Monday, July 28, 2014

The Best (Most Needed) Family Beach Escape Ever!

Yachats, Oregon
Practically every summer since I was born my family has spent time in the summer on the Oregon coast, usually in Yachats or Waldport and this place holds more magic for my soul than anywhere else on earth - no doubt the beauty, the family memories of spending time with my family walking the trails, seeing the view and basking in the summer sea air over 30 years, this is a soul place. I love everything about it! This past month has been a whirlwind of two weeks in the hospital, which actually scared all of us that cancer was getting the leading edge for a bit while I spent nearly two weeks in bed in the hospital and Hospice house, then home in bed due to pain. Coming out of that, I was trying to create a little normal again and was able to work a few days  for a few hours last week, and then I was flooded with love through the benefit and the kindness of friends and family, but I admit, by the end of last week, I was tired and craving introvert hideout time to process and be with my family.
Last week we did labs again, the check-in on the first two weeks of the new chemo. So far my side effects have really only been a very hoarse voice, being tired, feeling weak (but I was also in bed for almost two and a half weeks straight so it will take a bit to regain some strength) and that food never tastes the way I remember it should and I can only eat a little bit at a time. I'm tired, and slowly learning what I can handle...a few tasks a day is plenty (which feels very strange to this uber productive woman who is not used to slowing down EVER - but I'm learning).  Last week was also a tumor marker lab's a way to monitor the tumor growth without constant CTs (we'll do another CT in a few months), but this week, my tumor marker is up again from 534 to 686. Seeing the number made my heart drop. It's still growing. But I have to remind myself that I have only been on the new chemo exactly two weeks the Fairy Godmother said in Cinderella, "Even miracles take a little time." Needless to say, when my family gave me the opportunity to spend the weekend on the coast together, it couldn't have come at a better time.
Road trips, good food, laughter and photos usually sum up our family vacations and this one was my summer dream! I'm so thankful that it worked out for the family to escape to the beach for a few days and get some respite from the crazy cancer routine we have been on for months and just enjoy nature, each others company and so much laughter!!

My incredible champions/family on Smelt Sands, in Yachats, OR...the beginning of the 401 Trail we have walked hundreds time over the years, this time, we sat and watched the view...

My best friend Jessica, who I have known since high school, made her second trip to Bend for me this month from Boise, which selfishly gave us quality time together too, but as a nurse, she also gave my family and I peace of mind that we were able to travel with our very own private nurse and everyone was able to relax for the weekend. A much needed gift to the family! It was a real gift to have her with my family - we laughed SO much, took hundreds (literally) of photos and she captured lots of photos of my family together.

We stayed in a family friend's house in Waldport, but drove along the coast to all my favorite places from Florence to Newport, taking in the glorious sunshine, the warm weather and salty sea breeze and putzing through some of our usual favorite family haunts.

My beautiful sister/bestie (yes, she's that awesome she gets both titles...),
My sister and I share the love of the beach. We have been known to drive over for the day (6 hours each way) just to watch the sunset and sink our toes in the sand for a moment. I think after all our summers at the coast, the salt air and sand are in our blood, and we can never stay away from this magical place for too long. It was such a gift that my sister was able to sneak away from work so we could enjoy a perfect vacation together! She makes me laugh harder than anyone, and there were certainly hours of laughing until we all were crying! Laughter, the ocean and my people - quite possibly the best healing combination ever!!

My beautiful mama  
My mama has been such an incredible rock/nurse/caregiver/friend/support and joy maker in my life always, but especially in the past few months (wow, actually 6 months...I just counted, I first got sick in February...this has been going on for 6 months - that's wild!). One of my favorite things is when you can get my mom to laugh until she cries and there is actually no sound coming out of her because she is laughing so hard. We joke and say "now you've REALLY done it." That happened quite a few times on this trip! Pure bliss!! She is always someone to inspire me by finding beauty, creativity and joy around us.

Beth took this photo on her early morning walk when she actually went to find me a seashell since I couldn't go far enough yet (I'm gaining strength back slowly) but I LOVE the texture in this shot!!
Laughing with my dad
 My dad and I laughing as we're trying to take a selfie...both of us are photographers, but trying to take a good cell phone selfie on this evening was not working out, but I love both of our smiles in this one. Road trips and photos are always something I associate with my dad the photographer. I can't even count how many road trips we have taken across the country, doing our "drive by shooting" (I take photos out the car window while he drives sometimes) and enjoying nature. We had such a good weekend seeing beautiful sights, basking in sunshine and capturing LOTS of photos!

McMurray Family at our favorite whale watching place in Yachats...

At Heceta Head - a glorious little bit of beach and we actually got a good walk was perfect!

My besties...We actually look like we could all be sisters that!

Sunset in Waldport OR - Magical light and energy!

This weekend was my dream summer vacation and came at just the right time! I needed the break from the usual schedule, to be outside, my toes in the sand, sea air on my skin and quality time with these amazing people who make my life so incredible every day!  I came home tired, and with a sore throat, but absolutely filled with hope, energy and permission that I can rest and slow down and give myself what I need. I found a bit of my twinkle again. :)

Thank you all for sharing this journey with me. Sometimes the simple act of writing and knowing people are following the journey, sending good vibes and healing energy to my family makes for such incredible healing energy!

Here's to dreaming up NEXT summer's family beach vacation! ;-) I'm planning ahead.


  1. love seeing this pics, Roo. Looks like a beautiful place-- makes me miss the Pacific NW! So glad you had a chance to spend time with family and with Jessica. I especially loved the pics of you and your dad, and of you three girls. Miss you and am praying for you. Big hugs!!

    1. Thanks Roo! I got another postcard in the mail today...they make me smile every time they come. THANK YOU!!! Miss you and big hugs back.

    2. Good! I'm glad they make you smile... that was my hope.

  2. This post is just teeming with life! I smiled the whole way through reading it. Thank you for sharing it, Sarah

  3. How nice that you go to travel to the beach and enjoy that quality time with your friend and family. :-)
    Beautiful pictures too... I love that landscape/sand picture, almost looks like it could be on another planet. :-)
    I've always loved the Oregon Coast as well.
    Hugs to you. You've been on a crazy rollercoaster the past 6 months, and you totally deserve moments like that. I hope there will be tons more for you, and you are so right in thinking ahead about the next trip!

  4. I've always felt this deep soul connection with the Oregon Coast. Yes, it's where I grew up, but not everyone who lives there feels how magical it is. My heart desperately wants to live near the waves again and I feel a little twinge of sadness every time I visit because I know I can't stay.
    (my husband is similar and we've also done the "are we crazy!?" one day trips) :)