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The cruise ship I worked for was a small cruise line that travels the rivers within the United States.  We had about 100 employees on board at any given time and we lost about 25 employees every week - most of them walking off and quitting.  We constantly were hiring and hired about 15 new employees each week.  I actually met my Brazilian friend on the cruise ship.  We noticed each other when she first came on board (I had already been working there for some time) and quickly made a connection.  She hated the job and she wanted to quit early on - but I got her to stay for about three months.  She wanted me to walk off with her - but around that same time frame, I was promoted and making more than double what I was before - so I didn't leave right away.  She didn't have enough money for an airline ticket, so I let her use 25k of my frequent flier miles on American Airlines to get her to Miami - business class.  

The cruise ship was good pay, but the company was sketchy.  It had horrible business practices, didn't treat employees well, and had significant money troubles.  The 'contract' whenever you sign on with the company, they told you that you would work 6 weeks on the boat, then off for 3 weeks (without pay).  Some were told you work 8 weeks on the boat, then off for 4 weeks (without pay).  Which would have been wonderful if that was true.  However, the fact of the matter was they couldn't keep any staff, and had rampant turnover.  So, 6 weeks or 8 weeks on the boat - turned into 6 months to 8 months on the boat working everyday - Sunday through Saturday, 14 - to - 16 hour days - and never being able to leave the boat.  Many of the vendors who provided services for the boat would call and/or come on board when we were in their city and demand payment for services provided months ago.  After calling our headquarters, we discovered that they were picking and choosing which of the bills to pay - and would only pay ones that were absolutely required (paychecks, food for the boat, and gas for the boat) or creditors threatening lawsuits.

I have had many jobs, working in the financial industry, insurance (general agency), hospitality, travel agent, cruise ships, airlines, theme parks, retail, food, healthcare, ministry, IT specialist, and many others.  Out of all of them, I would have to say this cruise ship was the worst! I left a really great job in healthcare to join the cruise ship and it was probably one of the worst decisions I've made in my life.  I realized this was a mistake from the first day I stepped onto the cruise ship - and saw first hand of their rampant turnover, unethical business practices, and complete lack of empowerment.

Now that I broke it off with my Brazilian friend, and now getting ready to spend a week visiting my folks.  My dad's cancer was real, the diagnosis was real - and according to everyone in the medical field - this cancer he has is a 2 year cancer.  If he has already had it for a year and a half like they say, then we only have about 6 months.

If I went back to the boat, I would easily be on the boat for another 3 - to - 6 months.  I haven't spent any time with my parents in years.  I haven't seen them in years.  I have lived in almost every state within the United States - and have traveled.  I didn't want to not be there for them now.  While, I know we haven't always got along, I do love them - they are still family.

I quit my job - and cashed out my return plane ticket. 

It's been a couple years now, and it's really hard to watch someone you love dying with cancer (or any terminal illness - I imagine).  I have so many emotions going through me - so much anger, frustration, hurt, so much I wish he would have taught me.  So much I wish he would have shared with me about money - about women - about family - about life.  My parents kept me so sheltered growing up - that I learned a lot about life the hard way  (I went to a private bible college after high school - which was actually more of a bubble than living with my parents) - and many things about life I didn't learn until I was twenty.

I don't ever mention these things to anyone.  There's nothing that can change the past.  I am really just trying to be there for them now - and make the most of each day.  But it is really hard to watch someone you love dying from cancer.

I do all the yard work, chores, and repairs around their house.  And while I still have much of that money from when I was working on the boat, I also do a lot of side jobs for extra income.  Starting in the new year I will begin working full time again, which I am really looking forward to returning to the workforce. 

I made plans to return because my dad seemed to being doing better.  But, with some of the most recent chemo and radiation treatments within the last couple weeks - he has taken a sudden turn for the worse and is in more pain and is looking much worse than ever before.  It concerns me a great deal because I really think this may be the final several days/weeks/months at this point.  The cancer has now spread to five more areas in his body and he mostly just takes pain medications and sleep throughout each day.  My mom's health isn't that great either - she has some heart issues and has to take several medications a day.

It's hard to believe that I am here - and have stayed here this long.  I never thought I would return here, but I've learned some from being here and helping them during this time.

Cancer sucks!

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