Hoisting the Cancer Backpack

It’s amazing how easy it is to hike when you don’t have to carry a pack.  The air seems lighter.  The ascents don’t feel so steep.  
France wasn’t just an amazing family trip.  It was a vacation from cancer.  
There’s a cultural pattern to how Americans respond to evidence of my cancer.    People are open, up front, sympathetic, caring and forward.  My bald head is an announcement, a welcome sign to others who have walked the walk.  And I benefit so greatly from this cultural perspective.
But I have to admit it was nice to spend 5-weeks in France, where the only clue to other’s awareness of my cancer was a little bit more kindness and respect.  The public reaction was so different from here that for five weeks, it was almost possible to believe I wasn’t living with cancer, despite neuropathy that woke me at night and lungs that seemed to be on strike that first week.  
Coming back to the U.S. was like settling in again to a heavy backpack.  It’s well worn and shaped to my body, so it’s not uncomfortable.  In fact, there’s a solidity in it.  It’s weight reassures me of my strength.
But it’s a bit heavy.
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