Cancer and me 35 years on - Vol 8 - Lanzarote & Menorca

‘Cancer & me 35 years on, vol 8’written in green and pink letters next to a photo of Willo smiling and wearing a red rose in her hair.

On a very cold and grey January afternoon during a national lockdown, thinking about holiday memories can be a lovely pass time. National travel restrictions mean it may be a while before we can pack our suitcases excitedly again, but luckily today our guest blogger Willo, known on the Community as patsyann85, is here to tell us about her first holiday in Europe after recovering from her Abdominoperineal Resection procedure. To catch up with the rest of Willo’s blog series, ‘Cancer & me 35 years’ on, click here.

Lanzarote & Menorca

At the end of April and beginning of May, my friend Alma invited me to spend two weeks with her at her time-share in Lanzarote – and another friend offered to pay my airfare, so footloose and fancy free for the first time since I was 14, off I went for my first holiday in Europe.

'Footloose and fancy free for the first time since I was 14, off I went for my first holiday in Europe' 

A photograph Willo has taken of a beach in Lanzarote at sunset, the sky is pink and blue.

Two other friends, Fran and Malcolm, had asked me to go to Menorca with them, as they were spending two weeks in a lovely villa right on the Mediterranean, belonging to two mutual friends. (Not a day goes by without me thinking how good friends have been to me and how lucky I am) 

'Not a day goes by without me thinking how good friends have been to me and how lucky I am' 

The only problem being, that I wouldn’t have time to get home to my folks from the first trip before I had to fly to Gatwick to meet Fran and Malcolm. Undeterred I arrived back from Lanzarote and spent the night on three chairs in the waiting room at Manchester Airport in order to fly to Gatwick on the first flight next morning!

A photograph of Willo, sitting outside at a white table and chairs smiling into the camera. She is wearing a black sunhat and holding sunglasses.

I had kept up my daily exercise routine and spent lots of time swimming, finding some consolation in still being able to wear a bikini. I just tucked in whatever appliance I was wearing and was then experimenting with what was know as a stoma plug, which literally plugged up the stoma if it was inactive at that time. My biggest problem was that my stoma never settled down to any regular bowel movements, so I never could anticipate what was going to happen and when – an eruption could occur at any time!

 'Finding some consolation that in still being able to wear a bikini. I just tucked in whatever appliance I was wearing and was then experimenting with what was known as a stoma plug' 

A photograph of a harbour in Menorca, the scene shows lots of lovely white boats on calm blue water with buildings lining the harbour.

I met Fran at Gatwick, but not Malcolm, as he had an important job interview and had decided to remain at home, so Fran and I went off together for two weeks in the sun, except the first week was freezing and having just spent two glorious weeks in the Canaries I was totally unprepared for the cold – and so was Fran for that matter - and the marble floors and walls of the villa were not exactly warm and cosy, so we kept warm by sharing a bed!

A photograph of a sunny river in Menorca from a high vantage point, there are white fishing boats on the water and lovely house on the banks.

'So Fran and I went off together for two weeks in the sun, except the first week was freezing' 

Photograph from Willo's holiday balcony of a large ship in a harbour in Menorca.
From the bedroom we could watch the ships sail by on the Mediterranean

The weather did improve, and we had a hilarious time together. The holiday was rounded off by my suitcase falling apart and me travelling home with all my clothes bundled up in a chitenge (fabric sarong) in true Zambian style – and thrown into the hold with a luggage label attached! It was two days before my interview at Liverpool Poly.

'The holiday was rounded off by my suitcase falling apart and all my clothes bundled up in a chitenge (fabric sarong) - and thrown into the hold with a luggage label attached!'

It was two days before my interview at Liverpool Poly.

We want to thank Willo for kindly sharing her writing and wonderful photographs with us. The Community is a safe place where anyone who has been affected by cancer can talk openly with others for peer support. In today’s blog, Willo talks about her experiences with a Stoma plug, if you would like to speak to others who are living with a stoma, why not join our Ileostomy, colostomy and stoma support’ discussion group today.

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