“Are you okay?” Ian asks for the hundredth time as we sit quietly in a Paris bistro. A day earlier our dinner had begun with a happy sense of anticipation. Sadly, it had ended with Ian trying to explain in french that I was sick because I had cancer. I had made it outside but only to the front step before I puked all over myself and the entrance.
I was horrified. Ian was horrified. The restaurant had given us a complimentary bottle of champagne. The food had been delicious. This was my first trip to Europe. I was supposed to be having the time of my life. I needed this vacation. I wanted to feel new again. This was supposed to be a vacation from cancer. Sadly my stomach had not complied. To be honest it hasn’t complied since we found the three new tumours in my brain.
Lately food has been my biggest struggle. The pressure associated with eating makes me want to run and hide every time there is a meal. It feels like I’m walking on a tight rope. A meal is no longer just a meal. Now when I eat my mind starts going a mile a minute.
“Will this taste funny?”
“Will I be able to swallow this?”
“Will I throw-up again? “
Europe is known for having amazing food, but I was so afraid of throwing up that I had to stick to what was familiar. This made me feel like I was letting Ian down by forcing him to eat at restaurants that served North American food. I also felt like I was letting myself down by not immersing myself in the culture.
I know in my head that this is a side effect stemming from my recent whole brain radiation. Still I struggle accepting that I am ill. In my heart I can’t cope with the idea that I am no longer an average girl, living an average life. I just can’t believe that its in the realm of possibilities that I could die in a year.
I am someone who clings tightly to independence and personal freedom. The more I hold on, the more my cancer starts to sway my emotions back and forth. One minute I’m facing my reality and the next I’m clinging to who I want to be. Its seems that when I least expect, challenges get thrown my way. My experience with travel and food is one of those unexpected complications. The food that is meant to be enjoyable becomes a land mine, unpredictably going off at any time.