In the past five weeks, I have slept in 11 different beds. This is a remarkable fact that perhaps makes me sound like an employee of Madam Heidi Fleiss but is much more innocent than that. I traveled to Minnesota, Dallas, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Paris and back to Minnesota with stops in Philadelphia along the way.

I've been living out of a suitcase since Thanksgiving.

I'm tired.

However, I'm grateful.

When I began this year 2009, I was in Beirut, Lebanon. While there, I realized something was wrong with my health. A week later, I stopped in Paris to see friends and shop the soldes. I found a lump in my breast. A few days after that, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

So, you see, this year was "supposed" to have been one where I was sick. Instead, it was something more than that.

It was a year where I traveled more than 60,000 miles. I celebrated New Year's Eve in Beirut and Valentine's Day in Paris. I spent a weekend in Washington D.C. Work took me to Orlando. Weeks later, my mom and I were in Sydney, Australia. In late July, I joined my family in Serbia for my cousin's wedding. I celebrated my birthday in Paris. I flew to Minnesota for my cousin's second wedding, the "U.S." version. I traveled again for work. In November, I spent Thanksgiving with my family in St. Paul, and started the rest of my five weeks of travel-San Francisco, Las Vegas, Paris again, and Christmas in Minnesota.

When I got diagnosed with cancer I wanted to make sure I had memories in 2009 that were beyond breast cancer. I didn't want to look back and only remember the fear of the unknown, the pain, the surgery, and the endless rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. I knew I wanted the year to be more than that. It was. I flew 60,000 miles.

Interspersed between my travels were caretaking visits, overnights, coffees, check-ins, knitted scarves and love from my family and friends.

If I added the miles of those who visited me or journeyed with me, we would be halfway to the moon.

And that's just how I want the year to be remembered.

Erika Hovland is a Marketing Product Director for a pharmaceutical company. She grew up in St. Paul and now lives in Philadelphia. This essay was originally published on her blog, www.exploringintherain.com


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