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Old 02-16-2010, 09:29 PM   #1
weHEARTmickey
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Smile Bucket List for Mom w/Stage 4 Cancer-UPDATE #267

My mom has stage 4 breast cancer. It has almost completely eaten up her liver, and is in her bones & lymph nodes. Her oncologist told her to start living out her "bucket list." Mom's dream has always been to go whale watching, so we are planning a trip for this summer. We are all trying to figure out the best (yet most affordable) place for at least 7 adults, 2 kids, & 1 baby to see the whales.

All the info is pretty overwhelming! I would love to hear any advice you have on Monterey, CA or an Alaskan cruise. We really need to try to keep costs around $500 per person--and even that is stretching it for some in the family.

If we go to CA, we will probably just drive from TX. If we go to Alaska, we will fly to Seattle, WA. Someone has offered 2 free Southwest airline tickets, so this will help with travel expenses. Also, my dad has offered to trade in a timeshare week to help with costs.

Thanks for all of your help
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Last edited by weHEARTmickey; 07-30-2011 at 07:29 PM. Reason: Update in Post #267
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Old 02-16-2010, 09:38 PM   #2
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to you, your mom, and your family.

I don't know about prices --- I just want to wish you all the very best in this.
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Old 02-16-2010, 09:44 PM   #3
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God bless your family. I would do the Alaska cruise, I just checked into those for my parents anniversary in a year. Make sure when checking out options you tell the places about your situation and if there are any perks or programs out there to help.

Is there a place where we could make a little donation to your cause? My thinking is a little from a lot go a long way.
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Old 02-16-2010, 09:53 PM   #4
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Y'all are so sweet! My mom is SO amazing & her faith in Christ has truly blessed everyone she knows. Anytime we get down or sad, she immediately cheers us up & reminds us how much we have to live for. Her motto is Philippians 4:6.

About 20 of her friends threw her a slumber party a couple of weeks ago & we all had the BEST time! Some were worried that we'd all be sitting around crying & moping, but mom gave us a fashion show & modeled a ton of hats & wigs. It was hilarious & we will never forget how much fun we had with her that night!

Thanks for the tip on Alaska, frostymom. That's what I'm leaning towards, but it needs to be somewhere my brothers & sister can afford. Do you recommend a particular cruise line? I saw some info on Holland, and it looks like many of the ships offer discounts on the 3rd & 4th passengers.
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1986-WDW 15th Anniversary (only 2 days as a child) ..~.. 2006-Sheraton Vistana Villages (DD & DS 1st trip to WDW!!)
2007-Port Orleans French Quarter-10 days + Pensacola Beach ..~.. 2008-AS Movies-10 days + Pensacola Beach w/ MIMI
2009-15 Days of Free Dining at WDW + Destin Beach ..~.. 2010-9 Days of Polynesian + Premium at Thanksgiving w/ Granny
Oct 6, 2012-Anniversary Cruise- 7 Nights on Magic with DH ..~.. Oct 27, 2012- 7 Nights on Disney Magic w/Kids & Granny
Dec 2012-8 days of Deluxe Dining at the Poly ..~.. Dec 2012- 6 Night Christmas surprise on Disney Magic
Jan 2013-1st trip to DISNEYLAND!! Disneyland Hotel ..~.. May 2013-8 days at Yacht Club/Grand Floridian/AKL/AoA!
Sept 2013-13 days Wilderness Club Level & AKL Club Level NOJ ..~.. Oct 2013 DCL HalloWONDER Cruise
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UPCOMING Trips: WDW 2 weeks, Disneyland 1 week, AULANI 10 days
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Old 02-16-2010, 10:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weHEARTmickey View Post
Y'all are so sweet! My mom is SO amazing & her faith in Christ has truly blessed everyone she knows. Anytime we get down or sad, she immediately cheers us up & reminds us how much we have to live for. Her motto is Philippians 4:6.

About 20 of her friends threw her a slumber party a couple of weeks ago & we all had the BEST time! Some were worried that we'd all be sitting around crying & moping, but mom gave us a fashion show & modeled a ton of hats & wigs. It was hilarious & we will never forget how much fun we had with her that night!

Thanks for the tip on Alaska, frostymom. That's what I'm leaning towards, but it needs to be somewhere my brothers & sister can afford. Do you recommend a particular cruise line? I saw some info on Holland, and it looks like many of the ships offer discounts on the 3rd & 4th passengers.
I actually checked the Royal Carribean ships. I am not sure it could be contained for 500 per person though. It is pricey. Though maybe one of the discount sites can get better prices for your family.
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Old 02-16-2010, 10:10 PM   #6
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Hugs to you and your mom!

If you're considering budget, I personally would re-think the Alaskan cruise. I think Alaskan cruises might be quite expensive by the time you figure in the extra mandatory tips and drink fees (food is included but you only get free ice tea, coffee & tea on most cruises - everything else drink-wise (even sodas) has to be paid for) - I did some basic research and found a rate of $500-$600 per person for an inside or oceanview (not balcony) suite on the Princess or Holland America lines for a 7 day cruise. The extras like tips and drink fees in addition to flights might push you beyond your budget.

OR you could drive to Monterey and go on an excursion a boat for $34.95 per person for a two and half hours with your family and stay in an oceanview timeshare somewhere - not the same as the cruise but certainly memorable nonetheless. One of the searches I came up with an excursion from Monterey (but I can't vouch for it because I haven't done this) is

http://www.montereywhalewatching.com/

Blessings!
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Old 02-16-2010, 10:11 PM   #7
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Where would you all be coming from?

I went to cruises only website. Found in May 2010 a few inside cabins for under 500 pp. Those prices probably do not include port fees and taxes, etc...
May was less expensive than June. Holland America and Celebrity were the better priced lines on that site.
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Old 02-16-2010, 10:28 PM   #8
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WOW!! Thanks for all the advice!! We'll be traveling from the Dallas, TX area. If we fly, we'll fly out of Dallas Love Field.

How much do you normally pay for taxes & tips on a cruise? DH & I went on one about 10 yrs ago & I don't remember any of the details (we didn't budget much before kids!) Also, we wondered if RCI traded for rooms on a cruise ship? I tried to look it up, but I got lost trying to find it.

Monterey will be fine if that's what we have to do, & I know great memories will be made regardless. The main thing is finding beautiful whales for Mom to watch & it seems both destinations offer that. (And we may even be able to sneak in a day at Disneyland if we can "Give a Day") Thanks for all the advice
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1986-WDW 15th Anniversary (only 2 days as a child) ..~.. 2006-Sheraton Vistana Villages (DD & DS 1st trip to WDW!!)
2007-Port Orleans French Quarter-10 days + Pensacola Beach ..~.. 2008-AS Movies-10 days + Pensacola Beach w/ MIMI
2009-15 Days of Free Dining at WDW + Destin Beach ..~.. 2010-9 Days of Polynesian + Premium at Thanksgiving w/ Granny
Oct 6, 2012-Anniversary Cruise- 7 Nights on Magic with DH ..~.. Oct 27, 2012- 7 Nights on Disney Magic w/Kids & Granny
Dec 2012-8 days of Deluxe Dining at the Poly ..~.. Dec 2012- 6 Night Christmas surprise on Disney Magic
Jan 2013-1st trip to DISNEYLAND!! Disneyland Hotel ..~.. May 2013-8 days at Yacht Club/Grand Floridian/AKL/AoA!
Sept 2013-13 days Wilderness Club Level & AKL Club Level NOJ ..~.. Oct 2013 DCL HalloWONDER Cruise
June 2014: Last Minute Combo trip: Disney Dream + Coronado Springs Resort
UPCOMING Trips: WDW 2 weeks, Disneyland 1 week, AULANI 10 days
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Old 02-16-2010, 10:31 PM   #9
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Oh! Another thing...DH & one of my brother's have plant nurseries & work NON-STOP during the spring. Since we've had SNOW here, the nursery season probably won't start until mid-March. This means they'll have to work through mid-June.

That's why our vacation can't even start until somewhere near the end of June. We can go anytime during the summer. We just have to book around Mom's treatments. If we have to go in Sept, we could take the kids out of school.
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1986-WDW 15th Anniversary (only 2 days as a child) ..~.. 2006-Sheraton Vistana Villages (DD & DS 1st trip to WDW!!)
2007-Port Orleans French Quarter-10 days + Pensacola Beach ..~.. 2008-AS Movies-10 days + Pensacola Beach w/ MIMI
2009-15 Days of Free Dining at WDW + Destin Beach ..~.. 2010-9 Days of Polynesian + Premium at Thanksgiving w/ Granny
Oct 6, 2012-Anniversary Cruise- 7 Nights on Magic with DH ..~.. Oct 27, 2012- 7 Nights on Disney Magic w/Kids & Granny
Dec 2012-8 days of Deluxe Dining at the Poly ..~.. Dec 2012- 6 Night Christmas surprise on Disney Magic
Jan 2013-1st trip to DISNEYLAND!! Disneyland Hotel ..~.. May 2013-8 days at Yacht Club/Grand Floridian/AKL/AoA!
Sept 2013-13 days Wilderness Club Level & AKL Club Level NOJ ..~.. Oct 2013 DCL HalloWONDER Cruise
June 2014: Last Minute Combo trip: Disney Dream + Coronado Springs Resort
UPCOMING Trips: WDW 2 weeks, Disneyland 1 week, AULANI 10 days
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Old 02-16-2010, 10:42 PM   #10
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Isn't one of Disney's cruise ship going over to the west coast to do alaskan cruises at some point??
I heard it at some point in time. And I know DVC is connected with RCI, and you can use RCI points for booking with DVC, which can be used on the cruise line.

Another thought... what about sea world?? there's many trainer for a day programs that could get your mom up close and personal with the different animals. It's not the same as seeing them in the wild, which I'm sure is amazing. But it's definatly an experience.
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Old 02-16-2010, 10:46 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SandrA9810 View Post
Isn't one of Disney's cruise ship going over to the west coast to do alaskan cruises at some point??
I heard it at some point in time. And I know DVC is connected with RCI, and you can use RCI points for booking with DVC, which can be used on the cruise line.

Another thought... what about sea world?? there's many trainer for a day programs that could get your mom up close and personal with the different animals. It's not the same as seeing them in the wild, which I'm sure is amazing. But it's definatly an experience.
Thanks, SandrA. From what I could see on DVC, it may be out of our price range (even if 1 of the rooms is paid for?) But, it is worth looking into if we could trade the RCI week.

I told Mom we could take her to SeaWorld & she said that would be fine, but I could tell it wasn't what she wanted. We'll figure something out, but we're going to make sure she sees whales in the wild while she can.

It scares us having to wait until summer to take her. The liver is such a vital organ, & I pray she is healthy enough to make it this summer.
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1986-WDW 15th Anniversary (only 2 days as a child) ..~.. 2006-Sheraton Vistana Villages (DD & DS 1st trip to WDW!!)
2007-Port Orleans French Quarter-10 days + Pensacola Beach ..~.. 2008-AS Movies-10 days + Pensacola Beach w/ MIMI
2009-15 Days of Free Dining at WDW + Destin Beach ..~.. 2010-9 Days of Polynesian + Premium at Thanksgiving w/ Granny
Oct 6, 2012-Anniversary Cruise- 7 Nights on Magic with DH ..~.. Oct 27, 2012- 7 Nights on Disney Magic w/Kids & Granny
Dec 2012-8 days of Deluxe Dining at the Poly ..~.. Dec 2012- 6 Night Christmas surprise on Disney Magic
Jan 2013-1st trip to DISNEYLAND!! Disneyland Hotel ..~.. May 2013-8 days at Yacht Club/Grand Floridian/AKL/AoA!
Sept 2013-13 days Wilderness Club Level & AKL Club Level NOJ ..~.. Oct 2013 DCL HalloWONDER Cruise
June 2014: Last Minute Combo trip: Disney Dream + Coronado Springs Resort
UPCOMING Trips: WDW 2 weeks, Disneyland 1 week, AULANI 10 days
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Old 02-16-2010, 10:46 PM   #12
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I just wanted to say that your family will be in my prayers and I just think it is so great that your family is doing this together!!!
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Old 02-16-2010, 10:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
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I just wanted to say that your family will be in my prayers and I just think it is so great that your family is doing this together!!!
Thanks for the prayers, goofymom! They mean so much to our family. Let me tell you how much the prayers are working.....

Mom has had 2 F.A.C. chemo treatments, which were working on her breast tumor. Unfortunately, the cancer in her liver was still growing. So the dr's were trying to find a clinical trial she could qualify for. She has what they call "triple negative" which lowers her treatment options quite a bit. Anyway...

Last Monday, she had some more testing done & her oncologist told her she probably wouldn't qualify for any trials because of the severe liver damage. (Chemo is pretty hard on the liver, so her enzymes have to fall within a certain range.) Monday her #'s were so high, that they said there probably wasn't a chance for her to get into a trial.

SO, we had everyone we knew praying for her & for her #'s to fall within the desired range. We went back on Thur for more testing & HER LIVER ENZYMES WERE WITHIN RANGE!!! The oncologist couldn't believe it! Mom told her it was because God had answered our prayers. So, thank you, thank you for the prayers!
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1986-WDW 15th Anniversary (only 2 days as a child) ..~.. 2006-Sheraton Vistana Villages (DD & DS 1st trip to WDW!!)
2007-Port Orleans French Quarter-10 days + Pensacola Beach ..~.. 2008-AS Movies-10 days + Pensacola Beach w/ MIMI
2009-15 Days of Free Dining at WDW + Destin Beach ..~.. 2010-9 Days of Polynesian + Premium at Thanksgiving w/ Granny
Oct 6, 2012-Anniversary Cruise- 7 Nights on Magic with DH ..~.. Oct 27, 2012- 7 Nights on Disney Magic w/Kids & Granny
Dec 2012-8 days of Deluxe Dining at the Poly ..~.. Dec 2012- 6 Night Christmas surprise on Disney Magic
Jan 2013-1st trip to DISNEYLAND!! Disneyland Hotel ..~.. May 2013-8 days at Yacht Club/Grand Floridian/AKL/AoA!
Sept 2013-13 days Wilderness Club Level & AKL Club Level NOJ ..~.. Oct 2013 DCL HalloWONDER Cruise
June 2014: Last Minute Combo trip: Disney Dream + Coronado Springs Resort
UPCOMING Trips: WDW 2 weeks, Disneyland 1 week, AULANI 10 days
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Old 02-16-2010, 11:06 PM   #14
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cancer hit my dad's side of the family pretty hard last year. My g'father got diagnosed first with throat cancer. Then my aunt got colon cancer. She passed in October, and my g'father died shortly before Christmas.

It's scary how hard and fast these things can hit.
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Old 02-16-2010, 11:16 PM   #15
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My sympathies to you and your family. My mother-in-law had stage 4 breast cancer and it was a sad time for the family. Not to scare you (and every case is different) but my mother-in-law only lived 4 months after she was diagnosed.

My concern is that summer is a ways off and a lot can happen in those months. Is it absolutely imperative that your brother and your husband go on the trip with the rest of the family? Delaying too long could mean your mother will not be able to go on her trip. I don't want you to regret waiting.

I googled "whale watching" and March and it looks like San Diego might be an option in early March but you would have to check on the migration patterns this year.
http://sandiego.about.com/cs/familyf...hale_watch.htm

When you go on your trip, talk to the doctor in advance about anti-nausea medications for your mother. I went whale watching when I was pregnant and I was miserably sea sick.

Last edited by buckler; 02-16-2010 at 11:33 PM.
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