At the first set of follow up scans, the doctor said when my fatigue wears off I am free to travel and that’s what I did – one month travelling around Europe with Topdeck tours. After the second set of scans on my brain, it was time to live my life for another three months. Living your life three months at a time isn’t the best way to live, but it definitely makes you appreciate what you have in your life and how you spend you time.
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I’ve never been to Portugal and have always wanted to go. A great thing about living in the UK is the ease of travel. Cheap flights and a friendly face was all that was needed to initiate the trip. Heather flew from London to Lisbon, and I flew from Manchester and landed within an hour of each other and were met by the friendly face of Shannon. She’s been living in Lisbon for just over a year and has picked up the language really well. She even sounds like a local. We spent the weekend sight seeing some of the main attractions. We couldn’t see them all because of the bad weather, but managed to see a good handful when the weather was nice. Some great places and things to do if you visit Lisbon include:
- the view from Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara,
- Andre the owner and ‘mama’ at ‘Home Hostel Lisbon’ invited us over for a home made meal (which they put on every night for their guests and if you just want a meal),
- check out the food markets at Mercado da Ribeiro open until 2am most days,
- chill at the water museum and see the old aqueduct,
- St George’s castle,
- check out the artwork and cafes at LXFactory,
- See the Padrão dos Descombrintos, the monument which celebrates the age of discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries.
After the weekend, Heather went back to London for work and I headed North by myself to Peniche for some surfing lessons for the week. My surf instructors, Pedro and Ze Miguel, were some funny Portuguese blokes and great surfers. We only had one day of rain and the rest of the week had a mixed bag of conditions for surfing. Peniche has over a dozen surf breaks all facing different directions so no matter what the conditions were we were able to find some waves to ride.
After the week of surfing all day every day, my body was shattered. All I wanted was a massage. Instead, I met Alex an incredible artist come tattoo artist. We started designing a tattoo for my arm, something meaningful, something to acknowledge my cancer but to inspire me to keep living my life. We came up with ‘Aproveita a Vida’, Portuguese for ‘Enjoy Life’ – something that means much more to me now than ever. To enjoy what time I have left as every scan puts a question mark over my life expectancy.
The tattoo summed up the trip to Portugal, the new friends I’d made there, the adventures around Europe and most of all, it sums up my attitude to life. Don’t work too hard and miss life. Work hard when you need to work hard, but take in the moments that count and enjoy life as much as you can as you never know when something might happen and you will regret postponing having fun while you could have – ‘Aproveita a Vida’.