I liked 2016. I liked it very much. I love to travel more than just about anything, and as I write, I am sailing on the Ocean Tramp toward Port Lockroy and the Penguin Post Office. We’ve been sailing through the South Shetland Islands and Antarctica for the last three weeks, since leaving Ushuaia, Argentina. Antarctica is my 7th continent. I knocked my last three (South America (three times) and Australia, too) this year. I also visited my 49th and 50th states (North and South Dakota). I am a self-admitted passport stamp collector (a passport stamp slut, as I usually put it. Not sure why I felt compelled to write as if I’m in polite company).
If you ask me, I will go with you just about anywhere to fill half a page (or more). If you don’t ask, I’ll find my own way to the international terminal. I filled at least 4 pages of my passport in 2016 and am well on my way to filling my second passport in a row. I was in 11 states and 5 countries and achieved status on American, Delta, and United this year.
Patrick and I had lots of adventures and experiences together in 2016, even though it seemed like I was gone for half the year. We finally did the Ski Utah Interconnect, where I scared the shit out myself on skis for the first time in a while (that’s a good thing). We cat-skied again, visited family in Maryland, took a train to visit friends in California, and spent a lot of evenings (though not enough) with friends in Park City. We lost my shelter cats Emmitt Smith and Teddy Brosevelt, but found Linus, who is fitting into the cat herd seamlessly. Patrick continues to be great for me: A good balance of support, but never worry (at least on the outside). I’m sure he knows that eventually, more bad days are coming, but he never gives me that look of concern that, frankly, drives me mad.
And those bad days didn’t come in 2016. I reconnected with old friends that I love and don’t get to see often enough… My beloved Pi Phi sistahs and I had as raucous a time as a group of exceptionally young 55 year old women could have in Indiana. We partied like we did in the 90s, but with more money and an earlier bedtime.
(Wow. I just ran on deck, because someone spotted a Leopard Seal lounging on an iceberg right next to us. There are only 7 hours left in this year, and it’s still getting better. Epic.)
I took advantage of a visit to Orlando to see my best friend from high school, Chris, who is fighting a valiant and successful battle with Mantle Cell Lymphoma at Moffatt Cancer Center in Tampa. We survived many crazy escapades in high school, and went together to our ten-year reunion mostly to prove to our classmates that we weren’t in jail or rehab. That was my motivation anyway. These are the people you can reunite with after years (or decades) and no time has passed at all. Kids have grown up and moved away, but we haven’t aged at all, and our memories, though decades old, are vacuum-sealed fresh.
In fact, these meetings keep us young and appreciative of where we came from. A different kind of touch-up for your roots.
My Ivanhoe Broadcast News trips took me to LA, San Diego, Scottsdale, and Las Vegas where even though I was working VERY HARD, I managed to spend time with friends and my amazing nieces who’ve grown up to be two of my best friends in each city. Ivanhoe gives the opportunity to get back into journalism, which I still love, and I only have to work a few days at a time, which is perfect. I was a medical reporter earlier in my career, and that’s mostly what I’m doing with Ivanhoe. I do stories about life-changing medical research which can affect and has affected people’s lives for the better. Believe me, I have done a few stories on new technologies and cancer therapies that are tucked away for potential future personal use.
I got to go to Orlando and hang out with the Growing Bolder cool kids to be ON tv and tell the positive stories that are usually missing from traditional television news. I don’t miss talking about the terrible side of humanity or what Britney Spears is up to, that is for sure. That’s part of the reason I decided to leave television in the first place. I always love the opportunity to work with these talented, funny, brilliant people. The job gets done quickly (one-take wonders!), but we laugh so much, my abs hurt sometimes. I value the fierce support and strong friendships I have had with the gang there for a very long time.
Finally, I hit the one-year mark of my PHA trial at Georgetown’s Lombardi Cancer Center. The Milciclib Maleate continues to work with manageable side effects. I won’t list them all here, because it’s a long list that makes my life look less than awesome. But they last only a few days every two weeks, and they are immensely tolerable, especially since this drug is keeping those rogue cancer cells in check. I’m thankful that Southwest Airlines has a program that paid for several of the many, many flights I made back and forth to DC this year (21), and for the fact that I can afford to pay for the flights that weren’t covered. I’m also thankful that when I had come to the point of telling Patrick that I wasn’t sure how much longer I had it in me to continue to fly across the country every 11 days, Dr G said he was comfortable with me coming every six weeks.
I’ll never know how much of a pain it was for my sister in law, Sheryl, to rearrange her schedule many, many times to shuttle me back and forth to the airport, because she’ll never tell me. But she was always cheerful and available to do that and to have me barge in on her and my brother every other week, and I love them both very much for that. Going back and forth to DC/MD every other week for most of 2016 allowed me to spend time with my family that I hadn’t for most of my adult life. There were lunches at Ethiopian, Indian, and Japanese restaurants, and family dinners, and CAPITALS GAMES. And just hanging out with my brother in the living room, both of us on our computers, with a movie on that no one was watching, in comfortable silence.
I don’t know what 2017 will bring, but it will dawn on me on a sailboat anchored off the coast of Antarctica. And when I return to Park City, I will soon jet off to meet up with my Orlando book club pals in Santa Fe, a new city for me and one that I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. Then it’s back to DC/MD Georgetown, and I find out if the life in the new year can continue in the most excellent vein of 2016. If CT scans come back badly, we’ll map out a new plan.
If not, my current plan rocks. Happy New Year, everyone! #Defy #LiveFearlessly