There are many ways to categorize people, and there are many ways to categorize people with cancer. For the purposes of this posting, we will address people with cancer and divide us in two groups: those who prefer not to talk about it and whisper when they utter the word “cancer,” and those who will look anyone in the eye and say, “I have cancer, hear me roar.” (Or, something like that.)
Guess into which group I fall.
As my family and I prepared for our long-haul flight in advance of Thanksgivukah, I made the decision to take full advantage of my medical situation and ensure (1) I would be able to pre-board and (2) I would receive wheelchair assistance between the gate and the curb.
And, so I did. When it came time for pre-boarding, I marched right up to the gate agent and announced that I would require some extra time for boarding. Once we settled in on-board, I approached one of the flight attendants and politely asked for one of the bottles of water.
“I’m sorry, that’s against our policy,” she said.
From behind my mask, I smiled. “OK, here’s the deal. I’m on chemotherapy and in about 90 minutes I’ll be taking my next dose. I require lots of water – probably in the neighborhood of 20 ounces or so. Then, you see, the chemo causes quite the bout of diarrhea and predisposes me to dehydration, so I’ll be needing lots and lots of water.”
“Not a problem; I’ll be happy to bring you as much water as you need.”
“So, how about just giving me a bottle and letting me drink as I need it?”
“I’m sorry, that’s against our policy.”
So, 90 minutes into the flight, they started the first beverage service. My wife got the attention of our flight attendant and reminded her that we’d be needing a lot of water. I wish I had a picture of the rows of tiny little plastic cups all lined on on our tray tables. It was quite the sight. I do have to add that the cabin crew did their part to keep me hydrated.
As it turns out, the last hour or so of our flight was one of bumpiest descents I’ve ever been on. Being on nausea-inducing medication didn’t help the situation. I’m happy to report, that which was inside of me stayed there however, upon landing, I did avail myself of some anti-nausea medication. What with the pounding headache and all, I was glad I arranged the wheelchair as I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to make the long trek through passport control, to baggage claim, and so on.
But here’s the good part, some fellow passenger mistakenly took my son’s duffel and he was left without some much-needed clothing. Good thing I had a place to sit as everything was sorted out. (Additional clothing was bought, courtesy of the airline, and bags were returned the following day.)
On Friday we drove up to Buffalo for the annual family Thanksgiving in-gathering, an event we hadn’t been to in quite a few years. With 20-something people all staying in the house for the weekend, my aunt put on quite the show. (Let there be no doubt, food most definitely equals love.) The kids, I’m happy to say, were all spoiled and thoroughly enjoyed quite the snowball fight.
The rest of the week included lots of running around, shopping, eating and Rock of Ages, the loosely plotted Broadway show featuring 1980s rock which my 17- and 15-year-olds thoroughly enjoyed. A word to those of you considering the show: it’s a lot of fun, but not really appropriate to go see with your kids. Thankfully, it wasn’t I who purchased the tickets. It was my in-laws. And, as my wife said to me: “You think you’re uncomfortable watching with your kids? I’m sitting next to my parents!”
No harm and only a little bit foul. A good time was had by all.
And now we’re settling back in to our routine, or some semblance thereof. I’ve completed the first of three rounds of chemotherapy and will be finishing up the rest by mid-January, at which point I’ll have some more tests done to see if what we’re doing now is working as well as last time. So, stay tuned. I’m sure there will be more adventures in air travel to report, along with plenty more opportunity to leverage every advantage cancer has to offer.