Back again!

Sorry I’ve been gone so long! I went on an 8 day trip with my backpacking buddy to the Porcupine Mountains in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She doesn’t like hiking in the heat, and it was the coolest place I could think of (70s in the day, 50s at night). In the end we drove about 1600 miles and hiked about 30-35 miles of wilderness. We saw a peregrine falcon, three bald eagles, lots of evidence of wolves, snakes and even a black bear (it crossed the road when we were driving home!).

I love backpacking..the physical challenge, undisturbed nature, the hiking. I over-packed my backpack, I think it weighed close to 40 lbs. Backpacking makes me appreciate lots of things I normally take for granted…unlimited water, unlimited food, easy access to communication. We don’t get cell phone access most places we backpack and of course have no computer communication (it’s actually really nice to have a break from the “electronic world”). My partner is a paramedic and I’m a nurse, that’s kind of nice as in case of emergency we can’t call 911. There was a sign posted at the trailheads saying to be careful as “medical help is hours away”.

I packed few clothes and a lot of food; I am all about size and weight when we backpack. I love the little stove I’ve had for years, an alcohol stove. The stove and enough fuel (alcohol tablets) to last the better part of a week is about the size and weight of a deck of cards. My weaknesses are my inflatable Big Agnes mattress (2 lbs.), and books I carry as I read myself to sleep every night (4lbs….maybe I’ll invest in a Kindle for next time?). I also carry at least 3 liters of water every day (over 6 lbs) and a bigger tent I love (4 lbs.). My backpack itself weighs 3 lbs. I don’t know how, but the pounds add up! I took a water filter (1.5 lbs) that ended up not working. Don’t laugh, I filtered sediment from water with my clothes and then chemically treated it with Aquamira. I think next time I won’t bring a filter! The treated water was still tan colored from the tannin in the water, but still worked well for coffee with the new Starbucks instant every morning.

Next year I plan to backpack Isle Royale, an island only accessible by a three hour ferry or float plane. The island is a national park and backpackers dream.

When I got back, I worked a lot of hours at my job, and on my off day had my colonoscopy. I truly hate doing the prep and procedure with the IV start and hospital gown. I now hate any form of cancer testing. I don’t want to be a patient again!!! And I’m a bad IV start nowadays, post chemo and a million labs it takes multiple sticks usually to access my veins. They did get me in one stick this time, though!

I guess in the back of my mind I remember how quickly “normal” life can become “life altering” with just one test. I always have polyps that are pre-cursors to colon cancer. This time I waited over 3 years for my colonoscopy vs. the recommended 2. They only found one polyp this time, so my doc said I can go to three years between colonoscopies…yeah!!

More Help

I was recently made aware of a source of more grants for cancer survivors. I was sent this email text:

“I saw your blog post on grant money available for appendix cancer survivors and wanted to let you know that The SAMFund is currently accepting grant applications for young adult cancer survivors. The SAMFund ( provides sizeable “living grants” ($2K on average) to young adult cancer survivors (ages 17-35) to help pay for various transitional costs including medical and living expenses, certain types of tuition, family-building expenses, health and wellness, and more.”

This link offers more information about the grants: Grants

Sorry for the late notice, but please check out the site soon, the deadline for Part 1 of the application is July 12th.

If I learn of any other grants, I will be sure to post them here!

I will be gone for a little over a week…will be driving about 1200 miles round trip to go on a wilderness backpacking trip with a good friend! Will touch base when I get back!