Lung Cancer and why a trip to Lake Tahoe happened three years later than planned.

The trip to Lake Tahoe in July, 2018 was exactly three years later than planned. In April of 2015, I secured flights and hotel reservations to Truckee, an area of California we had not seen. The area was on an extensive Places-To-Experience List which we turned to often. David struggled with recurring pneumonia, multiple lung biopsies, and heart surgery after a severe complication with a bacterial infection. When those big health challenges happen, the Travel Bucket List gets real serious real fast.

The vacation was booked for the first week of July (2015) so we could participate in Fourth of July activities. David was feeling so much better and we thought the worst was behind us because scan after scan had returned with no clear cancer diagnosis. Then we received a call on June 16, 2015 from the Surgeon that had closely monitored David’s health as part of an interdisciplinary team. The surgeon and care team had previously advised that removal of a lung lobe was premature until we had more information. The results of David’s recent CT scan suggested it was time to get that information, and another diagnostic lung surgery was scheduled…

Cancelling the trip to Tahoe was the least of our concerns as we prepared for another major surgery. The Stage IV lung cancer diagnosis was delivered while David was still in the operating room. It was July 6, 2015.

The surgeon talked with me and our daughter Nicole in one of those small rooms they use for these conversations. We got our son Tony on the phone too. “We did find lung cancer; and it has metastasized. It is inoperable and we need to wait for the pathology report to determine the best therapy.” We were in shock; responding with disbelief and anger. I kept asking “How can this possibly be? He has STAGE IV lung cancer?  What the hell happened?!!”

We are grateful that David is doing remarkably well three years later and although he is no longer working, he is living and feeling better than expected. He is fighting his way through changes in therapies and the nasty side effects of chemotherapy.

We keep moving forward with travel as he can tolerate. One of the biggest adventures has been David’s road trip from Minnesota to the west coast and back home. He visited friends and family, he loved it! I met up with him for the part we intended to do back in 2015. It was magical, starting with a few days in Tahoe then driving up the Pacific Coast.

Is it in California or Nevada?

It’s both. And I admit the location of the lake confused me until I saw this map on the Lake Tahoe Visitor Bureau website.

Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau Map.jpg

The lake is surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and anchored by South Tahoe and North Tahoe.

The Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe has an expected mountain lodge esthetic - I’d call it casual and a little over-rated compared to some of their other resort properties. The features that make it unique are gas fireplaces and ceiling-to-floor windows in every room making them feel extra cozy. Since David had been driving for weeks he needed to recharge, and after staying in hotels with really bad mattresses on his route he was elated for a couple naps and nights of great sleep. Outside is where I spent most of my time.


The Mountaintop Views

The views are worth the drive to get there, they were worth the three year wait to get there. Walking is my thing and I’m content to walk for miles and miles solo, especially when this is all around.

King’s Beach

Truckee is on the north side of the lake and a pretty 30 minute drive to King’s Beach. It would be easy to spend a week exploring the lake perimeter. We landed in King’s Beach when David surprised me with an evening on a catamaran to watch fireworks. So a few year later than planned, I watched the water bounce light, then the sun drop into the tree tops and the sky light up with fireworks. Some tears of joy happened.

David Eric Oliver, Lake Tahoe (July 5, 2018)

David Eric Oliver, Lake Tahoe (July 5, 2018)