A little over a year ago, I was planning to go on a work trip to Italy. This trip was to include a visit to Mt. Etna led by a local volcanologist. I was over the moon about the opportunity, and Husband was going to fly over to meet me for a week of vacation after the work trip. Groovy, right?
Well, as it happens, I was diagnosed with breast cancer just after we decided on this big event and my radiation was scheduled to wrap up just before the trip was to start. Breast radiation is far less taxing than the pelvic radiation I had in 2011, but I still didn’t think it wise to travel overseas so soon after that major assault on my body. So I cancelled the trip.
I explained this whole thing to my good friend, B, shortly after making the decision to cancel. This was the same conversation in which I dropped the bomb about my second cancer. B was appalled, as any person would be. But her frustrations went beyond the cancer, and she focused her ire, instead, on the cosmic unfairness of cancer getting in the way of Husband and me getting our long-awaited vacation.
“I wish we could just send you to Italy, anyway!”she exclaimed.
Haha! I replied. You’re very sweet, B.
“No, really!” She continued. “I bet your friends would love to do this for you.”
I thanked her for the thought, and then said something intended to drive this kind-but-crazy idea from her mind. I knew her well enough to know that she just might try something like this. But we had already received a million kindnesses when I went through treatment for ULMS, I couldn’t fathom asking friends and family to do something along these lines. It just seemed selfish.
I’m not going to surprise many of you by saying that I did not drive the crazy idea from her mind.
Rather, B applied her extraordinary powers of organization and empathy to the task of secretly raising a travel fund to send Husband and me to Italy. Along the way, another friend offered to set the fund up at a local travel agency that would hold the fund and manage the donations. For free.
And so went the latest episode in a show of friendship and love that even the most die-hard romantic would have been hard pressed to script. These people, a group I affectionately named the “Cancer YaYas” during cancer #1, gave a large amount of money to support our surprise vacation.
Today we’re leaving on that vacation. My YaYas gave us enough money to support all the lodging, our airfare (when combined with my frequent flyer miles and some pretty great bargain hunting, if I do say so myself), and there’s even enough left over for some spending cash.
We’re going to Venice, then The principality of San Marino, then a small Umbrian town called Spello.
WE ARE SO EXCITED!
Thank you, all you YaYas, for making this possible. Ray and I would never have put together such an extravagant vacation without your incredible generosity. We remain unable to capture our gratitude adequately in words, but I will try to capture some of our joys here to share with you as a small token of our affection.