My story: Battling illness away from home

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My husband was suffering from prostate cancer which had spread to the bone. An opportunity was given to him to become part of a trial program for a new treatment, which was being held in San Francisco. We flew to San Francisco.

The medical testing was done on Sept. 10. We were booked on a return flight to PDX on Sept. 11. It was a mid-afternoon flight.

We awoke early to pack and leave the hotel. When we turned on the TV, we saw that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Like most Americans, we believed that it was an accident and were shocked when we saw the 2nd plane hit the towers.

We checked out of the hotel, hailed a cab, and made a final visit to the medical office that was conducting the medical trial. There was a TV in the waiting room and everyone was paying great attention to the news coverage. I made a comment about flying home in a few hours. Several people stated that we wouldn't be flying anywhere, that all planes were grounded.

I hurriedly called the hotel to see if we could get back into the hotel. We were told that the hotel was sold out, but if our room had not been made up, we could get our room back. Since my husband was seriously ill, I had to get a room for him. After a long wait, I was told that we could check back into our "old" room. We completed the medical visit and took a cab back to the hotel and once again, checked in.

The next day, Sept. 12, we kept calling the airlines only to find out that the planes were still grounded. The following day, Sept. 13, was also a no fly day. As was Sept. 14. On Sept. 15, the airline thought that planes might be able to fly, but they weren't sure if it would happen and if it did, which planes would go.

My husband was in extreme pain and I had to get him home. I decided to rent a car and drive him back to Vancouver, even though the trip would be a long, difficult one for him. I was lucky enough to secure a rental car reservation via the telephone. My husband and I took a cab to the rental car office, and waited a couple of hours in line. It was interesting to hear of the destinations that people were traveling: Florida, Ohio, Las Vegas, Seattle, New York, and Oklahoma City.

We finally reached the front of the line and obtained a car for our drive to PDX. It was almost humorous to see the license plates of the cars while driving north into Oregon. They (including ours) all had California plates.

Due to my husband's medical condition, it was a tough trip to PDX. We arrived at 2 a.m. But when we drove in the parking lot to change luggage into our personal car, we found that our car was gone. As were all of the cars that were parked closer to the airport entrance. I left my husband in the car and set out walking throughout the parking lot searching for our car. I finally found it. Seems all of the cars that were parked within so many yards of the entrance were towed to another spot in the parking lot.

I drove our car to where we parked the rental car, transferred our personal belongings and my husband, turned in the rental car, and drove home to Vancouver, arriving about 4:30 a.m. Due to the concern for all and a sense of unity, Avis did not charge me for the rental car, and PDX did not charge me for the parking charge.

Unfortunately, my husband passed away 3-1/2 months later.