Wednesday, July 29, 2009

angels among us

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I knew right away that I would seek treatment at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. I didn't stop to think about the logistics. We have generous friends and family in Boston, all willing to help us out in any way that they could. I figured we'd work something out.

But a ten hour round trip by car is not feasible every week, or even two. With the need to maintain some semblance of a normal schedule for a family, and the wear and tear of the treatment, getting to and from Boston as quickly as possible is very important. And that's what the pilots of Angelflights do for us.

Angelflights is a non-profit organization that coordinates free flights for medical patients with pilots who fly their own planes on their own time, at their own expense. The biggest drawback for many patients would be the size of the planes, which tends to be small. Very small. This is not a problem for me. I love flying in general, and particularly in tiny planes. I actually consider it one of the (very few) benefits of having cancer that I have had the opportunity to fly along the coast of Maine a number of times now, just a few thousand feet above land. It is exhilarating, and beautiful, and so much quicker than by car.

This is one of the first planes that we traveled in. I took the photo of it from the back seat of one of the next planes we flew in. This was when they flew us to NYC.

This is the view of the Deer Isle Bridge that we had from that first little red and white plane. Isn't it breathtaking?

Our return to Mount Desert Island after my last treatment. Seeing the island again, whether from the road or from the air, always brings me a feeling of peace.

This photo is of our last pilot, Dan Herrick, just about to land the plane at the Bar Harbor airport. See the runway through the windshield? Isn't that cool? That's my partner, Greg, beside him in the front seat. Another benefit to flying this way is that we get to wear headphones and listen to all the air traffic control radio. I know, I'm a geek.

If not for Angelflights and the pilots who fly for it, getting treatment for cancer would have been much more difficult for me, making an unpleasant experience torturous. I am so very grateful to these very generous people who have made life so much easier for so many of us. Greg and I have flown about a dozen times with about 8 different pilots now, and have been taxied from remote airports to Boston by 2 Earth Angels. Angelflights flies patients with all sorts of medical needs, and of all ages. There are distinct Angelflights organizations all over the country; the one I've been flying with is Angelflights Northeast. Their phone number is 1.800.549.9980. You can find them on the web here.

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