The Beacon of Light Tour: A Road Trip to Recovery

When I first got the news that I was done with chemo, I was so excited to finally move on with my life, back to business as usual.  But, the realization that my life will never be back to business as usual hit me like a truck.  For the rest of my life, I will always be faced with the fact that my cancer could return. 

According to the American Cancer Society, “A woman with cancer in one breast has a 3- to 4-fold increased risk of developing a new cancer in the other breast.  The relapse rate for patients diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer is 20 to 30 percent and about 75 percent of recurrences will occur within five years of diagnosis.  Research also suggests that tumors that over express the growth-promoting protein made by the HER2 gene, present in 25–30 percent of invasive breast cancer tumors, tend to behave aggressively and be more likely to recur.”  And when breast cancer metastasizes, it tends to go to the bones and the brain.

I absolutely, under no circumstance, want to find myself sitting in that big overstuffed lazy boy chair hooked up to another chemo bag again.  Never ever ever again!  

So to avoid a recurrence, it is very clear to me that living my life just as I did before I was diagnosed with cancer would fall into Einstein’s definition of insanity. 

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”  So, simply stated, if I don’t want my cancer to return, I must do things differently, I must change. 

But what exactly do I need to do differently?  What do I need to change? 

Breast cancer is a tricky thing.  It is caused by so many factors, the first and foremost, genetics.  This I cannot change.  But there are environmental and psychological factors that I do have control over such as the food I eat and the thoughts I think.  I can take supplements, exercise, meditate, and change my negative thought patterns and feelings.  Louise Hay, spiritual healer and cancer survivor, says cancer is anger and deep resentment that eats away at you from the inside out.  Get rid of anger, get rid of cancer. 

It seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Just change what you eat, exercise more and control your thoughts.  Ha!  I liken it to learning to play the guitar at age 40.  It looks easy enough until you realize your fingers are set in their ways and there is no way you can get that pinky to the seventh fret, your skin is tender resulting in painful calluses, holding a pick is awkward and your brain can’t figure out the up, down, up patterns.  Simply put, it is much harder than it looks.     

Learning to play the guitar at age 40

My friend April yelled at me the other day (again).  She yelled at me because she loves me.  She said something like this.  Deanne, I know you hear me but you are not listening.  You need to take time to heal yourself.  It should be your number one job, priority above and beyond everything else.  This is cancer you are dealing with, not some flu bug.  I know you want to be there for your family.  You cook, clean, home school and drive them around everywhere but at what cost?  Your life?  That’s pretty darn expensive.  It is time to let go, to lessen your load.  Your kids are growing up.  They are old enough to take on more responsibilities.  It’s better to not be available to drive them to a play date than to not be available to drive them at all. 

I get it April, you are right.  I tend to put my family before my health.  I admit it.  If my plane depressurized and the oxygen mask dropped in front of my face, my knee jerk reaction would be to put the mask on Maggie first.  I know that the so called experts say to put the oxygen mask on yourself first so that you can assist your child before passing out into oblivion, but it goes against my instinct.  I simply was not raised that way. 

Somewhere in my lifetime while growing up, I got the message that it is “ok” to sacrifice myself for everyone else.  In fact, it is not only “ok” it’s considered a good thing.  That’s what good moms do.  Of course, I would push my kids out of the way of a speeding car to save their lives even if it meant certain death for me.  What mother wouldn’t?  But sacrificing your life to save your kid from a speeding car is a little different than forgoing yoga because I have to cook dinner.  Or is it? 

Have you seen the recent study about women’s life span in America?  A report in women’s health states that, “Women in large swaths of the U.S. are dying younger than they were a generation ago, reversing nearly a century of progress in public health.” 

I will not be a part of the swath of women dying at an earlier age than our parent’s generation. I absolutely will not!

So, how does one teach an old dog a new trick?  How do I learn to balance my responsibilities, mainly taking care of my family with taking care of myself?  How do I learn to put my oxygen mask on first?  I get it in theory, but how do I apply it?

Well, in Deanne style, I have a crazy ass plan. 

I plan to embark on a whirlwind tour around the country with my daughter in the fall, a “road trip” to recovery if you will.  I am on a mission to find new and better ways to live, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I consider this a turning point in my life, a time to re-direct my focus and come up with a plan for my second half of life.  Like Dave Grohl sings in his song “Walk” I am learning to walk again and hope to be an inspiration or “beacon of light” (yes, this also refers to my bald head) to others that may need to do the same.  I am calling it “The Beacon of Light Tour: A Road Trip to Recovery.”

Do you know that I get anywhere between 800 and 1,500 views a month on this blog from friends, family and strangers from all over the world, including over 30 states and 25 countries?  People from England, India, Russia, Germany and Israel read my blog on a regular basis.  During my tour, I hope to visit many of you, my dear readers.  This is my way of thanking you for your kind words and support.  Even if you have stayed quiet, knowing you are out there following my journey is enough to keep me writing.  

And the best part about this tour, I plan to take all of you with me on my road trip to recovery.  Since we can’t all fit in my car, I will blog about my adventures, including all the new things that I have learned along the way, the people that I meet and the wisdom I gain.  It seems pretty silly to keep all that knowledge and wisdom to myself.  

So, how does one avoid slipping back into business as usual?  How does one stop the insanity of doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results?

We change our course, one step at a time. 

We create our own road, one mile at a time. 

First stop, Arizona!

See you on the road!

12 Responses to “The Beacon of Light Tour: A Road Trip to Recovery”

  1. Tina Says:

    I only wish I could join you on this road trip, but I will be there reading your blog and sending you all of the positive healing energy I can muster! You go girl! <3

  2. Kelly Says:

    I’m in ARIZONA and I would love to see you if the opportunity presents itself! Otherwise, I’ll be content to read your blog and view your pictures! Safe Travels!

  3. RosaMaria Cordova Says:

    I would love to see you when you stop in Arizona! Thinking and praying for you, always . . .

  4. Gloria Says:

    Texas next….?

  5. Deanne Says:

    Yes, Texas next! Can’t wait to see all of you.

  6. Patricia Says:

    I love, love, love your crazy ass plan! Maggie is one blessed little girl to have such an amazing and inspiring ass kickin’ mom!!!! Muah!

  7. Alan Reid Says:

    Hey Deanne,

    Great, I’ll show you around Bavaria!!

    My last chemo is the 27th of July, cant say that often enough, and have time and energy!

    I feel I have changed very much, cant say how exactly, and at the same time old habits surface and that sometimes really knocks me over.
    But each time I become more aware of these old habits. One of the worst for me is being angry and not dealing with it at the moment it is. It is just an emotion that needs letting go and can be very justified at the moment and with whom it really should be, not swallowed, rejected, within me, for it then implodes inside of me.
    That for me is cancer, imploding energy, that I restrict within me. BBBOOOOOMMMMM!!!
    Bad news.
    One of the greatest things I heard was from a good friend, teacher, grandfather, he said:
    ‘How can I ever take care of others if I dont take care of myself first?’
    I am learning to love myself
    Saying NO when need be, a ‘no’ sometimes needs much more love than a ‘yes’.
    Watching my son, Jakes, experience my anger, he left my tools out in the rain. He wont do that again because he sees how important it is and so my anger served us both good for it was at it’s rightful place.
    I am having a great time with Jakes, me being home all the time!!
    I am a different story to his mom, he prefers his mom waking him up in the morning, gentle, loving mom, not this straight to business dad, ‘get up Jakes, move, you got 5 minutes…’ His mom works so he’s stuck with his dad. That is the reality.
    And at the same time he comes up to me and and says ‘dad you suck, you’re a loser…!’ I say ‘you think so huh, I’m the boss here..’ and then we wrestle and he goes off totally happy (he lost!!) cause he knows he can trust his dad!
    These are things I never would have experienced otherwise, so Hodgkin maligne Lymphom has become a gift to me. Not that I recommend it to others, it’s my thing.
    I feel that I am being driven by life energy to live life at it’s fullest, by whatever that means to me. Kind of scary sometimes…….. letting go of anchors I’ve had all my life
    Not my son, my friends, social field, partner, WORK (big one for me) control me, I define my life because it has to be life supportive to me.
    Things that do not do me good deplete me immediately of energy nowadays. No more bufferzones. Exhausting, and one of the greatest gifts ever!
    I find for me that by welcoming and honoring the challenge, growth and pain in my healing situation, the fear of cancer or chemo dissolve into nothing.
    Easier said then done…..
    Next thursday I go in for my next chemo

    So I’ll be seeing you soon, huh, Deanne…….

  8. Angela Says:

    What a great idea! You are so innovative :)
    p.s. I’ve read that you CAN change your genetics – changing your thoughts does change your physical makeup! I’m looking forward to witnessing your transformation. Actually, I already am ;)

  9. Cyndi Says:

    Can’t wait for the Road Trip! I’m sure to see so much and learn tons!

    On the Road Again!

  10. Deanne Says:

    Saying NO when need be, a ‘no’ sometimes needs much more love than a ‘yes’.

    I love this statement Alan. You are so right. What a learning experience this has been.

  11. Stacy Says:

    Love your road trip! Haulin ass, kickin ass, nobody is stoppin your ass from going where you wanna go! Of course I will be waiting for you in sunny AZ!
    I don’t know the answer to keeping cancer out of your life but I will support you in any way you need! My mother in law has been fighting cancer since before Louis and I got married in 1994. I am amazed by her strength and by yours as well!

    It’s time for you and Maggie to hit the road anyway – the boys have seen most of the country with your mom and dad…time for the girls!
    I love you!

  12. Tracey Says:

    Great idea! And when the universe tells us things we have to listen and you do

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