Still, I’ll Rise – Feeling ‘normal’ as a cancer survivor in the lifestyle – Lifestyle & Nudist Travel Blogs

Feeling ‘normal' as a cancer survivor

Years ago a loved one showed me their new tattoo that simply stated,

“Still I'll Rise”

I would have never thought that these words would have resonated so much to me in the future.

As many of you know, I have battled colon cancer for the last 2 years – I'm currently NED (No Evidence of Disease) and doing well. I had a rough 2 years – spent 92 nights in the hospital, life flighted twice, had blood clots in my leg and both lungs, had a nephrostomy tube for months, was fed IV nutrition for 7 months, did 25 rounds of radiation and 6 months of chemo along with a 13-hour lifesaving surgery. But that surgery left me with a permanent ileostomy. I have a love/hate relationship with my stoma. I will never like it and what it signifies to me as a constant reminder that I am a cancer survivor. But, I'll always be grateful to it – without it, I'm sure I wouldn't have survived my battle.

The other side of the coin – I am part owner in a successful lifestyle, clothing optional travel agency “W.E.T. (World Exotic Travel). I frequent Hedonism, Desire and Temptation Resorts as well as their cruises and Bliss cruises. I came to the hard realization that I would someday be naked in one of those areas.

It's daunting for many without a very obvious body difference. For me, it was one of the hardest moments of my life

It's daunting for many without a very obvious body difference. For me, it was one of the hardest moments of my life. Removing my pool coverup, standing naked next to a pool with a couple hundred other naked bodies. And feeling more naked than I'd ever been in my life. I stood there with my ugly black pouch belt on – which I'd wrapped a pretty scarf over and slowly waded in and made my way to the pool bar at Hedo. I felt like the odd duckling on display – like everyone was staring at me. But as I got a drink and started looking around the pool – some miraculous things happened. None of our staff knew we would be showing up at Hedo – then, some of our customers saw me, then our staff saw me. And, I can't tell you how many hugs I received, how many words of encouragement and… “how accepting everyone was.”

Almost no one cared that my body was different or that I wore a scarf around my waist. They just welcomed me and talked to me as if nothing had changed – and in those moments, I had to realize that, honestly nothing much had changed with me. I was still me – love me or hate me – I was alive and a survivor. Sure, I had a couple comments made to me – one woman whispered to me that I had too many clothes on. Another person asked why I was wearing a fanny pack in the pool. I just smiled and turned back to my drink – enjoying the opportunity to experience the nude pool again, to have fun with my staff and watch the dynamic of the crowd.

The day couldn't have been more tailor-made for me when a gentleman from Canada stood next to me at the bar ordering a drink. I looked over and noticed that he was wearing the same pouch belt I was sporting. I had been to Hedo many times before and had never seen anyone with an ostomy. Then, on a day that it mattered to me, there was a comrade. He and I talked for quite a while. He was also battling colon cancer and this was his first time back to Hedo post-surgery as well. Throughout the week, we continued to chat whenever we saw each other in the pool. He and his wife both thanked me – it's weird as I never thought of thanking someone for being different by no fault of their own. But I got it – I thanked him as well.

A couple evenings later, while standing in line for dinner at one of the specialty restaurants, a woman with a double mastectomy was smiling and laughing without a care in the world. She was wearing a beautiful revealing dress – proudly showing her complete mastectomy scars. I went up to her and thanked her for normalizing being different. I told her I had a stoma. She pulled me into a hug and said, “it's just scars that let the world know we fought the devil and won!” She then high fived me and we went our separate ways – me maybe just a little happier.

As the week wore on, I noticed so many more “body different” people. Some with large scars, some with mastectomies, some with obvious surgical reminders of battles won and the ability to be naked in the Hedo pool in spite of what life put in their way. They were smiling, laughing and not a care in the world. That's when I realized that the Hedo pool is a true leveling ground and lifestyle people are truly amazing. We are all different in some way – some with obvious scars, some with scars on the inside – but in the pool, we were all just enjoying the sunshine, the booze, the friends and the entertainment – with our troubles left far behind.

​​​​March Is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

  During March World Exotic Travel will donate a portion of all bookings made to Colontown.

COLONTOWN is an online community of more than 120 “secret” groups on Facebook for colorectal cancer patients, survivors, and CarePartners. If you or your loved one is facing a colon cancer or rectal cancer diagnosis, you can join groups (we call them “neighborhoods”) based on your stage of disease, specific types of treatment, and special interests – such as colorectal cancer clinical trials, young-onset colorectal cancer patients, and local support groups. Every neighborhood is led by Neighborhood Hosts, themselves living the experience.

Colorectal (Colon) Cancer

Colon cancer develops from polyps (growths) in your colon's inner lining. Healthcare providers have screening tests and treatments that detect and remove precancerous polyps. If untreated, colon cancer may spread to other areas of your body. Thanks to these tests, early treatment and new kinds of treatment, fewer people are dying from colon cancer.

Colorectal cancer screening saves lives.

Regular screening, beginning at age 45, is the key to preventing colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum). If you're 45 to 75 years old, get screened for colorectal cancer regularly. If you're younger than 45 and think you may be at high risk of getting colorectal cancer, or if you're older than 75, talk to your doctor about screening.