When I signed up for Little Pink Houses of Hope I didn’t really have high HOPES that I would get accepted. They had said that there were more than 1,000 applicants for the Key West trip I was selected for, and I was somehow selected. Yay! Unfortunately the trip was just a week after our long planned trip to Lake Powell, so Mike taking that much work off wasn’t a great idea. I told the team that Mike was unable to come and asked if there was any chance my mom could go in his place (as she is my other caregiver), they decided that this would be ok, so I got to take my mom on the trip!
I didn’t have a lot of details about what to expect before the trip, so I was a bit nervous. My type A personality likes to know what is going on. With Little Pink Houses of Hope you take care of your transportation to the destination and they take care of your accommodations. The vacation houses are donated, which is amazing.
My mom and I got up bright and early (4:00 AM) to get ready and get to the airport for our 7:00 AM flight. This was the 3rd day that week that my mom and I had to get up super early, you would think we would be pros by now. My mom and I had to get up bright and early for my PET-CT and for my heart scan. We aren’t early morning people, by this point it was torture, but it was for vacation! I actually managed to sleep on the plane I was so exhausted (I never sleep on planes).
We got to Florida around 5:00 PM, we ran to the meeting area and got our keys to our super fantastic vacation house. We freshened up as best we could in the 10 minutes we had before we walked back to the church that was the main meeting location. We had a nice dinner and an intro to what the week had in store. The team had put together activities during the day and the evening every day for the whole week. My mom and I not being morning people, opted out of a lot of the daytime activities – but we joined the group at night.
We had a sunset cruise early on in the week and that was the day I discovered that I get the not so nice side effect of nausea from Kadcyla. I hadn’t expected it because most of my chemo treatments haven’t made me horrendously nauseous. In the middle of the day I started to throw up. I took the anti-nausea meds I had brought. I hadn’t packed my extra medications that I can stack to make them work better (as I had not at all expected to get nausea). I was feeling a bit better by the time we had the cruise, so I figured I would be ok. Of course not long after leaving the shore I had to rush to the back of the boat and throw up (I was so embarrassed). I couldn’t get the nausea under control at that point, so the employees of the boat kept filling surgical gloves from their first aid kit with ice cubes to keep me cool and help me feel better, which my mom and the pink houses volunteers kept bringing me. I threw up one more lovely time, I took some photos of the sunset, laughed at the conga line and tried to relax as best I could. Many of the women who were on the trip (intentionally or not) were stage IV and several had had Kadcyla, they told me that they battled with nausea the first 4-5 rounds and it usually went away (this helped to know I could look forward to not losing my lunch every time I got an infusion).
The rest of the week I bounced back and forth on trying to keep my nausea under control, but didn’t let it ruin our fun as much as I could. Most nights my mom and I were in bed bright and early (we are apparently less exciting than I thought, but we were using a lot of energy during the day). We had one night where we stayed up super late chatting having lost track of time (d’oh!). We sat on our front patio and watched a thunder storm (so pretty).
Key West is a beautiful and fun town with lots to see. We had been given museum passes, passes to see the butterflies. There were lots of cute fun little shops (I love to shop until I drop when I travel). I also really wanted to go snorkeling while we were there, the group was able to hook us up with 50% off of a snorkeling trip that also took us to see dolphins! My mom discovered that she was able to snorkel (she was worried she would get claustrophobic). Where we went unfortunately had low visibility that day, so it was tough to see much, but there was some fish and sponges I was able to make out. I was spoiled by snorkeling in St. Thomas and St. John this year, so it wasn’t really comparable, but I was excited to get out and snorkel.
My mom and I walked and walked everywhere. We both ended up patching up blisters each morning before heading out. Ouch!
It was a wonderful week. I have been doing my “sleep for 4 days to recover from being super active for a week.” After some rest to recover from my vacation (funny how vacation is exhausting these days, but I love traveling). I am starting to get my energy back at a new level and am starting to actually feel like I am not on chemo-chemo anymore.