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 What To Do In an Emergency With a Trip Booked

 by: Tom (Pogo)

What do you do if you are faced with an impending death of a family member just as your trip is supposed to take place?  We’ve heard of this happening to other people, but it will never happen to me, right? 

Wrong!   It could happen to you and if so, here’s how we were able to handle this situation.  Your situation may not be as exact as ours, but the worries, thoughts, and circumstances could be very similar.  First a little background.

We booked our early December trip in February of this year and we were very excited to start planning our trip to see the Christmas decorations at Walt Disney World for the first time.   Our flights were booked as soon as we felt the price was right and soon after, we had our Advanced Dining Reservations confirmed.  All was well, until Mom was taken to the hospital after falling and hitting her head as well as breaking her wrist.

While under going a CT scan, it appeared there was some serious swelling around the base of the brain.  It was later clarified on an enhanced MRI that Mom had metastasis brain cancer and had very little time left here with us.  We were told she had about two to three weeks to live and our trip was scheduled for the fourth week from then.  We didn’t have a clue as what to do and we were so consumed by her pending death that it didn’t really matter to us.

So how did we handle it, both from a personal basis as well as an emotional basis?

We made arrangements with hospice to bring Mom home and I really considered canceling our trip.  I contacted my Travel Agent and explained what was going on and she contacted Disney on my behalf to see what our options would be.

Disney was wonderful and understood the severity of the situation.  They told us we could reschedule our trip, as late as the day before the trip, even though we didn’t purchase trip insurance. We would need to pay a small rescheduling fee as well as any increase in the price based on seasonal changes. With that worry resolved, I could concentrate on helping my family get through this.

Emotionally, I was a wreck but I also have an understanding of how cancer affects the body and how a body reacts to treatments so I was one step ahead of the rest of my family.  I’ve worked with many families whose loved ones were going through cancer treatments and made sure I’ve done every thing possible for them with their insurance claims. 

But there comes a time when you just can’t stop thinking.  About five days after Mom’s Oncologist gave us the bad news, I started to self destruct emotionally.   I felt like the walls were closing in on me.  I couldn’t concentrate on my work or anything.  I didn’t feel like eating.  I had a hard time sleeping.  All this was affecting my body in ways that were not good. 


One thing I had going for me, was the knowledge that my Mom had lived a good full life and she was completing her journey.  You know, the circle of life, so to speak.  The lyrics of the song do not do justice to the meaning, but the meaning from the song lifted my heart.

Another, I have a strong religious faith and I relied on it heavily.  It doesn’t matter whether you are Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Episcopalian or what ever.  It was faith that my God would help me.

But the best thing I had going for me was wonderful emotional support from my wife Patti and my circle of friends.  Reading emails, private messages and especially the telephone calls of concern helped me to clear my head enough so I could make the right decisions.   And knowing you are reading this, you are either part of that circle of friends or you’ve started to join in here on

Mom passed away the following Wednesday evening and we had her funeral service on Saturday.  We now have a little over two weeks before our trip as I sit her writing this.  We are getting very excited for this trip because we are meeting some of these same people in my circle of friends for the very first time in December.

So to sum everything up:

  1. Contact your travel agent if you used one to book the trip.  If not, call Disney yourself.  Find out your options.
  2. Wait until the last day to make changes in your dates.  The problem might resolve itself on its own.  In this case, we were waiting until one week before.
  3. Let your friends know what’s happening and take comfort from them.  That’s why they are your friends in the first place.  But remember to make it a two way street.
  4. A little prayer can help the pixie dust work even better.  Rely on your faith.
  5. Enjoy your circle of life and spread the love every day.  Hugging is free and it’s very good for the soul. If in doubt about any of this, email me.  I can be reached at

Thanks for being a member.  


Pogo AKA: Tom
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