I ended the Planning Page with the comment Of course, this is all subject to instant
and retroactive change!!! Tune in regularly for updates. and it sure has been!!! That
page was written three months before we left and the changes that were forthcoming
Our plans changed drastically three days before we left. All of the hopes we wrote
about were heavily adapted to meet the crisis that developed then. Kathy was diagnosed
with breast cancer! And needed to have an operation! The operation could not be
performed any less than three to four weeks hence because of operating and doctor's
schedules. The operation (a mastectomy) is relatively simple and is performed on
an outpatient basis with recovery time estimated at 4-6 weeks. This sounded simple
enough, and although serious, not difficult to accomplish.
This was all three days before the bike had to be in Vancouver, BC for shipping. That
date is set and the money paid. We have our plane tickets paid and the room in Valencia
for Las Fallas is paid, altogether over $4,000. We could give this up and sit home
(and mope and cry) or we could go and then buy roundtrip tickets to come back for
the operation. Guess what we did! Of course, we went to Europe!!!
The doctor wanted to see Kathy one more time before we left and the only possible
appointment was on the morning the bike had to be in Vancouver, so Kathy stayed home
and I took the bike to Vancouver and got it packed for shipping and then met her
the following day in Seattle for our flights. She told the doctor our plans and
they agreed on an operation the first week in April, he would email us the date and
time when it was set.
Next we started re-arranging our trip plans, first to get dropped was Morocco and
the eclipse. Then we called our friends in the Azores and rescheduled our week there. Lastly
I started looking for a place to leave the bike for the month and a half we would
be gone. I looked in our GWRRA membership book for European members and found one
in a suburb of Lisbon, Portugal. This would be very convenient because we planned
to fly to the Azores from there and then home from there. So I figured out the time
difference and called him one evening, hoping he would speak English. He answered,
in Portuguese of course, and I talked in English but after a bit he figured it out
and switched to English too. His name is Nuno and he has been a fantastic help and
become a good friend. We told him our problem and asked if he could help find a
place to store the bike, he said "Of course, no problem!" And he was right, he had
it all planned out by the time we got there.
So we went to Europe, had a great time, came home and had the operation. Then came
the next change to our plans. We would not be returning after the recovery period
was over. (In fact, Kathy healed in less than four weeks and would like to have
returned.) Next was the appointment with the Oncologist who says that she needs
chemotherapy. It seems that the lump was large enough and developed enough that
it "may" have released cancerous cells into the blood stream. And chemo followed
by hormonal treatment is the surest way to reduce the possibility that the cancer
could reoccur in some part of her body. There is no way to tell for sure if it did
or not and chemo is not 100% effective in killing the cells if it did. And there
are the bad side effects with the chemo. All-in-all not a good situation.
We did a lot of research on the net, bought books, talked to friends and made an
appointment with another doctor for a second opinion. In our looking we found the
data in the chart below.
Kathy is going to do the "combined" treatment rather than just the chemo. As you
can see it gives almost a doubling of no future occurrences of the cancer, but there
is no guarantee. And if she is in the left part of the "No Therapy" bar, she is
going to all of this for naught. This data was taken from thousands of women in
several international studies and is great for predicting trends in large groups
but does not tell what a single individual can expect. And this therapy program
will add 4-6 months to the 4-6 weeks we had planned to be back home.
So now as I write this in mid-May it seems we'll not be able to return to Europe
until sometime this winter. I called the airline about the change in our return
date and found out that the return portion is good for one year. So we have to use
them before next April. We are planning to return as soon as Kathy is able to travel,
no matter what the season. If it is winter we will try to find an apartment on Spain's
Costa del Sol (southeast coast) until the weather up north turns ride-able. But
as I said once before Of course, this is all subject to instant and retroactive change!!! Tune
in regularly for updates.