Last year I went to see my doctor, because I wanted to plan my future with him. I had decided to make the best use of the good times I still had, but I needed him to endorse my visions. He didn’t. I thought: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” – and I actively looked for alternatives. Sounds easy. Isn`t easy though.
Originally, I had planned to take my children out of school for a year in 2019/2020. We wanted to buy a motor caravan and travel through Asia with them. My husband and I would have home-schooled or “camper-schooled” them.
When I went to see my leukemia specialist, I told him that moving from Central to Southern Europe had only been the first step. I explained that I wanted to travel more, maybe move to India someday, to Canada or to New Zealand. I also said that I had the intention of living in a caravan and travelling around. I had just come back from a wonderful trip to Sri Lanka with my daughter and I was enthusiastic about those plans.In a nutshell, he said I could forget about all that. He was horrified by the thought that I had been to Sri Lanka recently and told me he wouldn’t have allowed me to go if he had known before. (Note: Sometimes it’s better not to ask for permission – just do it!) The specialist broke the news to me that I had only one year left for traveling to countries outside of Europe, countries where exotic diseases like malaria, yellow fever and the zika virus could be hazardous for my immune system.
This happened in August 2015. My first reaction was to take the book “1000 places to see before you die” and open it randomly like if I was consulting an oracle. I spent days with the book. Then I called a friend who specializes in tropical medicine. I asked him for the most dangerous places to go health-wise. He answered that Central and Eastern Africa were quite risky due to the huge amount of tropical diseases there. Fine with me. it was time for Africa! I went to Uganda and Rwanda during the Christmas holidays and brought my nine-year-old son along. Having been to Sri Lanka with my daughter I thought that I would use the remaining traveling time wisely and take each kid on a special journey abroad. I had such a great time in those amazing countries. The only moments when I became sentimental were when people asked me “When will you be back?”. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it again.
I have three months of traveling left. Then I will re-negotiate my future with my doctor. Maybe I can squeeze half a year more out of him. I am already planning our next trips: a journey with my 8-year-old son, maybe to Papua New Guinea and a final holiday with my whole family. A celebration and – a farewell.
I like the lemon analogy, but it doesn’t always work. I must compromise a lot. I worked as a foreign correspondent once and participated in a development aid project. I consider being in touch with other cultures and traveling to exotic places as an essential part of myself. I know I am making the best out of a difficult situation. Yet, I don’t want to lie to you: The lemon juice leaves a bitter taste sometimes.
I still have three months to go! If you want to share travel advice here, please do so. A question I ask everybody I meet these days is: Which was the most fascinating place you have been to? If French singer Patricia Kaas had only a week left to live, she would go to New York.
What would your answer be?