We had our long awaited trip to South Carolina this past week. It marked the end of cancer for Ania. We had told her all though her treatments that we would go to South Carolina and go camping when she was "all better." This was a trip we all waited eagerly for during this past year. Yes she will still have check ups and exams but the worst part is finally over. She is on her way down Recovery Road.
Our car was packed up with all sorts of camping goodies and we began the 14 hour drive. Both Ania and her brother did very well! Minimum stops, minimum complaining (hard task for a nearly 2 year old & 4 year old!).
Run around at a rest stop
from this tumultuous year. Each day she would tell us it was time for a nap and then snuggle herself up in GiGi's bedroom and sleep for 2-3 hours at a time in the middle of the day. She has not napped like that in over a year. Her little body just knew what she needed.
On Tuesday we were able to go visit a family friends farm. Goats, chickens, pigs, donkeys & sheep- oh my!
Wednesday was also a great day as we took a family hike to Isaqueena Falls. This place holds special meaning as Mike and I traveled there almost 15 years ago and were actually engaged there 9 years ago. Someday I can't wait to tell the kids the story of how it happened but I am happy to share the place with them in the meantime ;)
At one point on our hike, Ania looked up at me with the biggest smile and said " Mommy, I'm all better now!" Hearing her realization just made me so happy for her! She is thriving and enjoying life to the fullest again!
We were able to walk into a cave - a long tunnel actually - Stumphouse tunnel. It was pitch black & damp but Ania had no fear as we walked into it. She kept saying she was brave as she held my hand and looked for bats and bear footprints through the deep tunnel. It was very echoey and I told Ania to yell "I beat cancer!" Which she did and it was a beautiful moment as it echoed through the very dark place!
The pinnacle of of the trip was the camping adventure that Ania has been asking to go on all through treatment. We stayed 2 nights at Paris Mountain. She was able to be reunited her long time friend Lily who moved away to Atlanta earlier this year. She was also able to meet a little boy named Evan who beat retinoblastoma! His parents were a great support for me in the early days of diagnosis so it was wonderful to meet them in person- and over a campfire and s'mores- can't beat that!!
Ania is MADE for camping :) she did very well and slept like a rock in her tent! We will try to get in another local camping trip this fall before the weather gets too cold.
We finished our trip with a beautiful drive through the Great Smokey Mountains. The air was fresh and crisp. The sign of a new era for our family. We are all on a road to recovery. The after effects of cancer are sometimes painful and raw but we are ready to refocus on health and well-being. There will be reminders of our cancer journey all through our lives I'm sure but we are through the worst of the mountain climb and have come to a beautiful jumping off point!