often reveals a side of your friends that are surprising. And
sometimes that surprise is not a good one. I have learned to choose
my travel companions wisely.
got it all!” said my surgeon, after paging through what ended
up being 6 pages of a pathology report. After finding a lump in my
breast, my “dream team” of doctors found that the
was, indeed, breast cancer. And even though they had gotten it all in
a mastectomy, they recommended that I have both chemotherapy and
radiation as a preventive measure, given my relatively young age.
those post-surgery treatments, I let my close friends know, and
almost all were supportive. Some openly said that they
sure what to say, and I reassured them that the last thing I wanted
to talk about was the treatment – I wanted to talk about
anything other than the treatment. The entire time, I was focused on
life beyond the treatment. My best friend brought over a bottle of
wine at the end of the week of each chemo treatment, and we counted
down – 20% done, 50% done, 80% done. We did the same for the
radiation treatments, although the calculation was not as
straightforward, at one point, I was 87.5% done!
the treatments, I opted to also remove the other breast on my own
personal theory (I call it “mental peace”) of
breast tissue, no breast cancer,” and also opted for
reconstructive surgery. And I decided that I needed something to look
forward to after all these surgeries. A celebration!
formed my plan about halfway through chemo: I wanted to go to Hawaii,
and have a toast of champagne by the pool or on the beach after all
procedures were over, to celebrate being alive.
shared this plan with several friends. One of my friends from
college, I’ll call him Ned, wanted to come with me. While
surprised me, I agreed. We had traveled together in the past, and
during those trips, if we had different ideas of activities and
interests, we’d split up and then get back together late in
that’s when the debates began.
on the West Coast, I had been to Hawaii a few times. My favorite
island is Maui, since it has the combination of remote areas for
those who want private time, as well as towns where it is easy to
meet other travelers for a community experience.
it was, in theory, my celebration, Ned did not want to go to Maui.
Compromise number 1: we then jointly settled on one week over the New
Year, starting out in Waikiki on Oahu, then moving on to the Big
became painfully obvious that we had different ideas of what we
wanted to do while in Hawaii.
I do enjoy the ocean, I wanted to stay near the surface of the water
on this trip. My plastic surgeon assured me that swimming was ok, but
I did not yet feel comfortable with snorkeling or scuba diving after
my surgeries. Sometimes it takes the mind a little longer than the
body to catch up. I encouraged Ned to take those trips, while I
wandered around the beaches and shops of Waikiki. As in prior trips,
our arrangement went well, we split up during the days, and
reconnected for dinner.
were a bit overscheduled in Waikiki, so other than my first day of my
shopping excursion, we had no time to have that toast – the
toast that was the entire reason for my wanting a trip to Hawaii.
That was compromise number 2.
the New Year’s show at the hotel, we were scheduled to check
out to move on to the Big Island the next morning.
when the trouble started.
hotel check-out took over an hour. Apparently Ned had taken some of
his own toiletries to the hotel, including tissues and TP, which are
normally provided by the hotel. The housekeeping services had no idea
that these were items that he had brought, so when they were almost
used up, housekeeping replaced these toiletries with the ones
provided by the hotel. Ned made enough of an issue of it that he
received a discount on his room.
barely made our flight, but arrived safely on the Big Island.
initial destination was Hilo, since there was a chance of seeing
volcanic action. Compromise number 3: I had no interest in seeing
volcanic action, yet that was on Ned’s agenda. And
the evening prior to our arrival, there were very large bubbles of
red-hot lava that extended the lava flow area for many feet. The day
we arrived, there was drizzle, and about 50 tourists spent over three
hours, watching one tiny bubble take form. I can’t express
bored I was, the 1-2 inch bubble of a lava movement was not enough to
keep my interest.
those two days on the rainy side of the island, we drove to the Kona
item on my list was to take a tour of the coffee plantations. Looking
at the guidebooks, we knew that the tours stopped at 4 pm. Ned wanted
to stop to check into the hotel, since it was on the way. Close to an
hour into the check-in process, Ned was still grilling the hotel
registration clerk: is it noisier to be on a lower floor and away
from the elevator, or on a higher floor yet closer to the elevator.
When I heard the discussion of “what do you consider to be
quiet,” I had to walk away. Unfortunately – at
me – while we still attempted to make the coffee plantation
tour, obviously we did not make it on time.
evening began the discussion of what we would plan for the next day
on the Kona coast. I still wanted to participate in the coffee
plantation tour. Ned, on the other hand, wanted to “swim with
the dolphins” at a nearby hotel.
suggested that we do what we had done in the past, many times
he swims with the dolphins, and I go on the Kona coffee tour. Since
Ned does not drink coffee (at least not the caffeinated kind), it
seemed like a good proposal.
is where it got ugly.
had decided that, for $250, he would swim with the dolphins, but he
did not want to pay for the professional photographers that would
take pictures of the experience. I tried to explain to him that we
were on our last day in Hawaii, and that I had still not had the
“celebrate life” toast. I wanted to abstain from
dolphin episode to have my long-awaited toast and time in the sun.
His response? “There’s sun at the hotel outside the
while you take photos of me.”
a long-time friend, I was hoping for Ned’s understanding.
did not happen.
drove him to the dolphin “experience.” He expected
get out of the car to take photos of him. I declined, to his shock,
and went back to the hotel, and spent 30 minutes at the pool. It was
a bit too early for a toast. Compromise number 4: I did not spend the
relaxing time at the pool, and after those thirty minutes, I felt
guilty and dragged his heavy backpack with the camera to the dolphin
pool. Even though at that point after my surgeries, I was expected to
take it easy on carrying heavy items for a while longer. And as
expected, I was not allowed anywhere near the dolphin experience.
Then I waited for another hour, because at this point, Ned had
purchased the professional photos.
this does not seem like a celebration for me.
finally did surface, and when we were back in the car, his first
criticism was that I cost him $125 for the professional photos. In my
opinion, if you can spend $250 on the “dolphin
you can spend $125 on the photos, and I told him that.
offered to drop him off at the hotel, because I still wanted to go
back for the coffee tasting and tour. Ned questioned why I wanted to
do this; I mentioned that we had spent the last two days doing what
he had wanted. He had the audacity to say, “that was on the
OTHER side of the island.” What??
insisted that he was coming with me to the coffee planation, but from
that point onward, he gave me the silent treatment. We literally did
would have been happier to take that tour alone.
the tour, where Ned feigned interest in coffee – again, he
not drink it – we were back at the hotel.
was my last opportunity to have that toast. Unfortunately, the sky
was cloudy and looking like rain, but I didn’t care. I was on
the Big Island, and went to the pool. After the silent treatment, I
was surprised that Ned wanted to join me at the pool.
I called my mother on my cell phone once the champagne arrived. And
she and I toasted via the phone – TO LIFE! This is what I had
wanted to do every day that I was in Hawaii. Compromise number 5: I
should have done this every day, regardless of anyone else’s
here was Ned sitting next to me, and didn’t even comment on
celebration – again, the reason that I chose Hawaii. No
congratulations, no “I’m glad you’re
nothing. He only noticed while checking his iPhone, that there was a
winter storm brewing on the East Coast. He completely ignored the
“toast to life.” He asked what would happen if he
a plane and the destination had snow. My response? “They land
the plane in the snow.” He was debating flying out that
evening. I had no intention of driving him to the airport.
the way back from the pool he wanted to have dinner together. He was
completely silent while we ordered and ate our food. After we
finished the meal, we both went back to our respective rooms. I went
back downstairs, and had a lovely evening with a group of newly found
I am thankful that complete strangers could celebrate with me!
line of the message.)