Originally published in Feb 2020 on www.licencedtoretire.com my other blog.
I had it all worked out just before Christmas with my mum having passed away in November, our regular return visits home to get her to various hospital appointments would no longer be required. We would be free to get back to the south island and do some serious km’s on some of the cycle trails. We just had to get my haematologist appointment out of the way, and freedom would be ours.
But as I wrote about in my last blog we struck a small lump in the road, actually, it was a rather large lump in my neck, forcing a significant change in plans. With the haematologist confirming that my Lymphoma has returned and spread. I write this at the time when I still have one staging biopsy left to be done, a bone marrow biopsy. Then a return to the haematologist on the 18th of this month to discuss the result and confirm the treatment plan.
With the most likely scenario being 4 months of chemo treatment followed by a stem cell transplant then 3 to 6 months of recovery time. Taking me out of action for most if not all of the year. My eldest son suggested that it would be good to once again have a family holiday before things kicked off. It’s not like the early days when the boys where still at school and we could take off almost whenever we wanted. These days they are all in their late 20’s with jobs, relationships and lives of their own. In the end, we managed to wangle it that they would all take 3 days off and we would do 3 nights away.
Of course, Murphy was up there laughing at us and our grand plans. Not long had we decided on the days when I had to cut it short by one day to fit in the bone marrow biopsy. Still, we were going to have a couple of days together, a boy’s bonding time. Sarah was going to stay home to feed their pets and allow the boys quality time with dad.
Since we were only going away for a couple of nights, there was no need to travel too far, in fact, it was back to one of our new favourite places, Shakespear Regional Park. We all met there at 10.30 spending a bit of time tossing the frisbee Thor had brought with him. We knew we couldn’t access the campground before 11am, but we’re determined to make the most of the day.
Come 11am and time to enter the campground and get the camp set up. It’s been quite a few years since my boys have slept in a tent, but they managed to find a sweet shady spot and get them erected quickly. Like riding a bike I guess, once learnt never forgotten.
With the tents set up, and half a litre of sunscreen applied, it was time to hit the water. It didn’t matter that the tide had retreated so far out the boys just wanted to get wet. My middle son James recon’s its 5 years since he swam in the sea. The other two couldn’t remember, but it’s probably been that long for the two of them as well. With all the recent sunshine the water was very warm and I started to wonder if they would ever get back out again.
We probably got the timing all wrong, but after the swim, we set off on one of the many trails around the park. As you can see, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the temperature was soaring. We had, however, ensured everyone was well hydrated as well as the boys having smothered themselves in sunscreen again before departure. Thankfully they walked at a slow enough pace that I was able to keep up with them, especially on the uphill sections.
During the down times when they weren’t swimming or walking, it was out with one of the games. The boys are avid board game players, bringing with them several games. The four of us played a few rounds of various games over the time away, including Power Grid (above). We didn’t turn on the TV once, and I think they even managed to forget about their mobile phones for a while. Although that was probably helped by the fact phone signal wasn’t wonderful in the spot we camped.
Lesson learnt from the previous day when the boys decided to go for a walk before it became too hot. After another liberal helping of sunscreen, they set off. Calling me an hour or so later from the top of the hill above the campground. They insisted I took a photo even though you cannot really see them in it, so here you are guys! Behind the gate at the top of the hill are a couple of dots, those are your heads.
While we were away, Sarah sent me this old photo and asked if we could try and replicate it. The boys had a bit of fun trying. I cannot say that we nailed it, mostly I think it’s the fault of the guy taking the photo not getting the artistic direction correct. At least it’s a shot to remember and we all had a good laugh.
Wanting another lasting memory of the trip I asked someone to take a photo of the 4 of us. Sadly it wasn’t till later that I saw I was obscured by shadow. That’s OK though the three most important people are clear in the photo. From the left Thor, Richard, Me and James.
On the Last night with the sun going down and stars starting to appear, the boys went star hunting. Richard and Thor have an app on their phones that pinpoints the location of any star and identifies it. It also shows when satellites will be crossing the sky. I don’t know what time they returned to their tents, but I was long since asleep.
Waking up to the final morning, it was time for a stroll along the length of the beach before packing down the tents and heading home. What a great way to spend a few days and a massive thank you to my boys for taking time off work to spend it with their old man. Also a pat on the back to Thor for coming up with the idea. As well as Sarah for staying home and looking after the pets.
If you didn’t catch it in my previous blog, my posts this year would be limited and irregular due to ongoing treatment for my Lymphoma. I hope to be able to get away between chemo treatments even if those will only be short trips close to Auckland. More about this to come once a treatment plan is finalised with my haematologist later this month.