This started out as a travel blog. Not the kind where I tell you what I ate and where I slept. This blog had a different purpose: to seek out the quirky, the odd, the unusual. More than anything, it sought to show that no matter where you go in North America, you can find interesting things to see and do, and fascinating people to meet. Even in Podunk, North Dakota.
Since last summer, however, this journal – and I – have been hijacked by a cancer diagnosis, and since that time it has mostly covered a different sort of journey – my cancer journey. It is now time to return this journal to its original purpose.
Today is a landmark day. After two tongue cancers, two cancer surgeries, plastic surgery to replace the part of my tongue that was removed, and 5 1/2 weeks of radiation, my last radiation treatment was today. Let the healing begin.
When you finish radiation, they have you ring a big bell on your way out, signifying that you have now “graduated:”
In my left hand is the Mask of Terror that secured my head to the table on which my body was offered in sacrifice to the Death-Ray Gods.
My medical team has emphasized that healing will be imperceptible for the next two weeks, and slow and non-linear thereafter. But the cancer is gone, and in some number of months, I will be able to say goodbye to the Ensures and milk shakes on which I have been subsisting, and once again enjoy seafood from the Pacific Northwest, Mexican food from the Southwest, Cajun cooking and BBQ from the South, butter tarts and poutine from Canada, and yes, maybe even walleye and meat loaf from the mid-west. It is not clear whether I will ever again be able to fully appreciate a fine Willamette Valley pinot noir or a lusty California cabernet, but my fingers are crossed.
In the meantime, I have pulled out the maps and travel guides again. It’s time to start planning the next road trip. I’m thinking maybe the Blues Highway from Nashville to New Orleans this Fall. Yeah, that sounds about right.