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Temporarily relocating to a different sofa

Posted in Health, and Women's issues

Tomorrow I will be flying – if British Airways cooperates – to the other side of the world, to the very tip of Africa, crossing two continents and an ocean, to settle my butt on sofagirl’s sofa in her Cape Town house. Sue has planned more activities than a professional travel agent – and I suspect she typed an itinerary to keep everything straight – but, knowing us, a few things will fall by the wayside in favor of chocolate and Netflix on the sofa. This blog is not called Campari and Sofa for no reason.

The last time we saw each other was nearly two years ago in New York. To be more precise, we reconnected around midnight on a dark street in Brooklyn. I arrived with heavy baggage, in the knowledge that, a few days after my return, I would undergo breast cancer surgery.

Some people thought I was mad to postpone a surgery to fit in a trip that had been planned over months but, with the blessing of my surgeon, I instinctively knew it was the right thing to do. Being with my best friend was going to infuse me with the strength and level headedness I was going to need in the months to come. We laughed, we kept the panic at bay and, all in all, had a jolly good time, quite a bit of it spent on a not so comfortable Brooklyn sofa with chocolate and Netflix. Plus ca change…

Receiving a cancer diagnosis – or any other serious illness for that matter – does not affect just one person but an entire family and beyond. To get through it, it takes a village. At the hospital where I volunteer, I see disease taking its toll on everyone around the person lying in bed. It’s not unusual for family members to break down with me, recounting the history of an illness in precise details. I recognize the tiredness, the worry, and, at times, the impotence.

The medical community is only now beginning to take into consideration the whole person and the support network around her when suggesting courses of treatment. Overcoming serious illness becomes a collective endeavor. I know it was for me. I benefitted from the doctors, certainly, and their caring staff but my resiliency was supported by my amazing family; by the friends who checked in on a regular basis; by my mother and my other best friend, Silvia, who decided, unbeknownst to me, that letting me spend Christmas with a bandaged breast and no proper tortellini just wouldn’t do, and showed up unannounced; by spending two weeks in New York doing silly things. Everyone helped me walk the tight line between focussing on the disease but also carrying on with the business of living.

At a time in our country when healthcare has become part of a noxious political discourse, how can we not take into consideration that keeping people healthy benefits an entire society? That disease is not a set of calculations and bottom lines but the measure of a progressive nation?

For a country whose Constitution proudly claims an individual’s right to happiness not to recognize that there can be no happiness without health, is a shameful shortcoming.

This is my parting rant. I am going for two weeks of reconnecting with my best friend, hoping to take in an elephant or two in the wilderness, and planning to enjoy fully all the moments in between. Maybe you will hear from the both of us, if a cocktail or two inspire us to write. Maybe you will just have to wait for my report back.

In the meantime, take care of yourselves and of those around you.

 

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30 Comments

  1. Have safe travel and a marvelous time! Sounds wonderful! I empathised and appreciated your comments re: cancer as I’ve been both patient and caregiver. working with cancer patients. Best wishes ever for your journey!

    October 12, 2017
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    • Thank you! The post was actually from last May so I have been to South Africa and back in the meantime. Saw lions, elephants etc etc but, most of all, I spent time with my best friend in the world.

      October 13, 2017
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  2. Enjoy your time together. BA IT systems – ho-hum! Thanks for sharing about the breast cancer. I appreciate how emotional a time it was for you, and thank God for great friends.

    June 5, 2017
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  3. Grazie! Hai scritto delle parole bellissime e molto incoraggianti (oltre che coraggiose). Buone vacanze: Campari, sofa sudafricano, elefanti e cioccolato 🙂

    June 1, 2017
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  4. Have a safe trip, Camparigirl! I hope you and Sofagirl have lots of fun. Say hello to an elephant for me, will you? 🙂

    May 30, 2017
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  5. Bon voyage!
    Say hello to Cape Town for me and eat and drink lots of delicious food and wine.
    Bisous

    May 30, 2017
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    • Merci! Restaurants are booked, although I am expected to make bagels shortly after I land…

      May 30, 2017
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  6. Ellie
    Ellie

    Buon Viaggio Claudia ! Give Sue a hug from me – I know you’ll have a wonderful time. What you say about healthcare is so very true and it is a world wide issue. I’d like to add that I’ve just come back from Sardinia and seeing my lovely best friend (we met when we were 11) before she goes back to the UK to undergo bowel cancer surgery. So, as you can imagine, everything you said in this post was like a huge hug from you. Thank you.

    May 30, 2017
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    • Grazie Ellie! And my very best to your friend. May she recover fast and well. And don’t forget to check in with her. Even if she is not up to talking or writing back, she will appreciate it.

      May 30, 2017
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  7. babett
    babett

    Have a lovely and safe trip and welcome to South Africa…;)

    May 30, 2017
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    • Thank you both! (my dogs have seen the suitcase and are in a dire mood…I think they are hoping, against hope, they are coming with)

      May 30, 2017
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  8. Valerie Gordon Cohen
    Valerie Gordon Cohen

    Safe travels dear Claudia. I look forward to seeing you when you return.

    May 30, 2017
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    • Thank you Val! I will come back with stories and pictures.

      May 30, 2017
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  9. ‘Go well, stay well’ as the African saying goes when parting company or going on a journey. I’m green with envy that you will be in my home city, have a fantastic time with Sofagirl and let the rest of the world go hang….

    May 30, 2017
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    • Next time, China! And we will have to break bread – or noodles! I am planning to forget about the world for a little while (if the world will let me)

      May 30, 2017
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  10. Have a great time! Nothing like spending time with those important to you to renew your spirit.

    May 30, 2017
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  11. Elena
    Elena

    Have a wonderful safe trip dear Claudina

    May 30, 2017
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  12. Have a wonderful reconnect with Sofagirl and send my best. Wishing you the ultimate holiday vibes. I’m intending to plan a trip away with best friend soon too so I will be vibing off yours. Was it really 2 years ago that you were in NYC? Yikes! 🙂

    May 29, 2017
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    • It will be two years in November so not quite…When are you coming out here??

      May 30, 2017
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      • I would love to. I’ll let you know, don’t worry. Hoping novel done within next few weeks so that life may begin!! 🙂

        May 30, 2017
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        • Wow! congratulations – look forward to reading it.

          May 30, 2017
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  13. Trip of a lifetime – envious. Been to East Africa and Mt. Kilimanjaro but not ZA

    May 29, 2017
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    • Will definitely report back. South Africa is beautiful. You should consider it.

      May 30, 2017
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