Having completed chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the question of when we might take a holiday was coming up regularly. Much as I love a holiday, the thought of packing and making sure I was covered for all sorts of side effects that are still lurking, put me off a little bit. In fairness to my hubby though I tried to summon up the enthusiasm as he definitely needed a break. As it happens, our daughter was working in Disney World Florida for the summer and we decided it would be lovely to go out and see her while she was there.
We talked it through with the radiographer and he was very positive about the idea of us going to Florida as long as I took some sensible precautions. These included taking regular walks around the aeroplane, wearing flight stockings, refraining from drinking alcohol during the flight, wearing factor 50 when out in the sun and showering chlorine off my radiation affected skin. Still I was apprehensive about the long journey and having to walk a lot so I chatted to my friends on the forum. They replied with a resounding, “You must go! What are you waiting for?” One of my friends even advised me about a lanyard you can get at the airport which informs the staff that you have a hidden disability and enables you to get special assistance if necessary.
Within a very short time we found flights and a peaceful hotel outside of Disney. Our daughter was really excited at the prospect of us flying out to see her as she hadn’t expected this at all. Everything bar the journey to the airport was booked on the Friday, ready for us to set off on the Monday. This left very little time to pack but somehow we managed it. By Sunday we organised to stay at a hotel at the airport as we had an early flight the following morning. Our journey to Manchester left me feeling I may have bitten of more than I could chew as I struggled with simple things like pulling my own suitcase along and walking the length of the platform. However, by the following morning I had some newfound energy and we checked our luggage in to the comment of, “You’re travelling light!” Given the short turnaround from booking to travelling, this was hardly surprising. I did suddenly panic at the thought of items left behind though!
The lanyard worked fantastically well. We got priority boarding, meaning I never had to stand around for very long and on the plane we got moved to the extra legroom seats. In addition, we got our entertainment package upgraded to premium and we were given extra drinks and biscuits. The crew couldn’t have done more to help. Upon arrival at Orlando we got moved to the front of the queue at passport control. It appears they also provide assistance for people with lanyards there which was a pleasant surprise.
By early evening we checked into the Hilton Parc Soleil hotel and were greeted with a lovely giftbag in our room, containing a coffee mug, chocolates, pretzels and celebratory balloons. My husband had arranged the surprise without me knowing and Stephanie from the Parc Soleil had organised for the goodies to be placed in our room. We waited for our daughter to finish work and then arranged to pick her up from her accommodation. It was wonderful to see her and we chatted until late at night before driving her back to her temporary home.
The following day we spoke to Felix from the reception team about moving from our room to one of the suites so that we had more space to relax during the frequent Florida thunderstorms. He was doubtful at first as the hotel was fairly booked up and busy. By lunchtime however we were able to move and we were delighted to have a balcony, full kitchen and dining table, as well as a living area. This also meant our daughter could sleep over which she did on a few occasions.
The next few days were spent sitting by the pool (in the shade!), swimming and visiting Disney parks. Our daughter and her friends managed to get us free entry no less than 3 times so we had fun going on the rides and even went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party which was great. In the parks we set up Disability Access Service which saved me from having to queue up for rides. All these little things helped so much as I would have been exhausted quickly without this service.
At the weekend we travelled to Jacksonville to spend the day with my husband’s brother and family. It was lovely to see them and have a good catch up. Before long our holiday was coming to an end and I realised that cancer had not been at the forefront of my mind for the first time in months. Admittedly, there was always a reminder when I was feeling below par or having to be extra careful in the sun and swimming pool but at least there was plenty of distraction.
Our daughter was due to finish her placement at the end of our holiday so we flew home together which was lovely. Back home, jet lag set in and I had a mountain of washing to do but it was all worth it. The break did us the world of good and helped my recovery enormously.