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My name is Jamie MacDonald, I’m 25 years old and I have cancer. A grade 3 Astrocytoma, to be specific. I was diagnosed in January 2015 and have since undergone radiotherapy and multiple courses of chemotherapy in an attempt to reduce the size of the inoperable tumour that resides within my brain.
There have been many times when I reach the end of a chemo block that all I want to do is get away for a few days and spend some time in the sun, recharging my batteries. Unfortunately, travel insurance can be prohibitively expensive if you don’t know where to look, which can prevent a lot of cancer patients from travelling.
A few weeks ago I was at one of these breaks in treatment and, along with one of my mates from Uni, decided to spend a few days relaxing in the sun before treatment started again. So we made a trip to the travel agent’s with a brief: “Short holiday, no party islands, just a beach and a pool”. Half hour later we were leaving the shop having booked 5 days at a beach-side hotel in Corfu.
Fourteen days after that I was fully insured thanks to InsuranceWith and we were onboard the plane. In a change to previous holidays I had with me in my hand luggage not only a passport and snacks but a chemo booklet that contained my diagnosis details as well as contact details in case of an emergency.
As the other passengers filtered aboard a nervous looking man approached us and, much to my annoyance, got us to shuffle along so he could sit in the aisle seat forcing me to relinquish my leg room and move into the centre seat for takeoff. When the seatbelt sign was turned off our new mate got up and headed silently toward the back of the plane, never to be seen again. The mystery of the missing man bothered us throughout the holiday, and the only theory we can come up with for his disappearance is a Bond-style parachute exit through the back door.
Our hotel was a nice building, set among surprisingly green gardens, with a pool and a beach bar. The beach this bar was attached to then spread a fair distance in both directions, adorned by a multitude of restaurants and beach bars, every other one advertising that they sold “The Best Gyros” in Corfu. I was to be left disappointed however when not one of these locations could live up to their marketing as the kebab meat failed to meet standards.
Once settled in we decided to take a trip into Corfu Town, where we found ourselves in a typically Greek town with plenty of restaurants to try, as well as a backup McDonalds just in case. Fortunately this wasn’t required as the restaurant recommended by the taxi driver served lovely grub with the benefit of being near the pick up point to get back to our hotel. That evening, fully fuelled by some successful grub, we got to the beach bar just before the entertainment started and chose a table near the space that had been cleared for the dancers to use. This would come back to haunt us a few minutes later when they picked random people to join in the dances and we were both selected for the honour of making fools of ourselves in front of fellow guests.
Day two would become the laziest of the entire holiday, comprising of sunbathing on the beach interspersed with the occasional walk twenty feet to the hotel beach bar to refill our drinks. This day alone would have fulfilled our requirements we had expressed to the travel agents and did a lot when it came to topping up our tans.
On our third day we decided to investigate the water sports that were available just around the bay from the hotel and, having perused the options, we decided to go with parasailing. This gave me a chance to break out my GoPro for the first time and get some shots of the picturesque scenery as well as some unflattering shots of us crashing into the sea from a height. After an exhilarating ten minutes of parasailing we swam/limped back around the beach to our towels as somebody had come up with the bright idea to walk to the water sports place without our flip flops on a beach made up mostly of razor-like rocks and pebbles.
Our final full day dawned and thankfully we saw the weather had held out, the thunderstorm that had threatened to spoil the party all week had passed us by. In celebration of this we had a day by the pool making final adjustments to our tans.
As the sun set and the evening came in we toasted to a successful trip, to my tumour for staying calm the entire time and to InsuranceWith for allowing it to happen. Now to start thinking about where to go next!