Weekly Photo Challenge: Room



This room represents so many things to me in a strange way. It was taken in March of 2013 in the Rotunda at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. I was having a grand time exploring the campus and the city during a brief business trip. Just a short week later, my life would change forever.

In the Winter of 2013, I had just taken a new part time job teaching laboratory procedures to nurses. The job would allow me to travel across the country and visit large medical centers. Free airfare, free meals, and great pay. It seemed like an exciting new adventure. This particular trip was only my second, the first being to Nashville, Tennessee. When I arrived at the hotel, I was pleasantly surprised to find my room overlooking a lovely pond inhabited by a pair of swans. A paved jogging trail meandered around the water and adjacent university buildings.

I only taught for a few hours during the day, so I either had mornings or afternoons to myself. The city of Charlottesville reminded me a lot of Asheville in some ways, yet it was steeped in a rich history that was palpable walking down the cobblestone streets where Thomas Jefferson and his contemporaries once stood. I thoroughly enjoyed the small shops and quaint hole-in-the wall restaurants nestled among venerable brick buildings and proud monuments. It was so nice to get away from everyday responsibilities, if only for a brief moment

Before the sun went down each day, I would try to get in a run. The path was very steep in spots, and I noticed that my endurance was flagging as I struggled to reach 3 miles. I chalked it up to needing more hill work, but in the back of my mind, it bothered me. After all, I had finished a half marathon only 4 months before with little trouble. Shouldn’t my endurance be improving?

After 3 wonderful days, I left for home feeling accomplished and rested. I had navigated a huge, unfamiliar medical center and done a really good job teaching. I had enjoyed the city so much that I planned to come back with my family and spend more time, including a visit to Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.

As it turned out, that would be my second and last trip. A week later I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and had to give up that job to go through treatment. It’s bittersweet when I look at the pictures now. I remember exactly what I was doing, what I was thinking. I remember how excited I was to embark on a new adventure once I finally made the difficult decision that I needed some time for me and that my kids would live if I left them with their father once per month. It wasn’t to be.

Funny, but situations like this always remind me of a quote from one of my favorite movies of all time, Out of Africa. There is a particularly pulse-pounding scene where Meryl Streep is nearly attacked by a lion while crossing the savannah with wagons and oxen looking for her philandering husband, who has been away for weeks on safari. Her servant Farah turns to her and says, “God is happy m’sabu…he plays with us.”



15 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

  1. I’ve been there too, but for my first college visit. For me, it represents the schools I could have attended but couldn’t afford. In retrospect, I doubt it would have been worth the out-of-state tuition compared to where I ended up.

  2. I can imagine how disappointing it would have been to give up such an interesting job so soon. I also think about the weeks leading up to my diagnosis at the end of March 2013. In early March I did a work trip to Taiwan that was very full on, but I could not understand why I was so incredibly tired. It all made sense after the diagnosis. Life can change so quickly.

      • I did apply and made it to final interview stage for a new position in cellular therapies but didn’t get the job…but I wasn’t sure about it anyway in terms of what I’m really looking for. I’m still trying to find what I’m meant to do next….but more and more I am drawn to whole health medicine / holistic approach but founded firmly in evidence based science. I’m reading a fantastic book at the moment called “Beat cancer” by Prof Mustafa Diamgoz and Prof Jane Plant ..I know it would be right down your alley also. Along with the writings of Lissa Rankin and Rachel Naomi Remen, and my own research interest in telomere biology and cellular / stem cell therapies (and personal history of course) I can feel myself being pulled somewhere …. just have no idea where!!

      • You know I can sympathize about being pulled in an unknown direction. I have to say, if I got nothing else from chiropractic school, it totally shifted my paradigm of what good medicine and health should be. Holistic health is fascinating, and I definitely feel that this is where we should be looking. I’ll definitely check out the book:)

  3. It’s like insult to injury to have had to give up such an exciting adventure because of breast cancer. As if the breast cancer wasn’t enough. 😦 Beautiful photo, though. We were on vacation in Charlottesville a few years ago. Monticello is now one of my favorite places. I loved it there!
    By the way, we are headed to NC (Charlotte) the first week of August. How close are you to Charlotte?

    • I’ll let you know. I think it’s one of those SAT type tests with multiple parts. You know, the one that gives directions like “Choose the best answer(s) to the question. More than one answer may apply.” I hate those!:)

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