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Ask Dave

Take A Vacation With Limits

Monica's youngest child has leukemia. Her daughter wants to go on vacation. Should Monica and her husband go ahead and do that for her?

QUESTION: Monica in Lexington and her husband became completely debt-free earlier this year. Two months after that, they discovered their youngest child had leukemia. They took $15,000 out of their emergency fund and placed it into a medical fund. They’ve been building up both funds, and their sick daughter wants to go on vacation. Should they go ahead and do that for her?

ANSWER: There are two or three things that affect you. One is inconveniences like hair and vacations. The other one is that you lose your life. That’s what I’m trying to get to the bottom of here. I just did a thing with the AFLAC cancer center in Atlanta, and I was able to tour that. They were telling me there at that center—and you’ve probably read and become an expert on this—that childhood leukemia is the number one cancer of children, and the healing rate is anywhere from 85-95% now.

Here’s the reason I’m asking all of these questions. There’s no possible way we’re going on vacation and spend the money that would’ve saved her life. That’s just a ridiculous scenario. We’re not even going to have that scenario. What I probably would do is this, and I’m a dad. I remember five-year-olds. We never went through what you’ve been through, and I can’t imagine how scared you are and how angry you get and all those kinds of things that you do when you go through this. We’ve certainly had friends and team members who have fought this back. I was impressed when I visited that cancer center that the success rate—even though the process to become a success is hell, but you do win—is very high.

I think there’s a part of all of us that wants to grant her this wish. You’ve got to do that in a responsible way. Maybe while we’re taking a trip to Dallas, we go to Six Flags for two days while we’re already there instead of the traditional vacation for five days somewhere. Why don’t we tack it on to the back or the front of a trip you’ve got to make anyway? My memory of five-year-olds is they don’t have a good judge of time. To her, a two- or three-day vacation might feel like an adult taking a two-week vacation if we made a big deal about it being a vacation. We’re not going to lose the house because we took the five-year-old on vacation.

Your husband needs to get on the same page with you. That’s part of you guys fighting this battle—this cancer battle—is also fighting the financial battle. He needs to be looking at these numbers with you in detail. He needs to be emotionally carrying the finances with you.

I would do a little vacation, and I would tack it on the end. I would make such a big deal about it that she thought she went on a two-week European cruise. That way, we get all things covered. But there’s a lot of other things in this discussion that honestly are more important. I’m more concerned about this baby than I am this baby’s feelings.