Not The Mother’s Day Surprise Anyone Hopes For…

Filed Under: Misc.

This post has nothing to do with points or travel, so by all means stop reading if that’s what you’re looking for. However, it has to do with life in general, and if there’s one thing I’ve increasingly learned over time, it’s the importance of balancing obsessive travel while trying to live a “normal” life. And what happened this past week definitely puts that into perspective.

I consider you guys to be like my family (after all I spend more time on this site than with anyone/anything else, so….), and wanted to share a bit about the past week. This might also explain the lack of content this week, and for those who have been saying “old news, other sites wrote about this yesterday,” hopefully this explains why.

Cinco de Mayo…

Two Sundays ago (Cinco de Mayo) Ford and I were at the dog park with Winston and I remember saying to Ford “boy, life is good and has really slowed down lately. It won’t always be that way, but I’m grateful it is right now.”

The past year otherwise has been crazy (not in a bad way, but just so busy that it was overwhelming). Having a weekend at home where we had nothing to do was a foreign concept to us, and we appreciated it.

Given the quiet weekend we had, our plan for the following week was to see both of our moms for Mother’s Day. I spent a couple of days last week in Savannah, and during that time Ford’s mom visited him in Miami. I was going to see her briefly, and then the plan was for both of us to go to Tampa to surprise my mom over the weekend. We thought that surprise would put a big smile on her face.

We ended up seeing her, but not under the conditions we had hoped…

A call from my mom…

My mom called me on May 5 (just hours after Ford and I were talking about how calm life was), and said she wasn’t feeling well, so she went to the doctor. It looked like she had a hernia, so they were going to do some more tests. She was fine for a bit, but it didn’t seem like that big of a deal.

But Thursday the pain got so bad that she decided to go to the ER, and at that point she was given news that no one wants to get. I was in Savannah for some meetings, and naturally hopped on a plane down to see her.

She was in the hospital from Thursday through Tuesday, and got a countless number of tests done. Seeing the strength with which she handled everything was inspiring. There were moments where I thought I was going to collapse or have a heart attack, so I can’t even imagine how she must have been feeling.

Then on Sunday she got a pretty serious cancer diagnosis… not exactly the Mother’s Day anyone would hope to have. The good news is that she has a chance of fighting it. While five days in the hospital isn’t fun, that’s not that long when you consider that she went from thinking she had nothing major, to starting chemo.

Oddly all of this was a bit of a relief compared to how we were feeling on Friday and Saturday, before we got some definitive test results, and didn’t know if the cancer had spread so far that it wasn’t even worth fighting.

Seeing her strength and positive attitude throughout all of this has been amazing. The worst day mentally was probably Saturday, when we were waiting on results to tell us if she even had a chance of fighting it.

We decided to bring Winston to the little park at the hospital that day, and that made her smile.

On Monday she got taken away for four different procedures, before eventually starting chemo at 11PM, and I can’t even describe how well she handled it.

This is of course only the start of a long journey.

What’s my point in all of this?

On the most basic level I’m writing about this partly because it’s sort of therapeutic to do so, and partly to ask you guys to keep her in your thoughts.

But beyond that I feel like there are some bigger life lessons that are either reinforced with this, or that I’m just now learning.

Show your loved ones you love them

This is something that I’ve felt for a long time, but in situations like this I still think to myself “have I done enough?” There are many things I’ll admit I suck at, but I’d like to think I’m a pretty decent son to both of my parents. I love them dearly for all they’ve done for me throughout my life, and the least I can do is spend the rest of my life trying to repay them for that.

But even so, I felt guilty and like I didn’t do enough. Maybe that’s natural no matter what, but this whole experience has taught me that you can always do more, and that’s something I plan to do. Pick up the phone and tell your mom and/or dad you love them. Make an effort to do something special for them. Use those miles & points to plan something really cool for them.

Health & balance are important

This is a trend in general that I’ve been embracing, as I separately wrote about how I’m over my “travel addiction.” My feelings on that still ring true, but I think it can’t be emphasized enough. Take care of yourself and your loved ones, because good health is the most important thing you can have.

Not just that, but be grateful for good health. Waking up every day and feeling well is such a blessing you can’t take for granted.

Life is cruel, so be kind

No one’s life is perfect, but I’m guessing if you’re reading this blog you have a lot to be thankful for (it means you have access to a computer, and therefore probably have access to clean water, etc.).

While there’s so much joy in life, there’s also so much sorrow. Everyone has probably either already dealt with horrible sadness in their life, or will at some point. I have to admit that I’m not really religious, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder why any higher power or creator or spontaneously created universe would let science act in this way.

But my takeaway from this is that I’m going to try to be a more compassionate person across the board. You don’t know what someone is going through at any given point, and it can be easy to lose sight of that, especially when we’re not going through similar things.

A little bit of compassion goes a long way.

Finding balance is tough

This is the thing I’m having to adjust to most, and I’m trying to figure out the right balance. All I want to really do at this point is take care of my mom. I don’t really want to think about anything else. But that also isn’t realistic, and finding that right balance is tough.

I’m lucky that I love my “job,” and in many ways this is a good distraction for me. Today was the first day that I spent almost the entire day “working” since this all started, and frankly it feels mentally freeing to be able to do so for a minute.

I’d love to hear any thoughts you guys have on the best way to find that balance, since I know there are people who have dealt with similar situations, if not much worse.

Bottom line

If you’re lucky enough to still have your parents in your life in a positive way, please give them an extra call to tell them you love them, and do something special for them. You can always earn more miles & points, but you can’t buy time for making more memories with those who matter most to you…

  1. My mom called me the week before mothers day and I ignored it. She texted me I Love You. Then on Saturday I got a call she died. She was young and healthy. Tell your mothers you love them, even if they already know it.

  2. Ben – Thank you for sharing this with us. This OMAAT community does feel like a little family, as odd as that may sound. You’ve been a part of my life basically daily for years now – can’t say that about any other site on the internet.

    I can’t imagine what you guys are going through. This must be so scary. I’m not a religious person so I won’t offer a disingenuous prayer, but I hope the universe holds a positive outcome for you and your mom. I like to think that good things happen to good people, and you are a good person. And if you got any of your sass from your mom, then I’m confident she’ll fight like hell.

    I’ll be giving my mom a call tonight to tell her that I love her. I’ll be thinking of you guys in the days ahead. Take as much time as you need to tend to your people – we’ll be here waiting whenever you get back.

  3. Cancer fucking sucks, but it’s good when it’s discovered early enough to be able to fight it. All the best to your mom, and I hope she makes a speedy and full recovery!

  4. First of all, all the best for you mum and yes. „Stay is a phrase but really important.

    She needs support, even if she doesn’t looks like. So, good to be with her.

    All the best for you and the family, Ben

  5. Sorry to hear about your mom, Ben. Best wishes to her, to you and to all friends and family involved.

  6. Very well written and not just therapeutic for you—good for us to read as well! Best wishes Ben!

  7. Lucky, I am truly sorry to read what your family is going through.
    I sincerely wish your mother a healthy recovery – these days it’s quite common to fight and win cancer.
    You are one of my favorite people out there (including people I know both offline and online), and I truly hope all will be well.

  8. Sorry that you all got bad news. Best wishes for your mom and your family. Help her stay strong in her fight.

  9. Wishing your Mother and your entire family best wishes in this fight, Ben. I hope she kicks cancer’s ass.

  10. A lot of my friends have been through this with their mothers. I went through it with mine. All our mothers are still with us, so please take heart. Your mother is clearly a tough cookie. Something I’ve heard oncologists say time and again is that a strong will and determination really do make a difference. Thank you for having the courage and presence of mind to share this news with your readers. We’re right here with you.

  11. Ben, Ford, Ben’s Mom and Dad, &all your family!
    Best wishes!
    And always lots of hugs ❤️❤️

  12. Don’t even think for one second that something bad could happen because that will make everything much worse. It’s at times like this you have to stay strong and put on a brave face in order to stop your own thoughts from making this horrible ordeal even worse.

  13. Thanks for an inspiring post. Best wishes to you and your mom. Keep us posted, because we do feel like family.
    I’m sure you’re feeling overwhelmed, but I can tell you are on the right path. Your advice on caring about family and health is just as spot on as advice about premium airline products.

  14. “Life is cruel, so be kind”

    This. There’s rarely a need to be the jerk in someone else’s life.

    Good luck!

    (“I can’t help but wonder why any higher power or creator or spontaneously created universe would let science act in this way” – Ben, “science” didn’t do this. Nature did. I’m also not religious, and sometimes I find comfort in the randomness of it all. We aren’t selected to suffer or to be happy and content, but all of these things happen to all of us. So we should accept the pleasure and joy life gives us, and let that sustain us through the pain.)

  15. Ben, Ford, Ben’s Mom and Dad, & all your family!
    Best wishes!
    Always lots of hugs ❤️❤️
    Hugs in Ben’s family and all families
    Travelers, Hug em if you got em!

  16. Best wishes, Ben. Tough news for sure. You won’t regret taking the time you need to be with her even if it costs you in other areas.

  17. What a lovely lady and so sorry to hear such sad news. I realize you may not be a religious person, but I would hope you might accept a sincere wish of prayers for her and your family from a Catholic priest who has read this blog for years. Healing and strength …

  18. In 2012 my mother went from feeling ‘not quite right’ to getting a diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer (liver…NOT good). Her 3 years’ previous colonoscopy had missed it, it seems. She was healthy and upbeat, not incredibly old at 67. Her health let the drs be aggressive with her, removing part of her colon, gall bladder, a bunch of lymph nodes, and a large part of her liver. Following her recovery from that she started chemo. She’s been clean and clear for the past 6+ years, we’re glad she’s still with us and loving every day with her.

    So take heart. Cancer is terrible and the treatments are awful but good things will happen! I prefer to share my story since so often all you hear are the bad stories, at least that’s all we heard.

  19. Best wishes to your Mom and all of your family.

    Never forget family comes first. I learned this the hard way.

  20. Ben – I’ve had cancer in the rear view for 2.5 years.

    I coached my mother through cancer treatment a year after I had the last of my tumors removed. She’s gotten past 2 bouts of cancer.

    Don’t give up!

    Now I jokingly complain of losing my statuses that year. What a brat I’ve become!

    Life and your family are blessings.


  21. Bad things happen to everyone, always unannounced. It’s our attitude towards life and the choices we make that make the difference, but we are all human and our feelings can sometimes overwhelm us. This community of readers really care about you, and we will always be here to support you and encourage you.

    Health is more important than many of us realise, our fast and reckless lifestyles make us oblivious of the important things. That’s how I got high blood pressure at only 22. Good habits really do make all the difference.

    Best wishes for your mom and you. You are in all of our prayers.

    Don’t let the moment overwhelm you, keep your head up and be optimistic. Trust modern medicine!

  22. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s cancer diagnosis. Sending warm thoughts her way to help vanquish the monster.

    So as to your question – I went through something similar when my dad fell ill and then passed away in 2013. I buried myself in work, which I found therapeutic at the time. Being busy meant I wasn’t thinking about what happened (and, if we’re being honest, gave me an excuse to dodge the rituals in our religion that you’re supposed to do when someone dies, which I didn’t want to deal with), but that’s probably not the right answer, either. I’m not suggesting that you quit working entirely, but take a little time each day to spend time with your mom and/or Ford. She’ll appreciate your presence, even if there isn’t anything specific to “do” while you’re there. Most importantly, talk to them honestly about how you feel, especially if you “feel like you’re going to collapse” like you said. I bottled things up inside and I recognize now that just made things worse. My $.02.

  23. Dear Lucky,

    Thank you for sharing your life with us. I wish you best wishes from the bottom of my heart to you and your mother.
    I live in the U.K. and my mother lived in Washington DC.
    My mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 and she was the most brave person I have ever known. After her diagnosis I took a lot of travel to make sure that I was there for all her doctors appointment and radiation therapy even though I have a brother and a sister in DC living with her who took excellent care of her. I knew it was important for me to be there at those difficult times and cherish every little moment I had with her. Sadly she passed away 6 months ago and I have great memories I can hold onto. I miss taking her to her doctor’s visit and she was always full of life and had a great spirit. All her doctors were fond of her.

    I have always made a point to visit my mother often and not taking any other vacation. My only vacations for the past 10 years has been to visit her and take my kids & husband so she can have the chance to enjoy her grandchildren and they do have the chance to know the love of a grandma.
    I gave birth to both my kids in DC so I could be near my mother who had a reduced mobility due to osteoporosis as well.
    I can truly say that spending time with my mother were the best moment of life and I miss her deeply every single day.
    Today I have been able to visit many places Japan, Singapore, Malaysia but nothing beat the feeling of landing at Dulles and hugging my mother.

    Take the time you need with your mother and remember we cannot turn back the clock.
    My mother always said in the joke “ you cannot go to the shop and buy a new mother “

    Due to the extra travelling I made that I became a miles collector.
    Please Take care of yourself.

  24. Ben,
    From an avid reader and a physician, I wish you, your mother, and your family all the best. This too shall pass.

  25. Can relate: just went through this myself. Mom had surgery earlier this year (they caught it early enough chemo wasn’t required). So far, so good – and she’s fully recovered.

    I’m hoping your mom comes out of this just as well. Sending best wishes from my family to yours.

  26. Sending positive thoughts and best wishes during your mom’s fight!

    To the extent you can be there for chemo days that can make a big difference as many folks have to spend that time alone since their family members can’t afford to not go to work during the day.

    Positivity and mindset make a huge difference too – not just your mom’s but those around her! The positive vibes and optimism you display will reinforce hers.

  27. So sorry to hear this news. Sending best wishes and positive thoughts from the whole Chivas family to yours.

  28. Wow, that’s awful news, but great perspective.

    I hope she responds well to the treatment! Good luck!

  29. Best wishes to your Mom, your family, and her medical team!

    Thanks for sharing your perspective and “wisdom” with your OMAAT family. Kindness is always the answer.

    I often think about the surprise birthday trip you took your Dad on. I would love to be able to do that for my parents someday. 🙂

  30. Best Wishes to your mom and family. I have a similar ‘job’ like yours and am trying to find the balance now.

  31. She was a key voice for you to choose this career trajectory.

    What an amazing “coming full circle” that you’re now afforded the flexibility to help you as they need you.

    They/you “done good”.

  32. As soon as I started reading this, my gut feeling knew something was off, kept thinking “please don’t go there”, until it went there. Lucky while I’m sure you’ve been a fantastic son to a fantastic pair of parents, no part of me has an ounce of doubt that your parents don’t realise who you are and what you’ve actually done with your life. A countless number of people have been able to achieve their travel aspirations solely because of you, a lot of them didn’t even know they wanted to spend their time in travel until you showed them that they did. This blog goes beyond travel advisory, you’ve helped an innumerable number of people widen their world view, who in return have shared their stories to widen another innumerable bunch of people’s view, indirectly because of you. Of course one can always do more and I’m sure that you will as well, but often the first thoughts in our head are the rightfully true ones, and the second thought is our anxiety talking. So when you think you’ve been a good son and then doubt whether you’ve done enough or not, that’s not reality, that’s your anxious and worried mind. Thank you for being you and I thank your parents for being them for making you who you are, indirectly affecting all of us here at OMAAT. My best thoughts and wishes go out to you and your family, and your mother will be in my thoughts. Take care.

  33. I’m so sorry to hear the news, Lucky. I hope everything goes well for you and your family. All the best.

  34. I hope for a speedy recovery for your mother, and for you to have many more healthy years with your parents.

  35. Also, all of me is certain that your mother will beat cancer and be back and preppy far before the 737-MAX returns to service.

  36. Take care of yourself so you can help take care of mom. There’s a time when you need to be able to take a complete break from work to process news and be with your family, and another time to dive into work to help return to normal. If leaving work entirely was tough for you this time around, think of building systems in place to allow it next time.

    I’ve been through this a few times with loved one’s with major health issues, and it’s the best advice I can think of. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  37. Best wishes to your mom! My mom has also recently dealt with cancer and it was tough but it’s imperative to know how to get your mind off of things as to not drive yourself crazy

  38. This is literally my nightmare, and the fear of it is a big reason why I feel guilty over traveling as much as I do. I’m so sorry.

  39. Such terrible news and I am so sorry your Mom must go through this. Millions have beat cancer and I’m sure your Mom will be among them. Treatments are better than ever before and with all the positive energy coming to her from your OMAAT family I’m sure this will just end up being a small footnote in the days, months and years to pass when you both look back and remember that one difficult Mother’s Day in 2019. My best wishes for a full and speedy recovery to your Mother.

  40. One day at a time my friend. Try to stay mindful, grateful, positive and present – sending love to you and yours.

  41. Best wishes to your Mom, Lucky. She sounds like she has the right attitude and that can go a long way in fighting cancer. I’m two years in on my diagnosis and the prognosis is very good. Thank you also for sharing. People here do care about you.

  42. Sorry to hear about this Ben. I’ve been through this twice with my own mother and she beat it both times. Not a fun experience but it’s certainly possible to beat it.

  43. I recently went through something similar with a close family member, although not quite as close as my mom. I’ll keep you and her in my thoughts. I hope for the best. I’ve found that in my times of stress and despair, the thing that helps me the most is to do something for someone else…I think it helps quiet the panic and the insanity to focus some energy on someone else (that’s not involved). All in due time, of course… first treat yourself and your family with kindness and compassion and generosity. Or just do whatever feels best…there aren’t any rules. *hugs*

  44. Ben,

    I’ve been reading the comments and I keep thinking to myself, “Look at the community you’ve built.” It’s really admirable that you have given so much to so many. You can see this in this thread.

    I’m sending along another set of hopeful thoughts to add to the pile.

  45. My friend’s mother got diagnosed the week before Mother’s Day and hers has spread too much. She is now in hospice. This week the same friend’s daughter suddenly passed away. Take the time to spend time with everyone you love. Sometimes there is no tomorrow. Luckily for my friend she spent lots of time with her mother and her daughter.

  46. We’ve been through something similar in my family. Thoughts and prayers are with you and yours, Ben.

  47. I echo others and wish you and your family the best through this horrible journey

    There is no positive to this, although it will help you understand what is truly important

    Reach out, and seize the day. Cherish what you have, and make sure you have no regrets.

    Be there for your mother and yourself. In the future you won’t care about a missed blog post. You will care about whatever you may have missed in your mother’s life.

    With love…

  48. Love and prayers to you and your family!

    Ever since that one Germanwings-flight crashed, I say at the end of each phone call with my spouse those three important words: “I love you”. Rarely done it before the crash because I thought what could possibly go wrong? You never know when your time is up, so live your life to the fullest!

  49. Thank you for sharing. Very well written. Wishing your mother much strength for the road ahead.

  50. “Life is cruel, so be kind”
    Well said Ben
    I can’t imagine trying to write blog posts with this weighing on your mind. I’ll be praying for her
    Best wishes

  51. So sorry to hear about this Ben. Your family is my thoughts and all the best to your mom to fight this. Just like many of your readers, I’ve had close family members diagnosed with and fight cancer. It can be incredibly mentally exhausting for caregivers but having you close by will give your mom confidence and strength (she has no worries with a caring son like you). Take care and I’m so glad you’re open with this – your blog family cares deeply about you.

  52. Hi Ben: So sorry to hear the bad news. Sending you and your family the best!

    My brother was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and it was not always the most pleasant journey but being with your loved one’s during these challenging times is time that you will always love and cherish. It certainly puts things in perspective in life and I think re-emphasizes the importance of making everyday the best it can be, including going on adventures that will always live with you for your lifetime.

    Hoping that good news will be coming to your mom soon!!

  53. Sorry to hear this news, Ben, and wishing for a speedy round through chemo and on to recovery for you mom. I appreciate your sharing this news and agree that moments like this should make one take pause and think about how they spend their time and conduct their life. Take care.

  54. Ben – so sorry to hear this, but I echo the others in saying I really do hope for a speedy recovery. I can’t imagine what she must be going through.

    Also, really well written post. I think it sums up what a lot of us in the travel community feel from time to time. Amazing trips can always be had while time with loved ones is fleeting. Let’s all take this to heart.

    All the best to you, your mom and your family.

  55. As I always wish you and your team the best of luck, safety, health, and happiness everyday, I also want to extend best wishes of luck, safety, health, and happiness to your dear mom and lovely family.

  56. Best wishes from Philadelphia for your mother’s speedy recovery; I know all-too-well the difficulty of a cancer diagnosis in your immediate family and the impact it can have on all involved. You’re very lucky to have such a close relationship with your parents and a partner like Ford in all of this. All the best, Ben.

  57. So sorry to hear about your mom Ben. Your post is a great reminder to everyone not to take your health or loved ones for granted. Sending you and your whole family lots of strength, support, and peace.

  58. Ben, love and support from friends and family are the best therapy. Best wishes to you and your family.

  59. Best wishes Ben. Look after your mom and stay home as she needs you.

    I am an old family doctor who deals with lifes tragedies every day. My wife died cancer 8 years ago, so I understand completely what you are feeling.

    Your family here appreciate all the knowledge you have given us over the years (since 2016 for me). If you have to take a 3 or 6 or 12 month break, you have others to fill the slack. Spend the time with your mom and I hope she gets 100% cured. Then you can continue your hectic travel, but for now – she is #1

    God bless and best wishes

  60. Lucky – I am writing this from LH first class. I booked this with points a few days ago through United. I don’t know if I’d even be able to tally how much of my travel the last few years has been with points (and tips about how to book with those points) because of you. So thank you for what you do. This post made me cry. I wish you and your mom the best.

  61. My Mom best two bits of cancer, each requiring a mastectomy. This was 35 years ago, when treatments were much tougher on the patients. She lived another 15 years after the last one and lived a long life.

    Hang in there. My thoughts are with you and your Mim!

  62. All the best to you and your family during this difficult time. Don’t worry too much about the site right now – your loyal following isn’t going anywhere.

  63. Lucky – lifting you & your family up in Prayer tonight my friend!
    Do not underestimate the ‘power of Prayer’…
    Please know that you are loved by many my friend!
    joeboo from Houston

  64. Thanks for sharing this, Ben. Best wishes to your mom and all of your family during this journey. You will give her great strength…no question. In the meantime take a break from this for the love of god. Throw up some best of’s or invite Debit to do a guest review. In the meantime we will all be here and rooting for you and your lovely Mom.

  65. wow, what a moving post..

    indeed we feel like part of your family dear Ben,
    thanks to your wonderful blog and generous information I was able to take my dad to Dubai on his 70th Birthday, it was a great joy for him, and I am forever grateful for that. Otherwise it would be totally out of my reach to give my dad such a great gift.

    How beautiful she is and what a lovely picture with Winston!

    I’ll keep your Mother in my prayers and I’m sure she well be great for many years to come!

  66. Best wishes to you all. Certainly that kind of unexpected news probably hits harder. I’ve been watching my parents slow down considerably over the last several years – they’re 80 and almost 81. I’ve made it a point to go and visit them more frequently than I had been since none of us are going to live forever.

  67. Sending good thoughts and prayers your way! Your mom is lucky to have such a great son and I’m sure knowing you are there with love and support will help her as she fights her cancer. Really heart-warming to see all the comments and how people come out to support their “family” in tough times!

  68. Balance is hard. My own Mother sadly lost her heroic battle with cancer when I was in my 20s. In the months leading up to the sad outcome, I continued to pursue my career goals and demonstrate to her that I was both successful and happy with my life and this gave her a lot of comfort. Looking back, my father and two brothers also kept everything upbeat, continuing to take holidays together and having family events throughout it all. We planned and carried out these events which, looking back on it today, allowed us to not become overwhelmed or depressed and that certainly meant everything to her. These positive memories are what we recall today not the difficult ones. I encourage you to not hold back and continue with your plans and make sure you schedule lots of time with your Mother to enjoy family events throughout her treatment because it will help everyone get through it, especially her. I’m confident you, your family and most importantly, your Mother, will get through this with a successful and happy outcome. Hang in there, it will get easier.

  69. Best wishes to your mom that she kicks cancer’s ass! I have a good friend who a few years ago was diagnosed with one of those “you have a 1 in 5 chance of surviving” cancers. She has beaten the odds, including by undergoing some then-experimental treatments. If your mom wants to talk with her shoot me a message and I’ll put you in touch.

  70. So sorry to hear that mate… and thank you for sharing. We’re all here thinking about you and your Mum and the rest of your family and wish you the very best. Things are getting better when it comes to fighting this disgusting, horrible “C” monster and I’m hearing much more about recovery in recent years than anything else.
    In the meantime, you will find the balance yourself that suits YOU the best. I think keeping up with the site is healthy for you and will give you the mental and emotional strength when it’s time to be with your Mum too.
    Hugs to you!

  71. Hang in there, Ben. Words cannot properly convey my gratitude for all that you have done to enhance my life, and the ability that your knowledge and passion have given me to create awesome travel experiences with my family. I just got back this month from taking my parents to Italy, which was largely funded by miles and points.

    I lost my brother to a horrific form of rare cancer after a long, hard-fought battle. I am grateful for the experiences that I shared with my brother during his long fight, and the time spent. While everybody handles stress and trauma differently, I found that work was an “escape” from dealing with the difficulty of his passing. I know how much you love your parents, and I know that they know it too.

    Don’t be afraid to “escape” to the miles and points world when you need to. It is important to take care of yourself (and Ford) too during this difficult time.

    We are your family and are here for you.

  72. Sending your mom and your family my best wishes for a full recovery! My daddy passed away over six years ago and I think about him everyday. I’m well into my forties. Reading this post made me feel closer to him

  73. The best of luck lucky! To you and your family and loved ones. One other thing I would recommend is to not take seriously or at all many of the extremely negative comments that people often post, often for no reason. I’ve been shocked at how incredibly cruel, negative, and irresponsible people can be when posting comments even on fairly innocuous websites. Most of us really do appreciate your comments, your advice and your experience, and Ford’s too! And while many of us don’t speak up often about our appreciation, our continued readership is proof enough of our support. I have learned to tune out those that just want to spew hate and negativity. Life really is too short to pay any attention to those types of people. Too bad there isn’t some island where they can all live in complete dis-harmony mired in their own anger and hate. All our best to you and your family and take the best of care!

  74. You run an awesome blog, Ben. Really hope everything turns out ok with your Mom – she looks like she has a lovely spirit. This post puts things in perspective – at the end of the day, being able to fly first class and stay at hotels with 1000 thread count sheets is pretty small in the grand scheme of it all. People are what really matter.

  75. @CAHBF… Think of it this way. You saved her telling you something that would have been harder for her to ever express… “I love you” in three words is the memory you should take of her and certainly the one she would want you to carry so ditch the regret!

    @Ben Sorry to hear but having survived the big C, what your Mum needs is your positiveness, your love and support and to know that this is not having any NEGATIVE effect on your life. So love big, live well and most importantly check in every moment you can… Bless you both!

  76. There’s no such thing as a good time to get that call. I got it the night before a physics final junior year of college which I promptly proceeded to fail. They gave my mom a couple of weeks, here we are two years later and I’m flying home next week to surprise her for her birthday (shh please don’t tell). All I know is trips like these make me appreciate my miles more than every vacation put together. Stay strong

  77. I wish your mom all the best, Lucky.

    I like your line: “You don’t know what someone is going through at any given point…” It reminds me of something that France’s greatest filmmaker, Jean Renoir, once said: “Everyone has his reasons.”

  78. I’m so sorry to hear that Ben – best wishes for the journey ahead with her. An eloquent post from you.

  79. Alles Gute für deine Mutti!
    Almost losing my partner a few years ago under quite similar circumstances , I cannot agree more with your post.
    Love your loved ones, make sure to spend some quality time with them and try and live your life in a way that gives it meaning.
    All the best to your Mom and your family!

  80. Thank you for the beautiful photo and reflection – brought tears to my eyes. Sending love and strength to your mom and praying for her healing.

  81. Best wishes for your mom’s speedy recovery!

    Thank you for reminding us all of the importance of enjoying every moment we have with our loved ones.

  82. Best wishes to you and your mother Lucky. I recently lost my grandfather in a road accident. Life comes at you fast. Make the most of the moments you have. If your mother is anything like you, she will pull through and will survive this ordeal. Sending lots of love.

  83. Heartbreaking news.But some how your words are heartwarming.Once again you showed you are wiser than your age.You are a very good son.No Doubt.
    A very good comment above there:look what a community you have built.You already got so many wishes prays even hugs.Everything will be fine.

  84. Best wishes. In troubling times, I always find strength in travelling. Currently going to a rough time myself and find that this helps. Big fan of your blog already from the beginning. Hope things will work out for the best for you.

  85. Great text. Just gave some miles for my mother to fly return Sydney- Seoul on Korean Airlines, business class on her birthday. She had a great time and definately well worth it. Good on you!!!!!

  86. Best wishes Ben. I’ll be thinking of you and your family. Dont forget to talk to your brother too. We only have so much family.

    Sending all my love.


  87. Lucky, I want you to know that there have been so many advances in cancer treatment that it’s much more survivable than it was even ten years ago. Some cancers, like melanoma, have a five year survival rate that doesn’t even begin to reflect some major treatments discovered in the last few years, so keep hope. I’m praying for you and your mom.

  88. Ben, for what it’s worth I’ve had two friends diagnosed Stage Four with cancer this past year. Both have made full recoveries and given the all clear. The new drugs are amazing. It’s not to say everyone is that lucky, but I sincerely hope that will be the case for your mum. Good luck.

  89. Lucky thanks for sharing. I’m glad you have been with your mother during this difficult time. Best wishes to your whole family.

  90. Ben – another voice of gratitude here for all you’ve contributed to my travel life. Big hugs to you, your mom, Ford and Winston!

  91. A loving family is one of the elements in the battle. Fortunately she has that on her side.

  92. Ben, i am glad that you are comfortable sharing this with us, and i know perfectly the struggle you are in.

    I lost my mom just last week (a few days before mother’s day), also to cancer. She had breast cancer, which evolved into very agressive form of it and start spreading over to the liver and the lungs, so she didn’t have much of a chance.

    But still, she fought fiercely the whole time. In five years since the first diagnose until her last breath she didn’t give up not for a second, and seeing her strength made me absolutely proud of her. I know that your mom is a very brave woman like mine, and she raised an amazing son. I also know that she wil fight this with all her energy and will get through this as well, she is more resilient than you think, i learned that about my mom as well.

    I know it seem kinda awkward, but if you want someone not close to you to talk about it, my email is at your service!

    Best wishes from the bottom of my heart.

  93. Ben, all of my love and best wishes to you and your family. You brighten the lives of all of your readers with what you do everyday. Good people come in all forms. Don’t underestimate how much joy you bring to strangers who read your blog, and more importantly, don’t underestimate how proud your parents must be of you.

  94. Lucky, I am very sorry to hear about your mom, but hope her fight is successful! I will pray for her and for strength for you.

    You make a good point about not taking your parents for granted. I do a sport-related YouTube channel and just yesterday I saw a Mother’s Day video from a similar vlogger who had lost his mom this past year with the same message: if you still have your parents, tell them you love them. Unfortunately, we could not see my mom on Mother’s Day, but fortunately we are planning a late Mother’s Day on Sunday. I know I have perspective on that.

  95. Sending positive thoughts to you and your family. A cancer diagnosis is terrifying, but medicine has come so far! I have been in remission for 23 years after undergoing a cord blood transplant when chemo didn’t work for my second bout with Leukemia. I was the 250th person in the world to have a cord blood transplant at that point, so it was still pretty experimental. But, here I am in good health overall!

    My best advice:
    1) Stay positive!
    2) Keep being germophobic…your mom’s immune system will be very susceptible to illness.
    3) Be supportive but don’t hover. There are times she may want to be alone.
    4) Be cognizant that chemo has some really powerful effects, and may cause extreme sensitivities to scent, noise, her skin, foods, etc.
    5) Don’t be afraid to question things and ask why something is being done, prescribed, etc.
    6) You can ALWAYS get a second opinion if you’re not confident in the medical care you’re receiving. Trust your gut and do your research!

  96. Ben- I’ll keep you, your family and your Mom in my thoughts and Prayers.

    Thanks for all you do. Your posts are definitely my favorite because their authentic.

    Best of luck!

  97. My heartfelt thoughts are with you guys. You’ve added so much to my life the past few years though your daily posts and I’ll always be grateful to you for them.

  98. Ben — Wishing your mom all the best — your whole family, too. If there’s anything we can do to help, please let us know.

  99. My best wishes to your family and your mother during this difficult time. She will fight it!

  100. Ben, joining others to say thank you for sharing this, and wishing all the best for your mom, you and the rest of your family. Take the time to do what you need to do, and make sure to take care of yourself too!

    My story: it was my bout with cancer that eventually brought me to your blog. In 2012, in the space of six months, my 87 year old mother died after having her leg amputated due to circulation problems (lost her will to live after the surgery & stopped eating, and was ready to join my dad who had died in 2005), and then I was diagnosed with stage 1 ovarian cancer and had surgery & chemo. What I took away from all that is, you never know what life will throw at you, so don’t put things off and enjoy it while you can – and I started traveling more. Three months after finishing chemo I took a solo trip to Montreal. Now six years cancer free!

    With my increased focus on travel I found your blog. I appreciate what you’ve added to my travel knowledge, but it’s your authenticity that makes it my favorite travel blog. Thanks for all you do in creating this community.

  101. Ben,

    I wish you and your family the best through the difficult time.

    This seems like a good moment to share how you have helped my own family.

    My father has been battling pancreatic cancer for 4 years. The fact he is still with us beats all odds, given the fate most face with such a diagnosis.

    But this blog and the tips/tricks I have learned through it have helped him get through the rough chemos, surgeries, and various doctors appointments. How? He always has a trip to look forward to. A new plane, airline, route. It perks him up to look up new adventures we can share and the conversations with him are moments I cherish despite sometimes being held in traditionally grim places, such as the infusion room.

    Again, I wish you the best. If my experience is anything to go by, having you and Ford, and other friends and family, supporting her is the best thing you can do to help her through the treatments to come. She’s lucky (ha) to have a son like you.

    F*** cancer.

  102. To your question: “I have to admit that I’m not really religious, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder why any higher power or creator or spontaneously created universe would let science act in this way.” Depending on what you believe there are multiple ways to answer this question. The idea that if someone believes in God or a higher power that bad things shouldn’t happen is a misnomer. There are no guarantees that only good things will come to those who believe. The idea is that through believing you can bear what does come and know that good things in life happen too and that love triumphs over everything. Andy Stanley, a non-denominational preacher and one of the best communicators living today says it so well here:

    Lucky, your parents are just as fortunate (couldn’t say “lucky!”) to have you as their son as you are to have them as your parents. When the street runs both ways everyone is better for it. Soak up all the time you can right now and keep giving her hope. The doctors and her body will take care of the rest. Cancer is a real son of a b!tch- it’s sole purpose is to take everything it can. We’re all sending positive thoughts to your mom for a healthy recovery. God’s speed!

  103. Wishing your mom all the best Ben. Thanks for sharing this and stay strong Ben. Warm thoughts from good old Deutschland.

  104. Sending healing thoughts your mom’s way. Maybe your “balancing work and life” all happened for a reason, so you could be there to support her during this time.

    Nicely written post also.

  105. Best of wishes Ben to you and your family. We are all here with you. We aren’t just readers of your blog, we are all a little family with you!

  106. On behalf of everyone at TPG we are sending you and your mom all of our best wishes as she kicks cancer’s ass!

  107. I read your blog every single day, but comment only once in a great while. This heartfelt post deserves more than a comment. It deserves what you have already received from hundreds of your readers. It deserves our best thoughts and prayers for the fight up ahead your Mom will undergo. I’m in the middle of something similar. My dad is fighting Stage 4, prostate cancer. He’s still alive after receiving his diagnosis a year and a half ago. Life has gotten considerably more complicated since I live in L.A. and he resides in Europe. Knowing how to use points & miles to maximum efficiency has been a true blessing and for that I have you to thank. Now, the going may get tough for your Mom at some point, so steel yourself and be the strong son she knows you are. I’m confident your mom will make it through and will emerge stronger from the fight. One small piece of advice is to carve out time for yourself and your marriage. This can happen and it won’t do anyone any good, especially your Mom who will need a cheerful presence in the dark moments. Chemo is a b*tch. So I’m sending my very best wishes that your mom has to undergo few chemo sessions, that her treatment is successful, and that the cancer goes into remission and eventually she’s cancer free. Much love to you and your family.

  108. Many thanks Ben for sharing your thoughts; so true. I sincerely wish your lovely Mother a speedy return to full health. You’re a terrific son in looking after her wellbeing. Though my parents have departed, I still miss both very much and think of them often. Keep up the great blog; always timely and especially interesting!

  109. Praying for you and your mother Ben. Just be present as much as you can, I’m sure that will mean a lot to her. Also distracting both you and her while she goes through this process might be helpful, doing a fun activity or watching Netflix together, anything to get your mind off of the situation. God bless you and your family, thanks for sharing!

  110. A beautiful post, Ben. You are very loved and a good son. I wish the best for your mom and your family.

  111. My thoughts are with you and your family as your mother takes on this challenge. Moffitt Cancer Center is well regarded so you can be confident she is getting good care there (and with your help if a second opinion might be helpful you are in a position to relocate her to Anderson or Sloan Kettering). I think too of your dad, who must be devastated by this and also needing your love and support as he assumes the role of caregiver. I know you have been instrumental in helping your parents as they have aged, so am confident your mom has been receiving regular ongoing care by a highly regarded medical team, so hopefully they have caught this at an early stage.

  112. So sorry to hear about your Mom’s cancer, Lucky. She should definitely be your first priority at this time. There are some very effective treatments out there these days and you have every reason to be hopeful. Enjoy the time you have together…my Mom passed in 2002 and I miss her every day. Thanks for sharing this with your readers.

  113. So sorry to hear your news, thank you for sharing such a difficult time with us. My thoughts are with you, your Mom & your Family. She has a long road ahead, as a Family you all do, but it sounds like she is in the right place with a good medical team around her & it really is excellent that they reacted so quickly & she has started her treatment. Sending positive thoughts & sincere best wishes to you all. My Mum is the same as yours, seems to be handling everything & admirably strong…but probably scared & crumbling inside, just not wanting to worry you all. Try to keep some “normality” of your everyday life because it really will help her try to function normally (although you will feel far from “normal”, more like you are in a fog & you’ll have to appear to be strong for her & those around you). You may have guessed, I’ve been through something similar with my Father & my Mum is going through some major health issues too at the moment.
    I am currently working on the other side of the world in Australia, I’m possibly here for a few years, I only get home once, or if I’m lucky sometimes twice a year because it’s so darn expensive to get the flights to Europe. I miss my Family terribly, they know this & they know I love them, we talk on the phone 3 or 4 times a week (I at least managed to negotiate a good international phone package so I knew I could still talk to them!) Although it’s difficult, especially on certain days, I aim to keep a sense of normality for everyone, but I admit I worry about my Parents every day & although I don’t want to concern them with appearing to fret their health is always in the back of my mind. I’m a positive person, I’m the one everyone else in the Family thinks copes with everything but I’m in a catch 22 situation, I have to be here, but the “what if” scenarios whizz around my mind frequently. This is important…PLEASE look after yourself too, you need to be as physically, mentally & emotionally fit as you can be for yourself & everybody else, but especially for your Mom. I know work will keep your mind somewhat occupied, however as some of the other posts have said, do not worry about us, we all totally understand & will be here waiting when you return. Give your Mom a huge hug or if you are not physically near her at the moment call her & give her a “verbal hug” trust me, they are extremely powerful too!

  114. The most important job anyone will ever have is to provide as a caregiver for someone that they love! And everyone gets hired for this job sooner or later!

  115. Ben, sending my thoughts and prayers to you and your family. My mother had cancer and went through chemo and made a full recovery. The same for my aunt. So cancer can be beaten especially if caught early and treated. I always make sure to tell my mom and family that I love them after I lost my father suddenly and didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. We all only have limited time on this earth. You have to live each moment as much as possible and share your love. Hang in there.

  116. I know you are not religious, but I would like to include her in our prayers.
    May we know her first name?
    Only if you are comfortable with our strange faith based stuff.

  117. Sending you and your family much love Ben. You can never spend too much time with your parents. Life is short so enjoy every minute together. ❤️

  118. Hats off to your Mom chemo is great for the cancer but not so much for MOm !!but it can get her her life back!!My Mom went thru 2 breast cancers ..the fort 45 years ago..and it still healthy and 93!!!

  119. Lucky, best wishes to your mum. My mum lived 13 years after a cancer diagnosis and mastectomy although the end came when she was still a young 71. We are all human beings aren’t we in the OMAAT fellowship despite the occasional bad temper! You did not seem worried about insurance in crazy America, so I trust your mum was covered, thank goodness. Some families are bankrupted by looking after an ill member; how bizarre is that in the world’s richest country?! Let’s hope Bernie comes to power in ’20, not corporate Biden nor the wingnut currently occupying the WH.

  120. Sending healing energy to your mom and a dose of good karma as well. Thanks for this meaningful post.

  121. Back in 2006, after about 3 years of struggling with pain at multiple doctors, I was finally diagnosed with stage 3c testicular cancer. I had listened to my body for a long time, but doctors weren’t picking up on the signs. Here it is coming up on 13 years later (12 cancer free!) and I consider myself very lucky. I wouldn’t wish chemo on my worst enemy but I’d do it all over again if I had to.

    Your mother listened to her body, and the doctors found it quickly. Her attitude will carry her through almost anything, and the love of her family can carry her through the rest. Be strong for her, and she’ll be in my thoughts along with you and Ford and the rest of your families. <3

  122. So very sorry to learn of your Mom’s diagnosis. And so grateful for your willingness to share with the OMAAT community.
    Thinking of you, Ford, and Winston and hoping earnestly for your Mom to beat this cancer quickly and completely!

  123. Ben
    We will pray for your moms recovery. Love her video wherein she said a man stole her money and Passport somewhere in a foreign country. She is very brave indeed. I would suggest if she could change her diet to raw vegetables and fruits and avoid raw meat till cancer is cancelled.

  124. As someone who has worked in healthcare for 25 years, count me David McDonald +1!
    I also don’t care about how religious you might or might not be, I will keep your lovely mother in my prayers!
    Right now there are four people that will need special care, that will be your mother, your father (how long have they been married?) who must be as terrified at hearing this as you, your spouse Ford and most of all YOU! Each one will need special attention.
    You have always struck me as someone who always “needs” to know! Take time off and learn as much as you can. The blog will survive! You have a great and talented team who will step to the plate for you as you would for them! Wasn’t there talk about expanding the team? Stop and smell the damn roses!
    It broke my heart to read the second post in this string!
    To Cahbf: my condolences for your loss. Keep in your heart that she loved you and made sure you knew!
    To AAinHK: kudos to you!
    Ben, hang in there you have many in this community that have your back. We are always here if you need us. Share when you need to.
    Take it from David Mc Donald and myself, two old folks, take the time. You can thank us later!

  125. Ben, first of all, best wishes to your mom and your entire family. Cancer is tough. My father-in-law completed cancer treatment a little over a year ago, though his type of cancer required receiving treatment at one of two facilities in the U.S. As a result, he and my mother-in-law spent six months in Seattle for his treatment. My wife spent about 7 weeks total throughout that time assisting them as much as she could. And while he’s cancer-free today, his type of cancer will come back in the future.

    So, we too have learned the important lesson of cherishing time spent with loved ones and to make time to do so as much as possible.

  126. Beautiful sharing, Ben. Thank you for this powerful reminder that life and family are the most precious gifts we have. I’d been thru this same thing with my Mom, now a number of years ago. One night, late, I called her with my young daughter and we said I love you. Those were the last words I got to tell her as she passed the next day.

    So as one mom to another, please, if you will, give your mom a big hug from me and I know she’ll do great.

  127. Ben, best wishes to your entire family! I wish and pray for a speedy recovery for your mother.

  128. Dear Lucky,
    I was shocked to hear about your Mom’s health issue. As a physician I wholeheartedly recommend to find the best cancer specialist and follow the treatment protocols.
    I will pray for your Mom’s recovery.
    She should be proud of you…..

  129. @Lucky. Thinking of you. You’ve clearly been a great son and you’re right that you can never do enough for your parents. I lost my parents in 2004 and 2007 and then my wife to an accident at the age of 53 in 2015. You’re right that you never know what the people around you are going through. My anniversary was last week and I was cranky AF with everyone at work. They weren’t quite sure why, but they were patient with me.

    I still feel like I didn’t do enough for my parents while they were ill. So, if your instinct says to stay with your mom, stay with her and help her get well. Keep your parents and Ford close… you’re lucky to have them and it’s good you know that.

  130. Hi Ben,
    I’ve enjoyed reading you for years. Thank you so much for sharing this part of your life, and you encapsulated in this so many wonderful life perspectives. I wish your mom the best for a full and speedy recovery. I’ll be praying for your mom and your entire family.
    Warmest regards,

  131. Ben, Best wishes to your Mum &, hopefully, her complete recovery. Also, thinking of you, your Dad & other family members at this stressful time

  132. Not the sort of news that any of us want to hear but thanks for sharing. Strength and supportive thoughts to you all during this difficult period and hopes that your Mum pulls through.

  133. I will keep your mom in my thoughts and send her all the love she needs for a speedy recovery!

  134. Ben:

    I hope that you and your family are able to derive at least a little solace from the expressions of comfort and well-wishing that you are receiving from people far and wide. It does say something about the human family. It also says something about the positive power of the internet. A child of the 60s, I wish you peace and love.

  135. Ben,
    I am so sorry to hear about Mother but by the photo you can tell she is a strong happy no matter what kind of person. And it would seem that you are well loved, I have never seen so many responses! It says much about you and your parents. Since I have been reading your notes fro m Lo these many years ago and we’ll be for OMAAT, I have always had a good feeling knowing I “sort of knew you” !
    Will be thinking of you and your wonderful pretty Mom.

  136. Can’t wish your mom (and you) the very best enough.

    Lost a best friend aged just 64 to the Big C back in the winter – diagnosis of a non-curable case to funeral took only a shocking 3 weeks.

    I wish a much better result for your mom, and years more happy life in Tampa.

    Hang in there, Lucky.

  137. Dear Ben,

    best wishes and prayers from another long time reader
    ( we are talking diet Coke times).
    Gute Besserung !

  138. All the best for you and your mom. She will for sure fight and win this battle. I am sure she is in great hands but in case you want you should check the doctors at Mayo Clinic. They are fantastic and have a clinic in Jacksonville.

  139. Ben, I am so sorry to hear about your Mom, but glad to hear she has started treatments and has you and Ford in her life to show support and love.

  140. I am very sorry to hear your news – and also the timing of your news. Next month, at just 47 years old, I will be celebrating 13 years as a cancer survivor. To make a long story as short as I can – I got lucky (no pun intended). I had good insurance and good doctors. In the end, I had a bad summer – far less than the community of cancer survivors I have come to know and love. Upon hearing another close friend’s diagnosis, I wrote a piece for him that I have shared and received excellent positive response – even from clergymen. If this can help your family, or any of your readers, I am happy to share it here with you –

    Peace and love sent your family’s way.

  141. I’m proud to join this very long list of OMAAT friends in wishing you well. It’s great you’ve built this on your own and show your appreciation to your family and to us on a regular basis.

  142. Ben, it’s lucky and shows your character that you dropped everything else and flew to be with your Mom. Our Moms take care of us in so many ways from birth and it is an honor to be able to return the love.

    From our family to yours, we wish you all the best for her full recovery and many years of love to come.

  143. thanks for sharing this Lucky, best of luck to your mom and to all of you who are her loved ones, I lost my dad to colon cancer seven years ago, I have been donating to a number of organizations that fund cancer research, since this is a points and miles blog, I felt like I should mention that there is one that helps you fund research, and earn insane amounts of airline miles!


  144. Hi Ben,
    I am a new reader, and I know how difficult this must be. Never miss a chance to tell mom how much you love her. She sounds exactly like the patient who will face this challenge head on. I helped my amazing siblings care for our mom through her treatment and challenges. As a result of that experience, I decided to switch into nursing. The most important thing for you is to take care of yourself then care for your mom. All of my positive thoughts and energy for you your mom and the entire family! Good luck,
    Ray M.

  145. I know the feeling, I wish your mother and you the best. Stay strong and positive. My mom lost our fight the last new year after one year of fight. I live in Oslo and she lived in Peru, I think that was the hardest part of this. Stay so long doesn’t let me visited her as often as I wanted, but thanks to the technology we could talk and see each other by camera. She never sow me sad or cry, but I promise you I did, many times. Now she rest in peace, and I learn so much with this, you can not imagine. As you say, life is cruel, be kind, life is short enjoy it, show the love the ones you love. Good luck in this journey and see this like an apportunity to learn more about people and life.

  146. @Lucky – I had read this post back in May and had not given much thought to it. Then recently, I read your post about the race. Just 2 days ago my mom was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. Unlike you however, I am not with her as she is in a different country 8k miles away. The last 2 days have been a roller coaster of emotions – shock, sadness, worry. But with all the advances in medicine, I am hoping that she is able to fight back and live a few more years. I will be visiting her shortly – I just wanted to write in and offer support (as a fellow child whose mother has been diagnosed with cancer). Hang in there.

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