San Jose

Woman With Cancer Removed From Flight Donates Airline Money for Myeloma Research

A woman with cancer who was removed from a flight to San Jose because a flight attendant thought she might be too weak announced she'd be donating the airline's apology money to the fight against multiple myeloma.

Elizabeth Sedway posted a Facebook message about 11 a.m. Wednesday from San Jose — indicating she had landed from Hawaii — saying that there is a "silver lining" in being removed from an Alaskan Airlines flight on Monday. "We plan to donate the airfare, to be refunded by Alaska Airlines to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation," she wrote. "In the future, we hope this airline will look at the events of this kind with increased wisdom and sensitivity."

She told NBC Bay Area the total amount is $3, 074.

The Granite Bay resident, 51, has had multiple myeloma for about five years, and traveled often, she told NBC Bay Area on Tuesday. But on Monday, an Alaska Airlines flight attendant told her she and her family had to get off the plane at Lihue Airport because Sedway acknowledged that she might need some extra time to board the plane as her cancer sometimes made her feel weak.

Sedway posted video of her removal, in which she can be heard saying: "I'm being removed like I'm a criminal or contagious because I have cancer. No note to fly. My family is being forcibly removed from the airplane because I have cancer."

Then she asks: "Does anybody wonder how I got to Hawaii?"

Sedway had wanted the airlines to apologize, a wish that came true.

Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan on Tuesday told NBC Bay Area that the "communication breakdown was on our part," adding that the company will refund the airfare for family and reimburse any expenses. That total amount has not been revealed.

There are precautions that travelers with cancer should take, according to Some people with cancer may not be able to fly because oxygen levels and air pressure changes at high altitudes can be dangerous. Changes in air pressure during a flight can also trigger swelling called lymphedema in the arms, legs, or other parts of the body for people who have had lymph nodes removed. Also, notes that people with cancer are at a higher risk to develop a blood clot after sitting through a long flight.

USA Today also compiled a list of reasons why airlines could refuse service, including if passengers have contagious diseases or pre-existing conditions such as cancer, heart disease, lung conditions, diabetes and other issues, and the decision rests with the captain.

Sedway acknowledged that she didn't have a doctor's note clearing her for safe travel. And she added that airlines officials told her that because she felt "weak," they were worried about her flying over an open ocean. "They didn't want me to collapse," she said.

Sedway said that the delay caused her to miss her chemo appointment this week — something that's never happened before.

NBC Bay Area's Bob Redell contributed to this report.

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