Going on Vacation During Breast Cancer Treatment

I decided to leave town since I had two weeks off before radiation begins.  It took courage on my part since I am only 14 days out from last Chemo and still feeling quite weak, but decided I desperately needed a change of scenery.  So I loaded up my suitcase with foobs, boobs, and tubes and headed to the airport.  Before I left, I prayed that God would send His angels to guide and protect me.

First dilemma was getting through security because I have a metal port imbedded in my body.  Plus, I wear a wig because I am bald with what looks like duck fuzz on my head.  And a fake boob.  All those things frightened me about security because 9 times out of 10, I am the one that gets padded down.  Padded down was the last thing I wanted now!    I had a nightmare the night before travel that my foob was lying on the floor as it was cut open with a razor blade, my wig was ripped off my head, and security was cutting my port out of my body.  Thankfully, none of those things happened because God started sending Angels immediately..

There were probably 40 security people on duty at the airport when I arrived in the security area.  I walked up to one security guard and relayed my fears especially about my port.  She smiled and said, “I had one of those for 18 months!  Happiest day of my life when I got it out.  I am a cancer survivor of two years.  I will help and assist you today as I know how frightening all of this air travel security and cancer can be.”   And she did. My First Angel personally helped me, carried my things, and escorted me to the front of the line to a “special agent” guard.  I was through security in a New York minute with ports, boobs and wigs still in place!!

After I get through security, I had to wrap my arm to prevent lymphedema swelling because of the 14 lymph nodes I had removed.  This is necessary when I fly because of cabin pressure changes.  I have been seeing a Lymphedema Specialist, and she taught me how to wrap my arm.  Picture a mummy’s arm, and that’s what I had to do to myself while seated in the boarding area.  I got a lot of strange looks.  I could read some people’s thoughts which were:  “Is this some kind of new terrorist scheme?”  Several people kept an eye on me once I got on the airplane.

As I boarded the plane and sat down, the woman next to me said, “I am a nurse.”  I wasn’t sure why she said that to me other than I figured she was my Second Angel, and I was carrying around a big mummy arm.   Her husband, Third Angel,  was sitting next to her. As the flight progressed, she asked me about my arm and if it was wrapped because of Lymphedema.  She and her husband then told me that he was a breast cancer survivor of 30 years!   He had a Mastectomy and 40 lymph nodes removed and for years had to wrap his arm while flying.  He offered me some sage advice about Breast Cancer and surviving from a man’s perspective.  It was such a special experience.

So last stop, pick up rental car.  The rental agent asked me about my arm, and if it was wrapped due to Lymphedema. Geez, I thought, does everyone in the world know about Lympedema?  I had to look it up in the dictionary when I first heard about it!  She then relayed that she was a retired Oncology Nurse, now supplementing her retirement with Avis.  She asked me what she could do to make my trip easier and asked me what kind of car I drive at home.  When I told her, she gave me the same car I own so I didn’t have the stress of learning the ins and outs of a different car.   It was an upgrade and my Fourth Angel didn’t charge me.  She also offered me some good post Chemotherapy advice!

As I reflected upon my day, travel angels were with me every step of my journey.  I am so grateful as I needed all of their help, support, and encouragement!

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3 comments

  1. Wow Denise, that’s impressive! My powerchair ends up in 5 pieces at the airport – I don’t fly anymore! Your humor cracks me up!

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