Last year when I sat down in late December to write my recap story, I sincerely hoped that the pandemic restrictions and concerns would diminish over time. I was sorting out the best approaches to addressing Ira’s glioblastoma diagnosis and how we could adhere to COVID mandates without diminishing our quality of life. Toward the middle of the year, I launched a For Glio website page and started sharing some of my research.
Here is a relevant quote I found along the way.
Sometimes you have to let go of the picture of what you thought life would be like and learn to find joy in the story you are actually living. Rachel Marie Martin
Instead of dwelling on the uncertainties associated with a terminal diagnosis, we continue to live our lives and not let the cancer control us. Family gatherings are possible when all members are healthy and available. Continuing to plan future events reinforces Ira’s positivity and enhances our gratitude for the memorable moments we share together. Ira remarkably was able to remain strong throughout the first half of the year while his body endured the remaining chemotherapy treatments.
On New Year’s Day, we continued our family tradition of beginning the year with a morning of skiing. In January, February, and March we skied more than 20 times at Keystone and Vail Resorts. Sometimes we skied as a couple. Other times, we shared the slopes with our sons and a couple of their children. We thoroughly enjoyed watching two grandsons enjoy a sport that we had shared with our sons decades ago. Neither the intense cold nor the mountain elevation affected Ira’s weakened body.
MEDIA TRIPS TO DUDE RANCH & GRAND HYATT VAIL
We embarked on our first 2021 media trip in February when we were guests at the Vista Verde Guest Ranch near Steamboat. It was the first time since the glioblastoma diagnosis that Ira drove for more than an hour and a half. Thankfully, Ira had no problems with this task. At the ranch, we divided our time between horseback riding in the snow, snowshoeing with a private guide, and taking an archery lesson.
A media trip sponsored by the Grand Hyatt Vail opened the door to my first Vail Mountain ski experience. Our youngest son, Jordan, joined us for a day of skiing and introduced us to the deep powder at the Back Bowls. This ski-in/ski-out resort closed our ski season on a high note. When Ira was diagnosed the preceding summer, I had no idea whether we would ever ski again.
OUT OF STATE TRAVEL BY PLANE
We were able to take advantage of my NATJA gold medal prize for travel writing when we flew to Florida and stayed at the South Seas Plantation on Captiva Island. Our relaxing time at the beach coupled with our land and sea explorations was a wonderful spring treat. We took advantage of daily seafood options and swimming in the ocean.
In May, we returned to Chicago to celebrate my in-laws’ 92 and 94 year old birthdays. Our weeklong family trip revealed the challenges faced by individuals trying to maintain a nutrient-dense diet while traveling. Much to our surprise the hotel’s dining room was closed due to the local pandemic restrictions. My online research helped to identify nearby restaurants with a healthier agenda.
Our 46th wedding anniversary was celebrated on the island of Kauai. While we were never avid beachgoers, our time at the beach is now minimized. The Optune device overheats easily in warmer climates and as a result nasty sores may develop. Instead of lounging around, we explored the island by hiking on popular trails and snorkeling off the coast of Niihua.
By August, our desire to travel again was satisfied by a media getaway to Civana Wellness Resort & Spa. We took full advantage of the creative plant-based menu and the impressive list of daily activities. Our days often started with an early morning hike followed by exercise, yoga, and meditation classes. Trying new things is always on our agenda. In Arizona, aerial yoga was added to the list. We returned home both energized and refreshed.
TIME OUT FOR OUTPATIENT HERNIA SURGERY
In the early fall, Ira successfully addressed a surgical procedure that was placed on hold. About a year earlier, he realized that a previous hernia repair operation had failed. Several months after completing the second round of chemotherapy, his neuro-oncologist gave the green light to address the bulge protruding from his lower abdomen. The recovery time was swift. Ira was back to normal activities within two months of the out-patient procedure.
FIRST PANDEMIC CRUISE
As the pandemic ebbed and flowed, I reached out to media outlets with the hope of securing an end of the year trip. When my efforts did not produce my anticipated results, we searched for an out of pocket December destination. An end of the year promotion inspired us to make a reservation for a Caribbean cruise. We embarked on a relaxing weeklong cruise to San Juan, St. Kitts, and St. Thomas without any issues. Celebrity Cruises’ COVID protocols kept us safe.
After readjusting to Denver’s higher elevation, we ended the year with a getaway to our favorite ski destination, Summit County. A Christmas Eve snowfall showered the area with much needed powder. Ira’s vitality continues to shine as he glides down the mountainous terrain without any hesitation.
END OF YEAR MESSAGE
As 2021 comes to a close, the pandemic continues to linger. Without a definitive endpoint, Ira and I remain committed to enjoying time with our growing family and to continue exploring the world. We will continue to weigh our health and safety risks as we plan our future adventures. Unless government restrictions or our personal concerns prevent us from embarking on our booked 2022 journeys, we will ski in the Colorado Rockies and explore the world.
We remain cautiously optimistic that Ira’s positivity along with his consistent use of the Optune device and our lifestyle choices will maintain the status quo. As long as Ira’s situation remains unchanged, we will take advantage of our opportunities to spend quality time with our grandchildren and to learn more about the world.
While we realize that individuals facing a dire prognosis must forge their own path, we sincerely hope that our glioblastoma journey will inspire others to embrace life and not cancer. Even if side effects from the surgery or the treatments prevent a normal quality of life, at the very least find time to step outside to appreciate Mother Nature.
As I get ready to flip the calendar to the next year, I remain grateful for both the mundane and extraordinary experiences we experienced throughout 2021 and look forward to 2022.
May 2022 Be the Best Year of Your Life.
Sandra Bornstein is the author of May This Be the Best Year of Your Life. Sandra’s memoir highlights her living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. She was a licensed Colorado teacher who taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad. Sandra also taught college-level courses at Front Range Community College and the University of Colorado-Boulder.
In addition to reviewing books and interviewing authors, Sandra is an award-winning author and lifestyle and travel journalist. Many of Sandra’s travel stories appear on the For Readers Page. To follow Sandra and Ira’s travel adventures, visit TheTravelingBornsteins website.