Andrew has been doing great. He’s even gotten a lot of his taste back. When his taste first started returning after treatment, he could only taste bitterness. Now, he can taste almost everything, even sweet. He says it’s all a bit faded from what his taste was pre-treatment, but since he can’t really remember what it used to be like, it doesn’t bother him. His taste has returned so much faster than we expected, because it has been less than two months since his treatments ended, and the doctors had said it would take three to six months for his taste to begin returning. We didn’t expect much at that, since they said probably only 50% would return. One person who is very familiar with oral cancer said that Andrew’s body has recovered remarkably quickly, even several months ahead.
The only thing that affects his daily life in an obvious way at this point is just that he sleeps about ten hours a night, gets tired out easily, and needs to rest in the afternoon. The doctors say this is normal and should last about a year, as his body continues to heal from chemo, which kills good cells in addition to bad cells all throughout your body.
We are really amazed at how quickly Andrew has recovered. We see constantly how God has been so gracious to Andrew and to our family, not only prolonging his life, but blessing his recovery as well.
So, as we mentioned in an earlier post, we wanted to take a vacation just the two of us. We were looking for somewhere extremely relaxing and undemanding where we could both depressurize after the most stressful five months of our lives (I got my first white hair!). And, most importantly, restful enough to aid Andrew in his recovery, rather than cause him to over-exert himself. Initially, we decided upon Vancouver, B.C., because during the few, short day trips we had taken there, we loved it, but always wished we had time to explore it more. It’s one of the largest cities in Canada and despite its proximity to the U.S., totally feels like you are in another country, yet with the convenience of English being the spoken language. A Canadian friend also told us that Vancouver is one of the most special places to visit in Canada. Since it’s only two hours north of where we live, we could avoid plane fares and renting a car, as well as be close enough to the kids in case of an emergency. Then we thought if we stayed just outside of Vancouver, hotel rates would be less expensive. As we did our research, in the end, we discovered White Rock, a beach town on the coast south of Vancouver. .
We had a great time in White Rock. Due to my wheat allergy, we stayed in a room with a kitchenette so that we had the option of cooking, since nearly everything in restaurants is made with wheat. We ate eggs and rice in the morning on our deck overlooking the ocean. One of Andrew’s favorite things is a great view. Since we overlooked the ocean, if Andrew needed to rest, we could still enjoy the beautiful view from our room. Also, since our altitude is higher, we could enjoy the sun until after 9pm in the evenings.
Alongside the water was a boardwalk that runs for miles. Across the street from the boardwalk were tons of ice cream shops, bakeries, and restaurants. The beach town reminded us of California only not overcrowded and some of the people spoke with lilts and said things like “surrey” for “excuse me” or “gaahrage” for “gas station.” We had so much fun in White Rock, we never had need to drive the half hour to Vancouver, which probably would have been too tiring for Andrew to do the touristy thing anyway.
I had also really wanted to spend some time at a spa, because I thought that would be super-relaxing. But when we looked online a few months ago, all the spas in Canada that popped up were too far and absurdly expensive. Then, when we mentioned to someone last week at church that we were going to Canada, they asked us if we had heard of Harrison Hot Springs, where tons of people from our church go every year. I had never mentioned my initial desire to go to a spa, and yet that is exactly what it was – and, close-by and affordable.
So, after two nights in White Rock, we drove the hour and a half further to Harrison Hot Springs Resort. It is located on a large lake nestled between four mountains. The big attraction about the Resort is the hot tubs filled with water from the hot springs. They recommend only spending ten minutes at a time in the hot tubs. So we spent our first afternoon dunking between the hot tub and slightly cooler pools. It was soooo relaxing. We got to do that each day. It was exactly what we needed. Also, at the spa, Andrew was able to get an awesome massage, and a good masseuse is hard to come by! I’m so grateful Andrew was able to enjoy that.
At dinner, we faced the same challenge that always accompanies finding a restaurant for me: Can they specially make a dish that is wheat and gluten free? In addition to breads, pastas, and flour, even soy sauce, white vinegar, mayo, mustard are all made with wheat. We looked in at one of the restaurants in the resort. It turned out to be a really appetizing buffet, which meant almost certainly 100% mixed with wheat. Well, it turns out they try to be really sensitive to all kinds of food allergies. The chef took me through each of the dishes and explained that instead of mixing flour into all their sauces, they used cornstarch, and red wine vinegar instead of white vinegar. Nearly all their dishes, minus the two pasta dishes and the basket of bread, was gluten free! Even their salad dressings were all gluten-free. I have never seen so many gluten-free dishes in my six months of being off of wheat. I mean, even if a restaurant carries a few gluten-free dishes they super advertise it, but this one didn’t even mention it. Plus, gluten-free restaurants often taste like they’ve made serious substitutions, but you couldn’t tell the difference here. We ate outside on the restaurant balcony with a breath-taking view of the lake and the mountains that surrounded us like a giant alcove, furthering our unwinding.
I’m not sure we could have asked for a more relaxing vacation. Nothing on the agenda and we couldn’t even wear watches because we spent so much time in the water. The Lord also provided all our gluten-free meals for us. We got to be beach bums for five days and it was great. The Lord really provided for us as always and we are so grateful.