My Vacation from Cancer

I just got back from vacation to New York City and Philadelphia to visit family. I prefer to pack light when I travel, so I left cancer behind.

I hardly gave cancer a thought.

I barely thought of friends dying.

And I definitely suffered amnesia when it came to an anti-cancer diet.

I’ve been advised that my body is happiest without gluten or dairy, but being on vacation, I made a choice to indulge. Just while away from home. After all, what’s a vacation if not over-indulgence?

What follows is a gastronomical diary of my adventures with gluten and cheese.White pizza with broccoli

It started when my delayed flight out of San Francisco caused a missed flight in Chicago where I had no choice but to stay overnight. I arrived at some hotel at 10:00 p.m. Chicago time, which was 8:00 to my West Coast stomach. I ordered the only take-out that was open – a pizza place, of course. I stayed within some limits and ordered a non-gluten cheese and mushroom. A size small. Thin crust. In fact, so thin, if it were any thinner, there wouldn’t have been a crust. And I ate the entire thing. I ate a whole pizza. And I stared incredulously at the empty box, in awe of my stomach’s capacity.

Understand, I’m a small woman and not a huge eater. I was so stunned, I almost documented the empty box with a photo for Facebook, but thought better than to provide evidence of my shame. In my defense, it was now 11:00.

The next morning I arrived in New York.  My daughter and I stopped at Think Coffee on Bleeker Street and split a Grilled Cheese with Olive Tapenade. Again with the double-whammy gluten and cheese combo, but just in case two wrongs can be wiped out with a right, I ordered green tea.

I can’t remember which came first – Thanksgiving dinner or Pizza No. 2. Pizza No. 2 was a traditional New York pizza with cheese and pepperoni. I never eat pepperoni, but it was ordered by another and offered to me. As I bit into its deliciousness, I wondered what I ever held against processed meat?

We had three different pies for dessert after Thanksgiving dinner. Walnut pie is something of a tradition in our family. I also really liked the chocolate-pumpkin-sour cream pie my daughter made.

On Day 6, we took a train to Philly to visit the family there. Penn Station has lots of really good junk food vendors. That’s where I ate Pizza No. 3 – a slice of white pizza with broccoli. I really like broccoli. I wasn’t trying to compensate for anything. I think this was the winner.

Back in New York and my last night before flying home, I suggested we get dessert at Max Brenner’s. That meant a Classic Chocolate Fondue for 2. No, I didn’t eat the whole thing, in case you wondered. I shared. It was for two, after all, and I wasn’t about to repeat Chicago.

After all this, I didn’t gain weight. Perhaps because New York is a walking town and I walked a lot.

I’m now home. I’m back to my salads and vegetable stews and fruit. Emotionally, I feel so much lighter. I think I was long overdue for a vacation, indulging in fun food, enjoying family, seeing old friends, playing with my daughter’s Dachshund and playing in the big city. Most of all, I really needed to get away from thoughts of cancer, death and all the bitter dishes served by life. Did I mention I feel lighter? I think it’s possible I did gain weight from all that food, but I left my heavy mental baggage behind, which compensated and evened the scales.

I should get away more often. Maybe learn to enjoy life a little more despite its harsh realities. I’ll bet I’d enjoy myself more if I thought about cancer and death less and wasn’t so hyper-vigilant. Sure, there’s balance. I still need to take care of my body and not act crazy, which means one thing for certain. I won’t be eating Pizza No. 4 any time soon.


  1. Good for you Eileen. I often think I should travel more – one of my ambitions was to get a camper van and travel around the country when I had more time on my hands. I’ve not done it yet. I’m the ultimate procrastinator. Maybe I’ll hire one this summer and see how it goes. Make time for the good stuff – new motto. 🙂 Linda

  2. Enjoyed your confession about your trip to the culinary dark side. I experience guilt whenever I somehow slip from my vegan diet. I generally bribe myself not to tell a soul.

  3. I am thrilled for you!

  4. This is a great piece, Eileen…I have been thinking about your words all day…Especially after eating Frito’s…I love the low salt ones…Well, now after your article, I’m sure that drinking green tea helps every wayward bit of food become healthier. So, i made myself 2 cups…that’s why I am awake so late! Seriously, I do the green tea thing,too! I even drink Detox Tea, sometimes.
    XO J

  5. Eileen, I love this post!! I so enjoyed reading about the food decadence you indulged in. Good for you! As a former New Yorker-now-a-Chicagoan, I love NY pizza the best; Chicago’s deep dish is the way to go.

    And I’m glad you got away from the dark thoughts. It’s nice to take a break from the hurly burly of daily life — and, of course, cancer. Sounds like a much-needed, fun-filled culinary adventure!

  6. A vacation from cancer is good for the soul. Your food diary sounds delicious and really not that unhealthy in the grand scheme of things. I am happy to have found your blog and will continue following your adventures in cancerland.

  7. Sharon, I’m happy to have found your blog too. I’m rootin’ for you. xo


  1. […] we just need a vacation from cancer – and that’s just what Eileen has […]

  2. […] Not exciting? Please don’t make me resort to cats. When it comes to writing, I draw the line at our feline friends. I don’t have one and I’m more of a dog person. This is probably a huge mistake on my part. I’m certain if I wrote about cats, I’d have 4,973 Facebook likes and more than 10,132 follows on my blog with only one unsubscribe from a token cat hater. I could live with that. Except for the fact that while I don’t hate cats, they’re not my thing so I’d be the one unsubscribing from my own blog. I sense a conflict of interest so I’ll just avoid the whole cat thing, but if it will make the multitudes happy, I’ll insert an obligatory cat photo. I chose this one because I find the pizza box alluring. Come to think of it, I wrote an entire post featuring pizza. […]

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