It was MRI week and for us, this was an important MRI because it was Ava’s first MRI after chemotherapy. We didn’t know what to expect or what we would be faced with, and we were scared. All I wanted to do was stay home in my bed and cry, but I made a promise to Ava while we were in the hospital that as soon as we were out and the weather was good enough we would go exploring outside with Moosie, our dog. Because the two things we missed the most in our 150+ days in the hospital was being outside and Moosie our Alaskan Malamute.
Our family loves to travel and any sort of adventure! We’ve been fortunate enough to adventure all over the world with our two girls (Tay 6 and Ava 2). In August 2015 our little Ava took us on an adventure we hope no parent has to go on with their child when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. We went from traveling all over the world and exploring new places to living at the hospital and being split apart as a family.
Words can’t even describe how we felt when our oncologist introduced himself after Ava’s first MRI. Once your child has one bad MRI, you will forever be afraid of what the next MRI will bring.
All week before Ava’s big MRI we were worried. What if cancer has come back? Can we really survive the bad news again? These are all thing that we’re going through my head leading up to her MRI. The weather in Switzerland had finally gotten warm enough for Ava to be outside so instead of crying at home I knew I needed to get out! I decided to hike to Seealpsee which is a lake in the Alps and one of my favorite hikes. I wasn’t sure how Ava was going to do in the backpack, so I wanted to go on a hike that wasn’t too long, yet took me to a beautiful place and was a bit of a challenge physically. The Trailhead is an hour drive from our house, and Ava hates riding in the car, so I had to prepare early with snacks, drinks and things for Ava to do to keep her mind off being in the car. I was tired and had not slept much but knew a day in the sun would do everyone good! We got up early and loaded the car, dropped Tay off at school and headed to the mountains. It was a perfectly clear, summer day! Like the summer days you dream of in winter. The sky was as blue as it could possibly be and the air was clear. Thankfully Ava got right into the backpack, and we were on our way. We made quite a few stops so Moosie could get a drink , cool off in the river and to take in the views.
Ava’s favorite part about hiking are all the cows on the trails. The Swiss bring their cows to the mountains for the summer to graze (lucky cows), so they are usually all over the side of the trail eating grass while their cow bells cling. I was just happy to be out, in the mountains and with Ava and Moosie. I grew up in the Wasatch Mountains so to me, going to the mountains is going home. I feel such a peace walking up a steep mountain trail or looking out at a viewpoint. There really isn’t anything much better in life. As we got to the lake I thought to myself how I could have stayed home, I could have decided not to come because of my current situation, but realized how happy I was there, listening to the cow bells and taking in the view.
Since Ava was diagnosed with cancer we have placed importance on getting out as much as we can. When going through trials or difficult times, I think there is always a tendency for people to stay home and not do the things they really love because of difficult circumstances. But I have found that every time we choose to get out and enjoy life, enjoy the time we have with each other, we have been much happier. It’s not easy getting out with Ava, as we have to be sure we are in places where she wont be exposed to crowds, sick people and a whole list of other things. But we have never regretted our decision to get out with her and try to make her life as normal as possible while instilling a sense of adventure in her. We love getting outside with our girls because they remind us with their curiosity and wonder just how amazing this earth really is.
Since that first hike out of the hospital, Ava and I have tried to go hiking every week. It’s not easy and some days I am so tired just thinking about loading the car, driving an hour and hiking a trail. But once I am in those mountains, I never regret my decision to be there. There is no place I would rather be.