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My Unexpected Caregivers

Adventurer C

The following story was written by Southwest Customer J Michael


In May 2005, I was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer called Mantle Cell lymphoma. I sought medical assistance on a local level in Columbus, OH, where I quickly learned that Mantle Cell's victims had a mortality rate of about three years. Because of this cancer's rarity, all local facilities seemed to lack the vision to help me survive. I sought another option. In September of that year, I booked my first flight to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston. Admittedly, I was overwhelmed! A terminal diagnosis coupled with a 1,200-mile journey with hope of staying alive is challenging! The following month I began treatment at Anderson with continued treatment locally. I routinely flew to Texas for checkups, testing, and monitoring.


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Throughout my frequent trips to and from Houston, I quickly adjusted to the air traveler’s learning curve, and wised up. I began arranging my own travel and decided to fly exclusively with Southwest Airlines. Since my first Southwest flight in 2007, I have racked up nearly 500,000 Rapid Rewards points and have made as many as five round trip flights to Houston within a month. Following my stem cell transplant over the summer of 2015, an around-the-clock caregiver was required. Again, Southwest rose to the occasion! The five individuals who took shifts as my caregivers flew in from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. I arranged all flights into and out of Hobby, and everyone arrived and returned, with Southwest never missing a beat. I finally made my way home to Columbus in October, marking my 95th Southwest flight.


Cancer is a rough, rough road, and caregivers are met not only along that road, but even in the sky. Southwest Employees became a valuable part of my caregiving team. As a cancer patient, most things in my life were out of my control, including my travel schedule. Time and time again, Southwest showed me the compassion Customers of other airlines could only dream of. From pre-dawn flights for that mid-morning appointment to accommodating flight changes due to unforeseen circumstances, it’s always been reassuring that Southwest has my back. It’s been a 12-and-a-half-year journey, and I am happy to say I am in steady remission. I will need to return to Houston for regular checkups, and I’m to have an airline that is there for me when I do. Thanks for the LUV, Southwest!