Patient's Story My Travels by Chonnette Taylor

MY TRAVELS  A Personal Experience by Chonette Taylor 

11 Years ago this month I was diagnosed with CLL. At the time I thought my days of travelling were over. 

I was feeling healthy and as normal as anyone else, but the reality was that with a diagnosis of CLL I might not be able to continue doing all the things I liked. So I closed my business, went to Brazil for a months holiday with my son and during that time I managed to find a volunteer job in a Permaculture Institute for the following year. I will never forget those 3 months. Looking back I can honestly say that had I not gone then, I would have never been able to do that trip. I found I had aggressive prognostic factors and my CLL moved on fast. 

In the years that followed I only managed to do European trips between treatments, but going to Germany, France or Spain for a week or long weekend was just as rewarding as going far away and I felt safe being within a short flight from home. I remember once coming back from France to Bournemouth airport and going direct to the hospital for treatment. 

In 2009 I had a Stem Cell Transplant and all forms of travel stopped then. I remember how exciting it was the first time I was allowed to go to London by train. 

I have just been on a three week trip to La Rioja in Spain, where they produce very good vine and olive oil. I trekked up mountains and visited deserted villages where my grandparents once lived as well as other villages in nearby mountains. The scenery was breath taking, in fact I felt so well doing all that exercise, that I am considering to do part of “St James Way” next year! People sometimes do over several years, only a section each year. Some do 30km a day, some just 10. The challenge is to put aside a month before the full heat of summer hits the region. 

But before I plan the St James Way, I am planning a three month trip to Brazil. I will spend the first part in Pipa Beach, near Natal, in the State of Rio Grande do Norte. I have been told that it is very beautiful there. Later on I will go back to Pirinopolis, a town 160kms from Brasilia, where I spent those 3 months 10 years ago. This time I will not be working, just visiting friends I made in the past and having a relaxing time. Some of the advantages of modern technology are communications, so no matter how far away one is, one can always contact consultants and clinical nurses if one has any concern. 

I am not sure at this point how well connected with internet I will be and how adventurous I will feel once I am there to visit other parts, but if any of you like to keep in touch, please email me, I would love to share the experience. 

This is the first time in 11 years that I am having a time off for myself, a sort of sabbatical, without any pressure, just living and enjoying the adventure.