June 05, 2023

Cancer Vacations


Many survivors my book marked the end of treatment with a trip. Some expensive, most on a shoe-string. Some foreign, others just a refreshing get away to see family or friends. If your thinking of adventure travel, Defy Adventures, a new adventure travel organization for young adult cancer patients. I recently interviewed Micheal Lepage, the founder.

Did you travel prior to having cancer?
No. Beating cancer spurred me to see the world. I have since backpacked Europe, trekked dormant volcanoes in New Zealand, camped in the Grand Canyon, and climbed to the top of the Cristo in Rio, where I asked my wife to marry me.

What were you hardest and most hopeful memories of treatment?
I’d just finished my 12 chemo treatments. Excited to return to school, finish my last semester and graduate, I dragged my parents, siblings, and girlfriend to my appointment. The news was the exact opposite of what I expected; I hadn’t responded well and I needed another four treatments. I felt crushed, embarrassed, and annihilated.  My most hopeful memory was a moment of clarity while sitting quietly in nature. I had one more treatment to go and felt sure that my cancer was gone and it was over. My next scan was blank and I was right.

What advice do you have for survivors after treatment?
Take it ridiculously slow. Here’s my formula; Take the total months of cancer treatments, divide it in half, and add 3 months. Plan for that much time to get back on your feet. If you get there sooner, great! But don’t push for it.

Talk about your new organization Defy Adventures.
We help young adult survivors reclaim their lives after cancer. We whisk them off to a remote part of the world to climb a serious mountain in Peru or survive in the jungle. Our expeditions create community, build self-confidence, inspire, and are a total blast.

So, have you taken any memorable trips after your cancer care? Were did you go? Did you get the O.K. from your doc before you traveled? Any tips for survivors wanting an inexpensive vacation? After treatment my friend Lisa Friedman and I went on a shoe-string trip to Costa Rica where we stayed in little beach villages with almost no tourists.

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  1. Morgan S Says:
    June 5th, 2009 at 5:11 PM

    I’ve never really travelled ever except for one real trip after treatment. I did that Camp-Mak-A-Dream and feel like I have to say “I Had A GREAT Time!” but in all honesty, it wasn’t my thing. I would like to travel but all my extra time and money go to school. I can go afterwards.

  2. JBBC Says:
    June 6th, 2009 at 2:28 AM

    Palm Beach Florida! I was diagnosed and had my treatment during the cold dark dreary days of a European winter and I promised myself a trip to sunny Florida when all my treatment ended. I kept a photograph of a previous trip as my screen-saver and during guided meditation classes at my cancer support center, I would regularly take a journey there in my imagination. It really was a wonderful day when the plane touched down at PBI, all treatment ended and the sunshine waiting for me.

  3. Kairol Rosenthal Says:
    June 6th, 2009 at 6:34 AM

    Visual reminders of vacation are key. Like you JBBC, the image on my desktop is a picture of an old rusting iron bridge, down a dirt road, overgrown with lush, jungle-like greenery. It’s not the back roads of a tropical paradise in the Caribbean. It is from a little drive I took by myself when I was visiting my mom and dad in Western Pennsylvania. I drove to the spot in the woods where we used to go in the winters, when I was a kid, to see maple being tapped from the trees and boiled into a divine nectar of the Gods. Vacations are a break from the norm, a change of scenery, and that can mean an hour drive or hopping off the subway in a part of town that you never visit. I never let time or money get in the way of exploring new lands - even if they are only 5 miles from my house.

  4. Michelle Says:
    June 6th, 2009 at 8:31 AM

    My brother planned and purchased a trip to visit him in England once I was done with chemo. We called it my Remission World Tour. It became a goal to me, and something that signified that I had beaten cancer. It’s like my tattoo - it’s something I have always wanted to do, but it’s taken chemo and cancer to get me to the point where I’ll do it. I think cancer has a way of giving you the push you need to do things you always thought about but never did - you always think, I’ll do it tomorrow. Well, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, so do it today. I think this is an amazing org that she has started, and I will def be looking into it, once all the bills and debt are gone. :-)

  5. Alli Says:
    June 12th, 2009 at 6:46 AM

    Last year I was given an all expense paid trip to anywhere in the world to any location Continental airlines flew to byan anonymous donor. I chose an all inclusive resort in Aruba. It was incredible. It gave me something to look forward to during the last month of chemo and something to plan. The trip was incredible but most important were the memories. These memories helped me deal with the tough days of reocurrance and more rounds of chemo.

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