12/12/2013 08:58 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

At the Top of My Lungs: Have Cancer, Will Travel


Machu Picchu with friend, 1995

"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move." -- Robert Louis Stevenson

I remember the first time I sat next to a goat.

Backpacking across Indonesia in 1990, I was relegated by my tight budget to slow buses, crowded with creatures cloven and clawed. I didn't have the option of choosing my seat, let alone my seatmate, and on one such trip the only space left was at the back of the bus, next to a goat. Whenever I think of these journeys I hear the squawk of chickens, ubiquitous on every form of transport. If there is a live chicken in your vehicle then you are traveling chicken class.

I was an intrepid traveler. Restless in spirit, rarely at rest, I was happy being a body in motion. From urban to rural, first class to third world, well-heeled to shoestring, I found peace with the wind in my face.

But with cancer came apprehension. Over the summer, Harlan and I made plans to spend a few weeks in Spain -- our belated honeymoon. For the first time, I felt trepidation about travel. What if something calamitous happened? What if cancer raged through me and laid me low, far from home? What if?

We agreed that we would take it day by day, with flexibility to slow down and rest when we needed to rest. And no chicken class this time. We booked lovely hotels and cashed in airline points to fly in style. Confirming our flight departure details, I encountered the best use of the word "terminal" I'd heard this year.

In preparing for this trip, I considered the adventures and misadventures I've had on my travels through the years -- sleeping in a corn crib in northern Thailand; being chased by wild dogs in Bolivia; eating dried bug snacks in Zimbabwe; even getting stuck in quicksand in the Galapagos Islands. Surely I could manage three weeks in Europe.

A few times my anxiety got the better of me and I thought we should cancel. But Harlan and I needed and wanted this trip, this time together. I remembered why I went traveling in the first place. To see new things, of course, but also to see what I was made of. To go out into the world and discover what it brings out in me. So I may move a little more slowly, perhaps with a bit more caution, but off we go. I will not let cancer get my goat.

This column originally appeared on For more by Jennifer Glass, click here. "Like" Jennifer's Facebook page here. See her Fear.Less. video here.