“Upgraded to C” takes on new meaning

This is an unusual trip to San Francisco. 

Normally the beauty of the city would keep us up, ‘til late at night, staring out the window at city lights. These high rise nights connect us as humans with shared stories and ideas and all the creativity that happens when you are in the center of a million busy bodies and the energy pulsates through your brain from kinetic energy vibrations and you are seated in the window of a 34th floor view room gazing out on one of the most beautiful cities of the world.

The 20th of January is what we had waited for over eight interminable bushwhacked years.  The day was the start of a new beginning. 

Change is on the agenda.

My wife received the call on Tuesday afternoon, January 20, 2009. She had undergone a routine medical annual physical the week before.  Overhearing her on the phone I knew what she had been told.

Off the phone she said to me, “I have cancer.”

Change is on the agenda.

This is an unusual trip to San Francisco. 

Last month we celebrated the first weekend of the new year in San Francisco with a Friday night concert of the Wailers in a rocking reggae show.  We felt positive vibrations hanging with a longtime friend who had accompanied my wife and I on our first date at a Black Uhuru reggae show in Santa Cruz way back in 1982. We reminisced while luxuriating, before and after the show, in a hotel suite at the Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf.  Times had changed.  We are so much older, yet so much the same.

Three weeks ago Monday, K and I celebrated 20 years of marriage.  We like to laugh when telling others we spent seven years together before I decided that marriage was in order since we had passed the statistical half-life of marriage. In the late 80s, half of married couples divorced by seven years. I have always been a statistics geek.   

We married on the last day of the Reagan presidency, hallelujah.  We celebrated our 20th anniversary on the last day of being Bush-whacked.  Or so we thought.

Twenty years and one day of our married life together and the TV celebration was awe-inspiring as Obama was inaugurated, and bands played on the National Mall. 

 Then the news came to our little home in Monterey, California. 

An upgrade to C class is normally frequent flyer speak for a business class international flight upgrade.  We celebrate a C upgrade as another victory in the frequent flyer game.

An upgrade to C class takes on an entirely more sobering meaning when the C upgrade means your tumor is not benign, but instead is cancerous.

Today, my wife is in the Geary Street San Francisco Kaiser hospital to determine the extent of the tumor.  The tests so far have been positively hopeful results.  The procedures today are the final ones before the surgeon decides the next course of action. 

There have been challenges in our lives– just like everyone must face.  And as often is the case, it is only when we experience the challenges ourselves that we finally comprehend and reach out to others for assistance, help, support, comfort, and advice.  We are lucky to have families and friends.

Family and friends show their true colors at times like these.  Powerful thoughts of healing have come from so many people and it feels wonderful to know there are others thinking and praying and whatever good thoughts and actions people share to help others. 

Statistically, K has a 95% chance of five year survival if her tumor is Stage 1.  She has a 40% probability of being dead in 5 years if she is in Stage 2.  It has been three weeks and we still don’t know what stage her cancer is in.  Hopefully we will receive the diagnosis this week.

Change is on the agenda.


p.s. The test results from yesterday indicated the tumor is Stage 1 and may possibly only require surgery. 

Statistically, this is excellent news.


Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay

I drove us home via Highway 1 coast road from San Francisco to Santa Cruz and Monterey.  The day was gorgeous.  We stopped at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay for lunch.

“Ain’t it funny how you’re walking through life and it turns on a dime”

            “The Wildest Times of the World”

          Vonda Shepard

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. Ric,

    Glad to hear the diagnosis was not worse. My wife and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary this year as well (after “only” 5 years together) so I am thinking about how we might react to such an unwelcome change in our lives.

    From your blog, I can see how you’ve made lemonade from lemons (chopping up business travel away into multiple 1 night stays to get extra bonus points for nice vacations together), and I’m sure you both are now looking at how maximize your time together regardless of how tests pan out. All the best to you and K.

  2. Ric —

    I too was relieved to hear that the diagnosis is not worse. I wish you and your wive all the best in this time of crisis.

    You are in my prayers,

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