Although I haven’t spoken about this, I wanted to share with you my deeply personal experience of travelling over the last two years. Let me first set some context, Yaya and I have been fortunate to visit some incredible places; places that spur me to see, explore, experience and make the most of every opportunity. Our travel has driven me to visit new cities, hike mountains and jump of cliffs, pushing the boundaries of what I would normally do.What I have never spoken about is how cancer has affected my family and ultimately my perspective on traveling over the last two years.

It came as a crashing shock, a phone call in the early evening – it was my Mum. I knew she had been feeling a little unwell for a while and I knew she had been to visit a consultant, but nothing can ever prepare you from hearing that a loved one has cancer. In that moment, it felt as though my life had stopped – everything went slow; I couldn’t speak – it is something you think will never happen, a conversation so surreal that it feels like it’s on TV. After my Mum broke the news, everything was a whirlwind, how can we fight this, who do I need to speak to, how can I get the best help for my Mum, why do I feel I know nothing, Why are there ‘waiting times’, why isn’t treatment happening tomorrow – nothing ever happens quick enough in that situation. It was an incredibly daunting and isolating situation that may resonate with you. It’s horrible.

When Travelling Becomes Too Hard… (2)

After a horrendous wait, my Mum was admitted to hospital to have treatment. Everything went well, the doctors, nurses and specialists had been able to tell my mum that she had the ‘all clear’ – now lots of recovery time was needed. During this time, Yaya and I did not travel, but after my mum’s recovery we decided to visit Singapore for five months, a journey that we wanted to take and were thoroughly excited about – so was my mum! However, three months in I had another phone call, from my mum – the cancer had returned and it was much more aggressive and in new areas of her body. In that moment, all I wanted to be was beside my mum, to reassure her, to tell her it will be okay and to make her feel less alone. That is the first time in my life that I truly felt powerless and paralysed by my own fear. Being 6,000 miles away in Singapore was unbearable – when cancer affects someone you love, you stop thinking about yourself, where you visit or posting on snapchat etc. Life dramatically changes.

14 months after my mum’s second cancer diagnosis, after multiple operations, intensive care, months in hospital and more than a years recovery at home, she has been given the ‘all clear’. My mum has been brave, she is still recovering, but now able to move around, walk and leave the house for trips. I know how lucky she is. She was even able to come visit Yaya and me in London not too long ago, when I treated her to see Miss Saigon in the West End, something she had always wanted to see and never able to before. Those experiences are precious and something that means more to me than tagging myself in any destination across the globe. A truly beautiful, highly personal and treasured time that I will never forget.

Going forward I feel elated that my mum is doing so well, it means everything to me. I know how lucky she is and how fortunate I am to be planning a future with my mum, she is very special, but one silver lining did come out of this whole experience. It made me be thankful for and value the people around me and to never, ever take them for granted. It made me want to appreciate every single experience, emotion and day with the people I love. Although my mum can’t really travel too far right now, I know she is proud that I am able to travel and experiencing so much in my life – in fact she tells me almost every day and ‘likes’ each and every photo that I put up on Facebook – even if there are 300 in an album! Thanks Mum 🙂

On a personal level, this whole experience had made me value the fragility of life, something that is far too short and gone far too quickly. Life is after all something that we should all be truly grateful for. Don’t make the mistake that I did of worrying about the little things, take the ‘bull by the horns’ – enjoy each and every moment and do what you love most, with the ones you love. Time with loved ones is never enough and far too precious to be wasting and pondering away.

Cancer is an awful, hideous disease, but out of all the awfulness there can be positives. Being able to appreciate and foster ever stronger relationships with the people you love. Take every opportunity that life throws at you, mistakes might be made, but it adds to our journey which can only ever make our lives richer.

When Travelling Becomes Too Hard… (1)


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  • Caroline

    Thanks for sharing Lloyd! Beautifully written. My dad survived cancer too, so reading this brought back a lot of emotions!
    http://www.silverstories.dk

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Hey Caroline – thank you so much for your kind words. It is a very personal journey I wanted to share. It means a great deal that you also shared your experience with me. Thank you.
      Lloyd

  • Wonderful to hear that your mother is doing so much better now! Thank you for sharing such a personal story.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thank you Emily – your words mean so much on this.

      Lloyd

  • This is such a lovely read, I’m in Australia at the moment and the one thing both my boyfriend and I dreaded was getting a similar call from a family member and feeling helpless. Your Mum sounds like an awesome lady and I’m so so glad she is feeling better.

    x

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Hey Jess

      Thanks for sharing too, you always feel so far away. I hope you’re having a lovely time in Australia. Thanks so much for your kind words – I can’t tell you how much it means.

      Lloyd

  • I’m so glad your mum’s better. it must have been difficult for you too.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much for your kind words, as always, Tanja

      Lloyd 🙂

  • I am so glad that your Mom is better. This is my biggest fear as an expat. I am so far away, would I be able to get back if something happened quickly. It is why I make it a point to talk to my parents almost everyday. Thanks for sharing.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much. I totally know what you mean. I do exactly the same as you. Each evening I call my mum and dad, even if it’s just to say goodnight. 🙂
      Lloyd

  • <3 <3 <3 My mom had cancer too, and as I've gotten older I've come to really understand what a scary and lonely time that must have been for her as my sister and me were only 3&6 back then. I'm glad to hear your mom is doing better!! You're right. Time with loved ones is the most important thing ever, and to travel with them is the greatest gift of all <3

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Awwww, Milou – I had no idea. Your so right about it being the greatest gift of all. Can’t wait for our next catch up!!! 🙂
      Lloyd

  • Thank you for sharing this with us, Lloyd. I’m so glad she’s better now and her liking your photos warmed my heart. Moms are seriously the best 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Awwww, thanks Tihana – they really are!

      Lloyd

  • Wow thank you so much for sharing this. My mom recently had a heart attack and has been back and forth to the hospital since the event. I was able to fly over to Mexico to be with her for the last month, but now I am back in Slovenia but she is again in the hospital. Reacting perfectly to treatment but it still very nerve wracking specially when you are away from home. I understand you completely, there is nothing so scary than that plane ride back home. I’m so happy you are spending time with your mom. She sounds like a great human being, know that you are a great son and that seeing you happy makes her joyous. Whether we feel we are up for the task or not, we have to be strong for them. Really, thanks for sharing this. It will be a reminder for me that we are all never alone.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thank you so much for sharing your personal account Isabel. It is always hard when you are far away from family. I’m so glad your mum is doing well with the treatment. You’re right, it is so unnerving.
      Really your comment means so much to me. 🙂

      Lloyd

  • Vava

    Lloyd, what a powerful message. I’m so thankful your Mom is recovering. I know how illness in the family or close friend circle can be so emotionally consuming. The frustration of having to wait for some treatment – OMG, it made me crazy when one of my best friends was diagnosed with lung cancer. He took it in stride, I did not. Anyway, glad to hear things are going well for you and your Mom, now. Take good care of each other.
    Fondly,
    Vava

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Vana, your comment is so kind – thank you so much for sharing your personal experience too. It is always so hard to hear news about someone you care about so much.
      A massive thank you for your thoughtful comment. It means the world to me 🙂
      Lloyd

  • I’m so touched that you had shared such a personal part of your life. As a fellow traveler, I can relate to the same Situation but your experience has shed light and a different perspective. Thank you for sharing.
    Talia

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thank you Talia – I really hope it helps others people know they they are not alone in similar situations as it can be tough.
      A massive thank you for your lovely words 🙂

      Lloyd

  • Emma Michelsen

    Thank you so much for sharing! The same thing happened to me, I had been traveling for a month, still 2 more to go, when my mum called and said my dad had cancer. I knew none of my family members wanted me to come home, but it felt so shitty being away from my dad in a time like that. I’m glad to here your mother is well now, my dad is stil going through treatment, but your story gives me hope!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Emma – I hope everything goes well with your Dad. It can be really hard – I know how it must be for you. Thank you so much for sharing your account too.
      We should always keep hope. Best of wishes to you and your Dad. I hope he gets well soon.
      Lloyd

  • Best wishes to you and your family. I’ve had a similar experience, though on a comparatively lesser scale – I moved to London from Sydney two months ago, and in that small space of time, my family home burned down. Happily no one was hurt, but I known the feeling of feeling completely powerless and helpless. Still, I’m thankful that I’m able to travel and experience life to the fullest – my family wouldn’t want it any other way.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Oh gosh. That’s awful. I’m so glad that everyone was okay a such a relief. It’s a horrible feeling when you are so far away and feel you can do nothing to help. I really hope all is okay with your family and you’re totally right, your family wouldn’t want it any other way.
      Thanks so much for sharing your personal account. It means so much to me.
      Lloyd

  • Brittani Texeira

    Thank you Lloyd so much for sharing this personal story! 2 years ago I was preparing to study abroad in London and during the week I was scheduled to purchase my one way ticket, I found out my father had been diagnosed with Stage IV Lymphoma. I decided to stay home with my family, very happy I did but overall a heartbreaking situation. But as easily as things go wrong, they may also turn bright and he was in remission within a year! Since then, I have been able to study abroad my final year of university in Italy, work abroad in Central America and even travel to a few new countries solo.
    The unpredictability and fragility of life has made me immensely more appreciative of my experiences, as I am sure is the same for you! Thank you again for sharing and my absolute best wishes to you and your mom! So very happy she is also doing well again!
    Brittani

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Hi Brittani

      Thank you for sharing your own deeply personal experience, my best wishes to your family. I can only imagine how hard the whole situation must have been for your father and the rest of your family.

      It’s so great to hear that you’ve been able to study abroad and the amazing places you’ve been fortunate enough to visit. You really have taken the words right out of my mouth… ‘the fragility of life’ is something we need to remember – it really does make you savour every second, especially when travelling.

      Thank you so much for you kind wishes and words. Honestly, I can’t tell you how much they mean. Have a lovely festive season!

      Lloyd x

  • You are a very lucky young man and I’m happy for you, because you have this opportunity that might make you lose sight of what’s important but it hasn’t!

    Cancer is the worst. I’ve had two close people diagnosed with it, and they’re both gone now. So when you’re with your mum, talk to her, hug her, make her laugh… take advantage of whatever time you have with her. Thank you for sharing.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thank you so much for sharing, Natalia – I’m so sorry you’ve lost people to cancer, it’s a terrible disease. I totally agree with you, make the most of our time with each other. I’m definitely taking your advice. It means so much that you shared your experience too. A massive thank you.
      Lloyd 🙂

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  • What an amazing recovery, I was so glad to read that. You’re right that these kind of experiences make you realize what is really important in life – the people we love.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much for your comment Natalie – it’s so great to hear that others feel the same way too!

      Lloyd x

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  • Hayley Rubery

    Oh love, I just stumbled across this post and my heart goes out to you! I am SO glad that your mum is doing well; it really does hit home like that when things happen, it truly makes you realise how precious life is and how things can change in an instant. I lost someone close to me around 6 years ago and it’s devastating, it also spurs me on to make her proud and live life to the fullest. Sending you ALL my love and the biggest squeeze! <3

    Hayley xo
    http://www.frockmeimfamous.com

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You’ve literally made my evening with your kind words, Hayley! Thank you.

      It really is hard isn’t it… especially when things change in an instant.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx