The Traveling Mask

Last month, October, was a busy month for me as it was for many advocates. It’s also the month we dread the most. Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s filled with pink ribbons as far as the eye can see and they are usually slapped on every type of purchasable product imaginable from produce to pens, clothing to coffee mugs. Most of these items don’t even benefit any legitimate organization and if they do, very little money if any go to fund research, But I digress…..

My plan for the first two weeks was to travel to Memphis to attend an advocacy training called Hear My Voice that is hosted by Living Beyond Breast Cancer and the following week I travel east to Washington D.C for the Stage 4 Stampede & Die-In.  That WAS the plan….until I got sick. Thanks to cancer and my crappy immune system, it’s never JUST a cold anymore and this definitely wasn’t a cold.  I woke up with a fever the week before my trip to Memphis. Chills, body aches. I was not going to panic. I went to my GP and she swabbed me for the flu even though I had gotten my vaccine she wanted to err on the side of caution. Due to my symptoms and my fever she put me on Tamiflu and we waited for the culture to come back. Thankfully, it was negative. I began to feel a bit better as I headed into the weekend ….or so I thought.

By Saturday night I was worse. I was beginning to think my trip may not happen. Everything it settling in my chest and my voice is totally gone. The Wednesday before I’m supposed to leave for Memphis, see my Oncologist for my regular appointment and I’m scared she’s going to tell me I can’t go. I filled her in about the past week, it’s clear I’m still not much better and she tells me based on my vitals I’m dehydrated. So, she decides to hold off my my shots and wants me to hold a week on my Chemo pills so my immune system can bounce back some more and then she sends me to the infusion room to get pumped full of fluids. Boy, did that help!  My Oncologist’s last condition was that I use a mask on my flights to protect myself from airborne germs. I could agree to that. Memphis here I come!

In Memphis, I met Melissa, Melanie and April. Otherwise known at Team Underbelly. Melanie and Melissa were there to represent The Underbelly as a vendor at the Conference and April and I were in the advocacy training. We were all very busy! The whole event was taking place at The Peabody Memphis, which I highly recommend. It’s a beautiful hotel with a Duck theme throughout. They even have a duck parade twice a day!

Unfortunately, the first night was slightly unpleasant. I ended up with viral pink eye. Realizing I forgot my glasses, I had to spend the next 3 days with one contact in my eye and one not. So, now, not only am I sick but I can’t see either. All I can say is that I’m so very thankful for good friends and awesome new friends or else I’m not sure I would have managed as well as I did.

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I had 2 days after Memphis before I had to get back on a plane and head to Washington D.C. Two days of apologizing to Bella for being away and then having to leave again, two days of irrigating my sinuses because I still can’t shake this crud and two days to unpack and re-pack for an entirely different climate. But mostly apologizing to this face and a lot of snuggling.

On Wednesday, October 11th, I donned my mask yet again and my germs and I flew to Washington D.C for the Stage4 Stampede and 3rd Annual Die-In which was going to happen on the 13th – Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. I was really looking forward to it because I knew I would be seeing friends I hadn’t met in person yet.

Wouldn’t you know, after an afternoon of walking in the woods with April and Melissa, I really started to feel awful. I sent a quick email to my GP and I ended up at an Urgent Care in Virginia getting checked out.  45 minutes later I had a script for Amoxicillin and the promise from the Doc that they would call with the results from my throat culture.  This was week 3 of being sick so I welcomed the prescription and I prayed it would knock out this virus once and for all.

Thursday the 12th was the registration for the Stampede and reception and Friday was the Stampede and Die-in. It was so great to see old friends and even better to meet new ones. The friends that you’ve talked to for months on the phone and on-line and now get to hug. That’s priceless.

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It’s been 6 weeks since I first got sick with what ever this was/is and I’m a lot better but I’m still coughing and a bit fatigued. But I was still able to travel, see my friends and make more memories and in the end that’s all that matters.