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A Transformational Travel Story

By Sarah Carty.

Being diagnosed with Stage IV Ovarian cancer at twenty-four constantly reminded me of everything I could never do again. The focus was always on caution. A simple thing like stepping into a crowded room was not without its dangers. My body did not want to cooperate but my mind still sought adventure. As time went by and my chemotherapy treatments became less severe, my lust for life only became stronger. My biggest problem; my self-belief. For too long my focus was on the negative. What I couldn’t do, where I couldn’t go. I needed a catalyst, something to drive my determination forward. This came in the form of coaching. With the help of my coach, I learned what my values and beliefs were. It was something I had never truly thought about but once I did, it was impossible not to live each day by these virtues. My biggest hunger; my lust for adventure, travel and human connection. I had spent too long cooped up within four walls surrounded by beeping machines, canula’s and restrictions that I desired open landscapes, nature, human connection and solitude all at once. I had been on the brink of death and now my desire for life was palpable.

With the help of my coach I discovered what it was, I wanted to gain from my adventure. I wanted to face my fears. I yearned for a challenge; to test myself. I faced death, now it was time to break past boundaries in my mind. I booked a four-week solo trip along the west coast of America. A whole continent away from safety. I hopped from hostel to hostel, meeting strangers from every corner of the world. From Guatemala, Italy, as far as Tazmania. Strangers soon became friends. I tested my social skills and soon learnt that I found exhilaration in making connections with people.

I hiked in Runyon Canyon in L.A, cycled over the Golden Gate bridge, rented a car in San Francisco and drove over the Bay Bridge into the wilderness of Yosemite National Park. I hiked above waterfalls. I sang along to the radio at the top of my voice as I drove through lonely country American roads, and shared my lunch with begging squirrels by quiet lakesides. I soaked my tender muscles in a hot tub while peering out at a vast forest landscape. I learnt how to Kayak and tested my bravery on gushing rapids. Every time I flipped over in the water, completely upside down until an instructor came to my help, I grew in confidence. What I had feared in the beginning, I began to enjoy. The plunge into the cold water became invigorating.

Returning home I had a new sense of confidence about myself. I had travelled alone in a different continent, unbound from the confines that had previously entrapped me. With the help of my coach I allowed myself to feel a sense of pride in my accomplishments. I took a step back and took a moment to digest how far I had come on my journey. I achieved things I thought I would never get the chance to again.

I feel as though there is nothing I cannot accomplish once I put my mind to it.