Solve It 7: Sea Cruise Blues

HAVERHILL, MASS. (WHDH) - Sometimes a vacation is about more than just enjoying some fun in the sun.

“We were moving past the second time he was diagnosed and heading toward remission,” says Haverhill resident Mariah Dodge about her fiance Christopher Smith. “And we planned a cruise.”

For Chris and Mariah, this was going to be their big celebration after Chris’s battle with a familiar foe: sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma, a rare cancer of the nasal cavity.

Chris, also of Haverhill, was first diagnosed when he was just 14 years old. He beat it thanks to surgery, radiation treatments and chemotherapy, but back in March of last year, 12 years after his first battle, the cancer came back.

“It was in the same exact spot,” says Chris.

Chris fought and won again, so in September with his cancer in remission, the couple booked their Caribbean cruise to celebrate. It was supposed to be their first vacation as an engaged couple without other family members.

They were booked to set sail in January, but a couple of weeks before their planned departure, they got more bad news.

“I found out it had come back,” says Chris.

This time, the cancerous legions were in Chris’s brain, which required a new treatment plans and a big change to their travel plans.

“I had asked all of my doctors,” Chris says about the planned vacation. “I was trying to find a way to go on it…every one of them said, ‘No.'”

Chris contacted Carnival Cruise Line to cancel the trip and get his money back, nearly $2,000. Despite having notes from his doctors, Chris says the best Carnival would do was offer a 50% credit and the couple had to use it within a year. That would be tough with Chris’s ongoing cancer treatments and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m still going to be going [to treatment] for another year, possibly year and a half depending on what happens,” Chris says.

Looking for help, the couple turned to Solve It 7.

We contacted Carnival Cruise Line and explained Chris’s situation. The representative promised to look into the case immediately. Chris heard back from them a couple of hours later.

“They reviewed my case and they wanted to extend this one-time courtesy of a 100% credit to be used within two years,” Chris says.

It was a big relief for Chris and Mariah. While they still have a long battle ahead of them, they can’t wait to set sail on their Caribbean adventure.

“We’ll be sitting on a beach and we can cheers, drink and know that he’s healthy and we finally got to go on vacation,” Mariah says.

“Thank you to Solve It 7,” says Chris. “They’re going to be able to make us have a great vacation.

Chris received his final round of chemotherapy a few weeks ago and his scans are looking good. He’s now getting immunotherapy and doctors are hopeful this will keep the cancer away for good.

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