With new terrain comes new discovery. Traveling around the world and exploring new lands unearths a new perspective on life and presents how the same 24 hours can be spent completely different. Chandra Hampton was looking forward to that change; she needed rest from being on top of her game in corporate America while simultaneously running her own fitness business on the side. She planned for a trip to Italy using the Dipaways boutique travel brand, Hampton plotted her next journey to restoration. But life has a way of creating unexpected excursions that one cannot plan for. Three weeks prior to the trip, Chandra was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
The shock to Chandra had the impact of a full on collision. With her mind searching for answers, what was once a path to rejuvenation now became a fork in the road. A question of continuing on with the trip to Italy added a new heaviness that laid on Chandra’s heart. With deep consideration and support from her loved ones, she continued her journey overseas. With defining thoughts of mortality adding a thicker layer of self discovery, Hampton indulged the wonder of a new terrain not only physically but internally as well. Chandra opened up to us about this surreal moment, giving us a glimpse of the mental and emotional battle she faced during that time. Her decision to continue to travel to a foreign land, while facing an unexpected chapter in her life was not easy, but for Chandra it was absolutely necessary. 24 hours never looked the same after that moment.
How did you push through the initial thoughts of shock and land on the decision to continue with your trip to Italy?
The initial shock was so surreal; I cried a lot. But, I also knew that my diagnosis was not a death sentence. So, I pulled myself together and asked my doctor, "how do we do this?" She told me that the treatment was a process that would take several months. I knew then that my life was about to change and that this trip would be my only opportunity for a while to get away before my fight began.
How has your perspective on life change and what have you put more attention towards now that you are on a new journey of healing?
I've always been about living my best life, so I can't say that I had to do a 180 degree turn on my life perspective. But, I will say that I had to learn how to let others help me. I have been fiercely independent since I was a child, and have been most comfortable doing for others as opposed to them doing for me. Now, I have moments where I physically cannot do it for myself and I need people to come to my aid. Chemotherapy has me so weak sometimes, that my friends and family have to come over and help with cooking, cleaning and running errands. That has been so uncomfortable for me. But, they remind me that I have given a lot to them and they are happy to help; which has allowed me to become better at receiving.
Why do you think it was significant for you to continue on with the trip to italy?
It helped me to maintain my sanity, to be honest. When you get news like this, you can spiral into a depression pretty easy. You have all of these "what-if" thoughts swirling non-stop in your head. Going on the trip took me out of my head and put me back into life. It was a welcomed distraction to spend time doing what I truly enjoy...traveling and experiencing other cultures.
Was there any moment in the excursion that felt like a reassuring moment that you made the right decision to go, did you have any outer body experiences while you were on the trip?
I knew right away that I made the right decision upon arriving and meeting up with the group. Almost instantly, I stopped thinking about my illness when I saw the beautiful landscape of Italy. Then, I met the group, who were all so cool that I couldn't wait to get to know everyone a little better. We all were introducing ourselves to one another and I was able to talk about who I am and what I do without mentioning my breast cancer diagnosis. It was important to me to have a good time and not feel pitied or limited during my trip. I had a moment on the yacht heading to Positano, while dancing and sipping on prosecco. I looked around at everyone having a good time (including myself) and as I briefly thought about what was happening inside of my body, I told myself that at this moment....it didn't matter. Then, I gave myself permission to continue enjoying myself.
What did the trip to Italy mean to you before the news of breast cancer, and how did it change after?
Before the diagnosis, my trip to Italy was the usual opportunity for a getaway and cultural excursion. Afterwards, it became an opportunity to prepare my mind and heart while doing something I love before facing the most challenging experience of my life.
What is it that keeps giving you strength, motivation, and positivity?
Where do you think that strength came from? One of my favorite sayings is, "How you do one thing, is how you do everything ". It resonates with me because I've always had a strong and positive mindset. I've overcome many life challenges before. So I would treat fighting breast cancer like I treated every other obstacle in my life; walking strong in my faith and my will to succeed. I don't know any other way to be.
How did you feel the day after your trip, when you had to go back to living your daily routine?
I was mostly anxious because I was about to begin the fight almost immediately upon return. Before heading out on my trip, my doctors and I laid out my entire treatment plan so that I could hit the ground running when I returned. Three days after I arrived home I had my mediport inserted into my chest and three days after that, I had my first round of chemotherapy. It was go-time!
What are some affirmations that keep you grounded?
When I was first diagnosed I cared about losing my hair and losing my breasts. Then reality hit that those things pale in comparison to what's most important....I get to live. That's what I focus on.
Chandra Hampton is a true fighter, who brings light with her wherever she goes. We know she will win this battle. If you or anyone you know is going through a breast cancer battle, please share Chandra’s story with them. We hope that Chandra’s story not only spreads inspiration, but also lets victims of cancer know they are not alone.
To continue following Chandra’s journey, you can follow her @Champlifestyle