Cancer-cation is when you leave cancer behind, sort of. Of course, it’s still in you. It still defines you. It’s still the lens through which you see the world.

But during cancer-cation, you don’t talk about radiation decisions or mastectomy what-ifs, and you don’t answer when the Cancer Agency calls, and you don’t give a f*ck snowflakes are falling on your scalp. During cancer-cation, you order room service and take private ski lessons and talk about which drum-set stool your husband should buy. During cancer-cation, you spend lots of money and use your parents’ credit cards and don’t worry about the consequences. During cancer-cation, you see the First Person You Knew Who Had Breast Cancer, before you knew all the People With Breast Cancer, and you don’t really talk very much about cancer, because it’s not very fun. During cancer-cation, you drink lattes and don’t always ask for almond milk instead of regular milk, and you eat nachos that have corn in them even though the naturopath put an X over corn consumption, and you imagine coming skiing every Monday, and kind of think, maybe you should do that, and really believe it. During cancer-cation, you come home and the kitten has not destroyed a single role of toilet paper and the tulips are still alive in the vase on the table, and there is no laundry to do. During cancer-cation, you get a sort-of-cancer-break, even though you still have to be cancer on the inside of the cancer-cation.

But you don’t totally get a break. The little hammering men that have taken up residence in your bones, thanks to the latest chemo, refuse to stop hammering, though all the exercise makes them tired and they take naps. The skin flap between your fore-finger and thumb still is swollen and painful, and the skin on the bottom of your feet continues to peel off in the grossest possible side effect you could imagine. When you’re skiing down the mountain, you still know you have cancer, and on the massage question-sheet, there’s a spot to check “cancer,” and you do. And then the masseuse takes it upon herself to give you a hundred cancer-tips even though she’s never had cancer, and so you leave her a very reduced tip and a note explaining being told to juice daily and read certain health food books is not very relaxing. You still wonder if the pain in your finger nails means they will fall off, and you wonder if your ski goggles are enough to camouflage your eyelash-less eyelids, and then later when you see people without the goggles you wish you’d glued on eyelashes. You still wonder if maybe you should just tell the plastic surgeon to fix your cancer boob up with the belly fat, and leave the healthy boob untouched, even if that means they are uneven.

But, it’s still cancer-cation. It’s still kind of awesome. It still means you get home from cancer-cation and take bubble baths and eat canteloupe and berries and cheese. It still means you’re so excited to only have three chemos left. It still means wine means something special. It still means you had a whole ton of fun with the Argentine ski instructor and Sammy on the slopes. It still means there’s no dissertation and no grading and no music composing and no students and no postdoc apps until tomorrow. We like those things, but they’re better when you get to come back to them after the spa and ski. It still is awesome.

My body will be tired tomorrow, in that awesome kind of “I did something” way. I’ve been tired that way for the past few days, thank you kick-boxing. A word on kick-boxing: I think all the cancer-people should do it, and everyone else, too. As the yoga teacher who took me put it, “it’s great for the rage.” She’s absolutely right. So satisfying. Hitting things is really, really awesome. Loved it, and my calves felt it for a day or so. Enter, spa. Problem solved. Generally, though, sweating a lot, working my ass off, risking whizzing down mountains, trying to hold postures longer, kicking pads, hitting tennis balls, lifting heavier and heavier and heavier weights- awesome, makes me feel better, more alive. Less dead.

I think I need more active moments in my life. More kick-boxing. More yoga. More outside. More ski. More swim. More hiking. More movement. More, more, more.

Cancer-cation, I want more of you.

P.S. As a side note, this is Presidents’ Day in the States. Which means it was a great weekend for us to escape, though Canada doesn’t celebrate Presidents’ Day weekend, because this is the weekend my fam always went to “the snow,” a.k.a. Tahoe, though this weekend I think I’m the only one anywhere near the snow….

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