifestyle path. We all know people who may not be so lucky with a cancer diagnosis; keep those folks in your hearts. And remember that when they feel a little down, stressed or beat up, give them a hug, hold their hand and tell them you love them. Let them take part in whatever activities they want and can do because life changes on us way too quickly.