Stats Don't Tell The Whole Story

Editor's Note: Donna recalls booking and preparing for her trip to Israel while also managing stage IV lung cancer.

It's getting real! Several months ago, I stepped out in faith and signed up to satisfy something that has been on my bucket list for a long time. I'm going to Israel! I've never been a person who has wanted to do a lot of overseas traveling, but I have always, always, always wanted to go to the land where my Saviour walked.

To purchase traveler's insurance or not?

Having stage IV lung cancer, I signed up for trip insurance. I am not sure I haven't always believed, somewhere inside of me, that I would end up using the insurance and not actually taking the trip.

However, unless something unforeseen happens within the next 48 hours, I will be boarding the plane to JFK airport, the first leg of a very long journey. I'm nervous and excited about making my very first overseas trip.

Packed and ready to go

There is so much to do to prepare for a big trip when you've never been overseas before. The first challenge was to get a passport. I have tried to think of everything else I might need: I have lots of batteries for my camera, SD cards for the camera, phone chargers, adapters, compression socks to wear on the long flights, comfy shoes ... the list goes on and on!

I am already packed to go. Usually, I just hours before I leave on a trip. However, I have an immunotherapy treatment today so this day is pretty much shot. Tomorrow, I have other last minute details that I need to accomplish.

Receiving treatment before departure

Today, I also learn the results of my latest CT scan. I'm not one who usually suffers much from scanxiety, but let me tell you, preparing for what is the trip of a lifetime for me surely takes a person's mind completely off of any worries about what the scan might show.

I wish I wasn't having my treatment so close to when I leave, but it is the nature of the beast. Fortunately, I generally suffer few side effects from the Opdivo. The worst is usually fatigue. The good news is that our flight leaves NYC at 10:35 PM, so maybe I'll be able to sleep/rest on the trip across the ocean.

Defying statistics

The real reason for this article is not just to tell you about my trip to Israel. Most people probably don't find that very newsworthy. My motivation is to spread hope and inspiration to those who are reading.

You see, my traveling partner is a friend I first met at a LUNGevity HOPE Summit several years ago. She too has stage IV lung cancer. Neither of us is fortunate enough to be enjoying NED (no evidence of disease) status, but we are both lucky that our tumors are stable.

If anyone had told me six years ago when I was diagnosed with lung cancer that I would be traveling to Israel and that my travel mate would also have late-stage lung cancer, I would have thought they had gone crazy. After all, we're taught to brace for death, not to prepare for overseas travel when we get such a dire diagnosis.

Just because statistics say it can't be done doesn't mean it can't.

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