Isla Mujeres MX, 2022, Part I
I’ve been on a couple of trips the past year or so, out to see my brother and my wonderful east coast family. Domestic flight California to Florida. Both times were sweet and in so many ways.
I canceled an international trip I’d planned for spring 2020, before even our former president knew there was a pandemic on the rise. Oh, wait, did he ever figure it out? I can’t remember.
Mollie and family and I planned a trip to Cancun this past January and that, too, was postponed due to covid. We’re hoping to get that one in gear in January 2023.
In the meantime, I started thinking on my getting up and going on my annual spring breaks, my mostly solo travel and I was looking at the UK and such. So many friends to revisit, new friends to meet, welcoming places to see again and new places on my horizon. But when it came down to it, it’s much too cold for me right now in the UK. Spring break took a sharp dip into Mexico.
So here I sit in Isla Mujeres, at least my third time here, maybe the 4th, can’t really remember. It doesn’t matter. The first few days I was here, masks were still required indoors and on public transit; that seems to have worn away, except in the pharmacias.
Right now it’s 84*, nice and humid and I’m hanging out to day in my fine AirBnb apartment in central Isla. Lots of noise and activity begins the day around 8 am, ends usually around 10-11 pm. The quietest part of day is 4 am. Lovely and cool that time of night as well. The AirBnB folks will come by to refill my giant water dispenser sometime today. Que Barbara 2 on Calle Matamoros 12. Great place if you ever come for a visit. Half off regular price with my longtime stay. Five weeks. Can’t beat that. I could actually live here. But don’t tell anyone.
I have air conditioning and WIFI in the place, and call me crazy, most of the time the a/c is off. I like the heat. The humidity. Today I chose to stay in, take a break from my exploring and see if I could get myself to write. Peggy Hunter, this is for you.
I haven’t done much writing lately. In my journal here and there. In this humidity, my fingers tend to stick a bit to the keys on the keyboard and or the phone screen. Tough life.
The delicious aroma of meat grilling all day long, from the burger joint next door, as well from Olivia’s Mediterranean Restaurant (awesome food!) across the street is in some way, soothing. I’m not really a big meat eater. In Isla, tacos, fish, and everything in between is always the best, including the pina coladas.. The giant glass of cold brew and french toast at Chaya & Cacao was the best I’ve ever had. Grilled fish with beers I had on the beach was yummy. And my longtime favorite, La Cazuela, where breakfast is a special treat.
I left my home in Napa on Wednesday, April 28. I had a dentist appointment in the City, had lunch with my son Russell and dinner that evening with good friends Tony, Bill and Jay, all from Enchanted Hills Blind Camp.
This morning, I’m grateful to be having this time for myself. I think it took me a week being her to realize how much I needed it and to unwind from my daily life.
Most of you don’t know that a little less than a year ago I was diagnosed with metastatic squamous cell cancer of my left axillary lymph nodes. NOT breast cancer. The good news, treatment is going well, and I think I’m out of the woods. I’ll know more for certain soon. Ladies, don’t miss your mammogram appointments.
The swelling was picked up in my regularly scheduled mammogram. Sort of. My first mammogram in January showed swollen lymph nodes and there was some thinking it was related to my recent covid injection. That my antibodies were running around and the lymph nodes were affected as well. I have a long history of skin cancer, but this is the first time it’s ever appeared INSIDE me, not on my skin. My body now seems to be an equal opportunity cancer employer.
We waited, not worried at all, for a couple months. Another scan in March, the final diagnosis came in June.
It was one of those discussions. Take this treatment or you’ll more than like die within the year. After a time of angst, fear and reflection, of course I chose the treatment, which has been very simple. Years ago, after hearing an oncologist at a conference tell the audience that he’d never recommend his family take the chemo and radiation he was giving his patients every day, that’s when I told myself, I wouldn’t do chemo or radiation either. I knew I’d be having a good long talk with myself.
Again, something to be grateful for today. Every six weeks, I present my arm to the Kaiser lab techs to take a few vials of my fine red blood and a couple days later, I drive to Vallejo for an I.V. infusion of those well known monoclonal antibodies. The particular one used to “cure” me is Keytruda, and the list of potential side effects isn’t fun to read. I’ve had none of them. I have an excellent oncology team, excellent insurance, and now, an excellent point of view on life. I also added a slew of nutritional supplements and herbs to my daily diet. I’ve lost weight on purpose, with eating much less meat, fatty and sugary foods and increased my daily exercise. I’ve learned to eat for life, rather than living to eat. And I feel great on any given day.
July 2022 will be twelve months since I started this treatment. After coming home in June, I’ll meet with my oncologist and have some scans to see where we are and what the next step will be. I’m hoping there are no more steps and that I’m done with this part of life.
Sometime in the past few months, I realized that there is an end of life in sight, for all of us. Really. As much as we hate to admit it. Hours of meditation taken in small doses, the love of family and friends, time spent outdoors, a couple of apps (I recommend CALM and I AM) that tell me on a regular basis little tidbits such as this one that just popped up on my phone: ‘I am grateful that I can turn my daydreams into reality’, has given purchase to my incredible happy outlook. I’ve come to terms with death, and am not afraid of it. I don’t look forward to it by any means. I don’t want to not be here. What I look forward to is each and every day with love in my heart. I can’t help it.
There you have it. My unveiling and intro to this fine trip I’m on.