“Life is a preparation for the future; and the best preparation for the future is to live as if there were none.” - Albert Einstein
There was about a one or two week window between diagnosis and my first treatment. It was during this time which I quickly realised that it could be the last time in a very long time that I would feel my well self. With chemotherapy and it’s unlucky dice of side effects looming, I could either sit and feel sorry for myself or go in to (for the lack of a better term) YOLO-mode. Having lived in London for a while now, I’d done my fair share of traveling the UK and Europe, however still remaining on my bucket list was Italy. Growing up in Australia, I learned Italian at my local primary school and had a handful of lovely Italian friends (whose lunches made me jealous). The curiosity had been there since I was little and the country was on my doorstep. The only thing that had previously held me back was thinking I’d need a lot of time, money and annual leave to do the trip justice. YOLO-mode quickly threw these excuses straight out the (aeroplane) window. Sitting at my desk on Friday afternoon, I spontaneously booked Rome bound flights departing London Heathrow at 6am the next morning.
After a sleepless night of packing and booking in hotels and transfers, my sister and I arrived in Rome with a hopeful to do list… And of course my travel savvy chihuahua Henry. Although the sky was pouring down with rain, it wasn’t about to dampen our spirits as we set off on the weekend I’ll never forget. In a matter of hours the Colosseum I’d studied about; Vatican City where nuns giggled at Henry; and the Trevi Fountain which I remembered all too well from that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen movie came beautifully to life. After a day of frolicking in the rain and celebrating life, we whisked off by train to Venice arriving at our hotel at midnight.
The next day was pure bliss and much more manageable with only one main point on my bucket list; GONDOLAS! We set off walking beside the beautiful canals and taking in the unique car free existence of Venice. Soon enough we found a friendly gondolier who showed us the magnificent sights in our own private gondola. The water was so blue and stunningly clear, the complete opposite of the River Thames. We continued the day by visiting/being attacked by pigeons in St Mark’s square, Venetian mask shopping and eating the most delicious pasta I have ever tasted.
Our jam packed trip concluded the next day after one last stop over in Pisa. Although Pisa is a bit of a “one hit wonder” with the Leaning Tower, it had a beautiful and much needed slower-paced feel. We wandered through the streets, ate pizza, gelato and finished the trip with the perfect shot:
It was really special having one last getaway where I was still “normal”. No one could tell I had this awful disease inside of me. One of my pet peeves throughout my cancer journey has been that look people give you when they find out you’re sick. They go from smiling and treating you normally to looking at you like you’re the walking dead. On our holiday we looked as innocent as anything, two smiling blondes and a chihuahua exploring Italy without a care in the world. I put all of my negative and scared thoughts on pause and just lived. Nothing could bring me down, not sickness, not people, not money, work or stress. Even though it was only for a few days, it was absolutely euphoric.