When we first heard from Carol we were immediately inspired by her courage, determination and fight! This is her story….
We all have reasons for traveling, I guess at some point we get an itch. Some people plan, others are spontaneous, but what is the trigger that puts the wheels in motion? What makes us take the leap to travel and feel free from the rigours of what we call everyday life? I guess there is no finite answer, everyone is different.
My name is Carol, and my husband Adam and I and our two children, Luke (3) and Logan (6), have made a big leap to life on the road. Our story begins in October 2018, it was meant to be the year we welcomed our third child, but at the age of 36, after 2 miscarriages, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Within 2 weeks I had embarked upon 5 months of intense chemotherapy and ultimately surgery.
I lost my hair, my breasts, and all I wanted to do was heal as quickly as possible and get on with life. When Adam came out with his idea of selling up and traveling Australia, I was terrified, my kneejerk reaction was “No way”. I had just got my life back and wanted a bit of normalcy. However, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like the right path. We’d had a terrible few years and why wait until retirement to do the trip of a lifetime. At diagnosis I was hit with an uncertain future but absolutely nobody has certainty, life is fragile, and we can’t change what has passed so we felt we had to make the most of what we’ve got. I know it may sound clichéd, but I guess it’s not until you personally go through the fear and anxiety of the unknown with a diagnosis like cancer that you “check-in” on day to day life and ask yourself, what do I really want to achieve and experience. For us, our experience fighting cancer was our trigger.
So that was that, we sold our home, bought a caravan and the rest is history. The sale of our house went through quite smoothly having a buyer within a fortnight of being on the market. Besides the usual house moving rigmarole we became more excited about our adventure thinking “wow, this is really going to happen”. Whilst attending an expo in Newcastle NSW we spotted a Jayco Pop-top caravan that appeared ideal for our family, with bunks for the boys and room for our eldest and his schoolwork whilst on the road. Within a week we had purchased this new Jayco Journey Pop-Top (an Outback Model 15.48-6, with a TARE weight of approximately 1615kg and an ATM of 1900kg it suited our towing vehicle, a Toyota Hilux.) We decked out the Hilux with some aftermarket additions, upgraded suspension, dual battery setup, Waeco 65L fridge complete with drop down slide, GME Touring UHF radio, batwing awning, ARB bulbar and sidesteps along with some aluminium storage boxes on the rear of the ute to house all our gear including the fridge. We feel we have kept it simple and felt these items are necessary for us whilst touring on the open road. We have noticed some pretty impressive rigs on the road thus far and although sometimes envious (mainly of the bathroom) we love our little home! Our most luxurious item we have with us is our trusted Breville coffee machine to give ourselves a kickstart each morning. They’re also great for frothing up some hot chocolates for the kids! We have now been on the road for over a month and are currently traveling down the east coast of Tasmania.
After a month on the road we are just about getting the hang of things! We are getting used to living in close proximity and enjoying the ever changing horizons, don’t get me wrong…there is always a squabble or two. Every time we pack up camp we get a little quicker and every set up is a little easier. We have learnt to think on our feet and be flexible with our plans. Our biggest challenge so far has been setting a routine for the kids, especially with school starting in recent weeks. Rainy days are also a challenge in such a small space but colouring in and travel journaling have proved winners. The boys absolutely love their travel journals which we purchased through caravanning with kids. But most importantly the time we spend together and the experiences we are providing our children makes it so worthwhile.
Throughout my treatment and now, Ive read about many other women being diagnosed with breast cancer as early as their 20’s. I don’t have a family history of breast cancer and never expected to get it but I feel thankful every day that I was vigilant and regularly checked my breasts. I feel strongly that there should be more awareness for young breast cancer, as early detection is imperative for good outcomes. I came across the charity ‘So Brave’ halfway through treatment. They are Australia’s young breast cancer charity and all the money they raise goes towards educating young women to be #breastaware, empowering young breast cancer survivors and funding research to change future outcomes. They produce a calendar every year featuring young breast cancer survivors, like myself which I hope to feature in next year. To achieve this goal I have been given the target of raising $5000 for So Brave. I have created my blog ‘Barefoot and Breastless’ to help towards this cause but also to reach people facing a similar diagnosis and let them know they can get through it and there is life after cancer. I want young women to check themselves and be vigilant because cancer does not discriminate. But most of all I want to celebrate life. Cancer is a metamorphosis, there is no going back to who you were before. I look at old photos of me and see a kind of innocence, unsuspecting and unaware of what lay ahead. I have come out the other side with a whole new set of priorities and a whole new lease on life. Life after cancer isn’t always going to be easy but I’m going to make sure it’s about family, travel and adventure!
So if you are thinking of taking a trip, what is stopping you? If your already on the road and see our UTE, come say “Hi”!
We are very excited to welcome Carol & her family to our 2020 Ambassador Family and can’t wait to follow their adventures.
If you would like to donate to SO BRAVE – please click here.
We are also supporting Carol through our Affiliate program – simply head here to our SHOP and any sales through this link, we will donate a % to Carol & her family for SO BRAVE.