A woman pushing a broken down car

Resilience from Living with Lung Cancer

Ever since I was diagnosed so unexpectedly with lung cancer, I’ve found that not much shocks me or truly surprises me anymore. I think once I heard the words “you have stage IV lung cancer,” I lost the ability to panic over any other crisis that occurs.

A family car crisis

Recently, my husband, younger son, and I set off on a drive from our home in the Chicago area to Ann Arbor, Michigan to move my son into his freshman year college dorm. We were on the highway about 45 minutes from our destination when our car started making strange noises and decelerating rapidly. Luckily, we were close to an exit and managed to get off the road and into the parking lot of a gas station before the car completely stopped moving.

It was actually quite a crisis. We had a move-in time slot coming up at the dorm, an SUV packed to the brim with my son’s belongings and a car that was totally dead. We were in one of those gas stations that are completely isolated at the end of an exit, surrounded by empty fields. It was so unbelievable that it was almost funny! My car, a Honda CRV, had always been completely reliable, regularly serviced and wasn’t even five years old.

Working as a family and team

So what did we do? Instead of panicking, I started giving out instructions. I assigned myself the job of finding a tow truck, told my husband to locate the closest Honda dealer, and had my son begin calling around to find a rental SUV or minivan. I figured between all of these options, we would determine a way to get out of the gas station and to my son’s dorm!

We ended up finding a local tow company to tow our car to a Honda dealer not too far away. I informed the tow truck driver on the phone that all three of us would need to fit in the tow truck with him, which luckily he was willing to accommodate. Let’s just say that some safety rules were definitely broken in order for this to happen! Since the local Honda dealer didn’t have a loaner car for us, we found a car rental company to deliver a minivan to us at the dealer. I learned that there is a nationwide shortage of rental cars right now — who knew?! I’m not even 100% sure that the minivan was a real rental car since it arrived with beer cans in the passenger seat!

We left our Honda at the dealer, continued our drive to Ann Arbor, and moved our son into his dorm! Phew — mission accomplished! We only lost about one and a half hours (and lots of money) to managing the crisis. After almost eight years of cancer scans and treatment with accompanying constant uncertainty, I think my whole family, in addition to myself, has developed greater resilience in dealing with unexpected problems that need solving.

We're stronger together

I am now back home writing this article — my husband and I ended up flying back to Chicago from Detroit because the small town Honda dealer is estimating a MONTH to replace our transmission. We’re renting another minivan to take my older son to his college, leaving tomorrow. I’m confident that we will be able to handle any unforeseen events that might occur along this journey, but very much hoping for a smooth ride this time!

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