Cheat-RiverTraveling was something that I was always meant to do. It was in my blood growing up in a family that traveled back and forth each year between the United States and Italy. It was just what we did.

Not being physically able to travel was never something I thought I might have to contend with. It never crossed my mind that the germs on a plane would be too much of a health risk or that my stamina might not be up to exploring a new city. But in 1997 it happened. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease and suddenly, everything that I had known to be true turned was turned on its side.

Except for traveling. Traveling was still something that I found solace in. It still ran through my veins and I was not ready to give it up despite the reduced energy.

Monongahela-forestDuring a hot and humid Washington DC area summer, in between chemotherapy treatments, I headed to the Cheat River in West Virginia. Knowing that I would not be able to hike like I had hoped when we booked our trip (long before my diagnosis and start of treatment), alternatives were planned. Not going on vacation would have meant giving in to cancer. Taking the trip, with modified plans, meant taking control of my life.

It was a no brainer. Being sidelined by chemotherapy was not an option. I needed a change of scenery. I needed to explore and live my life. I needed to take an already planned trip to the Cheat River in West Virginia. 

Instead of spending an entire day hiking, we drove through the vast Monongahela Forest and found trails that were on the easier side.

Instead of being outside in the sun all day, we went out in the morning, took a mid day break in our cabin with a good book, and spent the afternoon on the river that ran behind our cabin. Our cabin at The Cheat River Lodge was perfect because we were able to bring our own groceries (instead of hoping that I would have the energy to go out for dinner), gave us the privacy we needed to relax, and provided enough modern comforts for this city girl.

Traveling during chemotherapy treatments is something that you have be careful with. But with my doctor’s permission, I was able to spend a long weekend on a relaxing river, exploring, and taking control of my life. Exploring, relaxing, making the most of the energy that I had.  Taking time for you, even during something like chemotherapy, in a low key environment where you can explore and rest, can make everything better.

Elena shares her stories about living life, one moment at a time at Ciao Mom.