A year ago, when I wrote about Glioblastoma Awareness Day (#GBMDay), Ira and I were extremely grateful that we were reaching the one-year anniversary of Ira’s glioblastoma diagnosis without any recurrence of his right temporal lobe tumor. As we approach the two-year anniversary, we are thrilled that Ira’s quality of life has remained intact and that we have been able to spend time with our family members in Colorado and Illinois and enjoy the things that we love to do. By sharing our family and travel experiences, we hope to encourage other people facing a terminal illness to embrace life rather than cancer. Simultaneously, we hope to bring more awareness to the brain cancer community and the benefits of wearing Novocure’s Optune device.
Welcoming our 6th Grandchild
Last July, we welcomed a new addition to our family. Isabella, our second granddaughter and sixth grandchild brought tears of joy to our eyes. The desire to watch her grow and mature is one of many things that keeps Ira forward-looking.
Arizona’s Civana Wellness Resort & Spa
Our positive mindset has inspired us to engage in a variety of adventures in diverse locations. Last August, we had a partially funded media trip to Arizona’s Civana Wellness Resort & Spa. Working around the intense heat of the Sonoran Desert, we took early morning hikes, and participated in diverse exercise classes each day. We had the special opportunity to try aerial yoga and experience a musical meditation class. While Ira spent private time in the gym, I hopped into the pool for an invigorating aquatics class. For a brief overview of this wellness resort, check out Reboot at Arizona’s Civana Wellness Resort & Spa.
The onsite restaurants provided healthy menu options filled with nutrient-dense foods. It’s a bonus whenever we can select healthy options from a restaurant menu. For more information about their restaurant, read Healthy and Delicious Food at Arizona’s Civana Wellness Resort & Spa.
Celebrating Jewish Festival of Sukkot
In 2021, the Jewish Festival of Sukkot coincided with my 65th birthday. Ira and I loved the opportunity to enrich our grandchildren’s lives with the celebration of this tradition in our Front Range backyard.
Pumpkin Patch with Grandchildren
In the fall, we hiked in the metro-Denver area as well as the High Country. We also found time to get together with our four sons and their families. One of these special occasions was a family visit to a local pumpkin patch.
University of Colorado Football Season
With autumn came another University of Colorado Football season. For decades, we have stood shoulder to shoulder with the Colorado Buffaloes. Ira was determined to attend every game.
Celebrity Cruise to the Caribbean
We celebrated the end of 2021, by taking our first pandemic cruise to the Caribbean. Aboard Celebrity’s Apex ship, we visited San Juan, St. Kitts, and St. Thomas. To minimize our contact with others, we reserved a Sky Suite in The Retreat and chose to either explore the ports of call by ourselves or with a private tour. Highlights from this experience were recalled in my story Spring Back into Travel by Taking a Cruise.
During our visit to St. Thomas, the United States Virgin Islands Department of Tourism hosted an island food tour along with a visit to Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. To learn more, read History Comes Alive at The Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas and St. Thomas Food Tour Experience
Firsthand, we witnessed the devastating effect of the pandemic. Most of the popular attractions had few visitors. We felt fortunate that we could support a few local businesses.
Family Photo Opportunity
Before our eldest son, Josh, and his family returned to India, we gathered for a family photo opportunity and also celebrated Chanukah together. When you have expat adult children the opportunities to come together as a complete family are extremely limited. Professional photographer, Beth Wedlake, recorded one of these moments at the base of Boulder’s Flatirons.
Skiing in Summit County, Colorado
In the winter, we headed to Summit County, Colorado to ski. While we had hoped to spend quality time throughout the ski season with our children and grandchildren, conflicting business and family schedules prevented this from happening more than a couple of times. Most of our ski days were spent together as a couple.
In early January, we chose to postpone our trip to Israel. While we felt confident that we would not need to be hospitalized if we contracted Omicron, we did not know how long we would need to be quarantined in a foreign country. New reservations were made for mid-May.
Copper Mountain Resort hosted The Traveling Bornsteins for several days. Decades ago, we had skied at this resort before we had any children. After one run down the mountain, I recalled why I always enjoyed skiing the rolling terrain at this resort. Ski Report: Revisting Copper Mountain offers highlights from this trip.
In the middle of the ski season, Ira and I were forced to take a break from skiing to recover from a mild case of Omicron. Fortunately, neither one of us experienced any issues after testing positive for COVID. As soon as we were no longer considered contagious, we returned to the High Country.
Completing 100 Things to Do in Boulder Before You Die
Somewhere along the way, I found time to complete my second book, 100 Things to Do in Boulder Before You Die. I had signed a contract to write this book just a few weeks before Ira’s diagnosis. As the pandemic restrictions took hold, I questioned how I could complete the book when so many Colorado businesses were in flux.
After the glioblastoma diagnosis, I could only focus on Ira. I was busy researching ways to beat the odds of a terminal diagnosis and how to remain strong during chemo and radiation treatments. I also created a For Glio webpage and started to share reviews of books and relevant information. When I wasn’t reading or watching webinars or writing about glioblastoma, I was busy cooking and baking nutrient-dense plant-based foods. Before my next deadline, I submitted the transcript and images.
Exploring Portugal and Spain Aboard the Azamara Pursuit
As snow was melting in the High Country, we flew to Lisbon to board an Azamara cruise ship. Our intensive journey took us to the Rock of Gibraltar and several Spanish ports. The crew showered the half-empty ship with tremendous attention as it made its first voyage after the pandemic. Our days were filled with incredible shore excursions. In Exploring Seven Cities on a Spanish Immersive Cruise, I recap the main highlights. I also wrote a story for Real Food Traveler’s website focusing on our post-cruise stay at the Barcelona Almanac
Family Time in Chicago and Scottsdale
Within weeks of returning home, we celebrated Passover, visited family and friends in suburban Chicago, and took a quick getaway to Scottsdale with two of our sons and their families.
Most of our time in Chicago was spent at my in-laws’ Highland Park home. Even though the restrictions of COVID and the aging process caused my in-laws to become housebound, their spirits were soaring as they spent time with Ira. Knowing that our time together is limited, we chose to sit in their home most of the time.
At the JW Marriott in Scottsdale, we were able to divide our time between taking early morning hikes in the desert and swimming in the pool with two of our grandchildren as well as two of our sons and their spouses. We regrouped each evening at area restaurants where we indulged in southwestern cuisine. This mini getaway was a great way to spend quality time with part of our family.
In mid-May, we flew to Israel. Finally, I was able to fulfill Ira’s wish. Our October 2021 and January 2022 trips had been postponed due to COVID.
After the diagnosis, I asked Ira to prepare a list of places that he wanted to visit. Israel was number one on his list. Even though we had previously visited Israel on three separate occasions, he wanted to return.
Tears rolled down my cheek as we exited the plane. Standing at the Western Wall was an empowering moment. Our private Israel My Way tour was jammed packed with amazing experiences that I am still trying to put into words. Two stories were published before this story was written. Transformative Travel Experiences: Mystical Israel and Trekking Across Israel’s Diverse Terrain. Another story focusing on a culinary workshop in the Galilee was published on the Travel Awaits website a week later.
In Haifa, we had a once in a lifetime opportunity to thank Professor Palti, the inventor of the Optune device. It is not too often that individuals can stand face to face with the person who created something that positively affects his/her longevity. We will always remain grateful for the work that Professor Palti and his Novocure team does to improve the quality of life for glioblastoma patients worldwide.
Exploring Iceland via a Silversea Cruise
Just a few days ago, we returned home from our incredible Silversea Cruises voyage to Iceland. Our itinerary maximized our introduction to this unique country with a total population of a few hundred thousand people.
Ira’s vitality was inspiring. We walked many miles every day, including hikes up to a volcano, multiple treks to cascading waterfalls, and strolls along black sand beaches. Turbulent seas prevented us from traveling further off the beaten path to the Faroe Islands. Unlike most of the passengers aboard the Silver Whisper, we felt okay during the voyage and had no problem indulging in the delicious food options while the ship rocked back and forth.
Bring Awareness to GBM Via TV and Radio Interviews
To bring awareness to Glioblastoma, Ira was interviewed by numerous TV and radio stations nationwide. By sharing Ira’s remarkable story, we hope others will be encouraged to find feasible ways to enjoy some of life’s greatest pleasures. While our focus is on family and travel, others may single out other aspects of life. The key is to keep moving and to live each day without regrets.
I am sharing a couple of links to Ira’s interviews. The first one was aired in Texas and the second one in Pennsylvania.
As always, feel free to share this story and/or the links to anyone who needs encouragement to fight a deadly disease.
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.
Connect with Sandra