Cissy Carroll, pictured here in Chiangmai, Thailand, found that she and her family could be more of themselves when they traveled. Photo courtesy of the Carroll family.

Taking the Trip

Travel offers motivation and solace to young families facing terminal cancer

By Krisha Chachra

When Cissy Carroll received the news in October 2015 that she had Stage 4 lung cancer that had metastasized to her brain, her doctors told her there was less than a 1% chance she’d live past five years. She had given birth to her son only four months earlier, and suddenly the determination to survive eclipsed the joy of being a new mom.

“When you learn you have limited time on Earth, you go through a lot of overwhelming feelings,” says Jason Carroll, Cissy’s husband. Cissy began treatment, starting with amino therapy and then chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the tumors continued growing.

“[Cissy] had over 50 tumors in her brain,” Jason says. “We share a strong faith, and we decided to live life to the fullest and travel.” Nearly eight years after her original diagnosis, Cissy has defied long odds, but her doctors noticed the main tumor in her brain has grown.

She and her family have started the Take The Trip Foundation, an organization that aims to send young families impacted by terminal illnesses on one special adventure together, all expenses paid. “That means we eventually want to offer qualified families — as many as 50 a year — not only the transportation and the accommodations on a trip but also help them plan and pack if needed,” Jason says.

The name “Take The Trip” comes from a motto Cissy lives by: “Take the trip, buy the shoes, eat the cake.” Cissy believes people shouldn’t wait until they are given an expiration date to really start living.

“Travel has been the best medicine for me. It gave me something to look forward to and recharged me for the energy needed to face the next round of testing,” Cissy says. “Travel has been important to my family, and I wanted to give that experience to others.”

“There are adventures to be had everywhere, and I’m not going to let cancer get in the way of that.” — Maggie Fogel, pictured here with her husband in Arizona. Photo courtesy of Maggie Fogel.

Common Bonds and Gaining Peace

Maggie Fogel, a South Charlotte resident diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017 before it metastasized to her lungs in 2021, believes traveling has made her feel better than she ordinarily would have after all her treatments.

“I’ve been to more places in one year than I have in the last five since I was diagnosed,” Fogel says. “And I’ve discovered my limits were not what I thought they were. My treatments cause my body to hurt, and I’m so tired, but I traveled to Costa Rica and hiked up a waterfall. I never thought I could do that.”

Before her diagnosis, Fogel didn’t make traveling a priority. She and her husband visited Thailand on their honeymoon and said they would continue exploring the world, but life and kids got in the way. When she received the unexpected news that her cancer had spread to her lungs, she tabled her career and focused on giving herself the best chance.

“I researched and found groups to build a community with. Then I found MBC Travelers, started by Jennifer Pace in Florida. [Jennifer] wanted to travel with other women who were going through metastatic breast cancer,” Fogel says. “I leaned in and signed up for a trip to Key West in July 2022.”