A Bump in the Road: You Have Cancer!

Travelled by Peter Smith on 29 May 2012 | 2 Comments

Travelled By

Peter Smith Peter Smith

Born in England, travel was in my blood from the beginning.My family was on the road working in agricultural shows and from the start I was travelling all over England and Wales even when in a pushchair! Although I am sure I was kicking and screaming at least some of the time. ...Find out more!

A Bump in the Road: You Have Cancer!

photo credit: Rameez Sadikot

Needless to say I am stunned. As a traveller we can prepare for bandits, corrupt governments and red tape, tropical diseases and minor to major accidents. If it hasn’t killed you then are still on the road.

An overwhelming desire to ignore aches and pains and accept them as a traveller’s burden may have contributed to my late diagnosis, I will never know.
My most recent trip was an adventure through Nepal, India and Thailand for the final month. All was going swimmingly with plenty of stories and heaps of great photos as I took some much needed r and r in Phuket, Thailand.

Over the latter few weeks of the trip I had lost a bit of weight and put it down to a change in diet and abstinence from alcohol however after my return flight to Germany I could tell that I was having a few issues with fatigue and weakness. The Internet can be a great resource for travellers to query symptoms and get all paranoid about crazy tropical diseases and to that end I was trawling and looking for possible clues to any problem.

Returning to the UK I started to feel better and put the incident behind me chalking it up to road sickness, however by the end of January the symptoms had returned and my doctor sent me for a CT scan. The results were devastating to say the least, showing tumours and a progressive, as yet unknown, disease.

It took a while to get a proper diagnosis and during that period my health deteriorated rapidly, with massive weight loss and anaemia. Finally diagnosed with GIST a pretty rare sarcoma I was rapidly put on targeted chemotherapy that, to date, has been effective in halting the cancer. It is not a permanent fix but I am hopeful that new research will bring even more effective drugs to bear down on this particular cancer.

More recently my weight has stabilised and I am starting to feel more like my old self, with a burning desire to get back to travelling; four months of bed rest and treatments was driving me insane!

Once again I took to the Internet, this time for flights!

Although being a great believer in last minute bargains and the random dice throw of potential destinations I had to be a little careful in my choice. Hiking in Peru was out, as was tubing in Laos! I struck lucky with a flight to Cancun for £200 round trip with Thomson, a UK charter operator, my destination an old favourite; Isla Mujeres, an island just off the Cancun coast.

Many Central American travellers, at one time or another, will find themselves on this small island and drift pleasantly into the arms of the Poc Na hostel with its lazy hammocks dotted around the sandy beach. Night time optional partying at the beach bar brings many backpackers of all ages together in a confluence of travel stories and audacious bragging. I love it!

Having a great bolt hole such as this particular place is to me a necessity, we all should have a special place to relax and recuperate from the arrows that life slings at us. I am sure you have your own special place that affords solitude or the comfort of old and new friends.

I have already penned a few Travel Generation articles on the island so I won’t repeat myself here save to say that I am back in the saddle, bruised and battered, an uncertain future but undeterred and (almost) ready for my next adventure.

See you on the road!

Peter J Smith, UK May 2012

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