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October 2009
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…The Road Less Traveled by Natalie Unga continued

October 19, 2009   

Freedom to Travel

I finished my last session of chemotherapy at the end of May and on June 4th I was on an airplane to New York. It was as if the doctor said, “No more chemo,” and I said,”Then I am out of here.” I had felt so confined for so long that the freedom of being able to travel was exhilarating. My incredible boyfriend decided I needed a pick me up from the last five months and so we planned a trip to New York and Georgia. These two states were significant because I served a mission for my church in New York and he served his mission in Georgia. The trip was one of extreme emotion and a lot of traveling.


We spent the first day in New York City and my favorite part was a ferry over to the Statue of Liberty. After one day there, we flew to upstate New York where we visited many historical sites. I had been a missionary in these places and was given the honor of taking tours through the sites. To be back in those places where I could feel a strong peace and spirit, was a soothing treatment for me.

We went to Fairport, Newark, Palmyra, Fayette, Niagara Falls, and Buffalo. We then flew back to New York City where our flight took us to Georgia. From Atlanta we drove to Augusta, then on to Statesboro, Savannah, Alma, Cordele, Columbus, Warner Robbins and back to the airport.

The scenery was beautiful. We experienced good southern hospitality and no one even knew I was wearing a wig! With all that traveling, you would think that I was traveled out. But the very day I landed from my trip, I was back on a plane, this time to Hawaii.

This trip was not a vacation; this trip was my Graduation. We arrived in Hawaii and I got chills as I felt the warm sun and could smell the sweet scent of the island. Memories began to flood my mind of so many precious moments I had spent here. I had not see my friends, professors or even old roommates that I never had a chance to say goodbye. This trip would bring the closure I needed to move forward.


The reunions were endless and everyone was so surprised to see me. I cried a lot and hugged and kissed a lot. I realized how many friends I truly had within Brigham Young University Hawaii. I tried to catch up on the details of the last six months and yet so much had happened it seemed impossible. I gave continuous thanks for the support and love I had been given.

June 19, 2004, the day of graduation, was such a memorable day for me. I was emotional from the beginning. The moment I stepped up on the stage and my name was called over the microphone, I knew I had taken a huge leap to get here.

President Shumway handed me my diploma and tears streamed down my face. The choir sang, “You Raise Me Up,” by Josh Groban, and I really cried then as I thought of all the people who had raised me up to help me get to graduation. The traditions of Hawaii make graduation a celebration of love.

After the ceremony we stepped outside and were showered with leis from all of our friends and loved ones. I could now say goodbye to Hawaii and leave feeling complete.

To be continued…

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