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Breast cancer patient checks off bucket list with biplane flight

A Clearwater woman got the flight of a lifetime at Albert Whitted Airport as she undergoes cancer treatment.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A Clearwater woman got the chance to check off something that's been on her bucket list: taking a ride in a World War II biplane. Christina Wood was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer last August. It has since spread to her spine and bones. For this former flight attendant, taking this flight was truly the trip of a lifetime.              

“She's a spitfire. Anybody who is down and out, her sense of humor is uncanny, unmatchable. Her sense of whit is amazing,” Christina’s daughter Heidi Stubbs said.

Her family and friends were holding signs of support as Christina arrived at Albert Whitted Airport. Decked out in a leather cap, goggles, and a scarf, she was ready to take flight. Her daughter says it just reflects her mom's personality.

“She’s like, I’m going to land on Snoopy’s house,” Heidi said. “Her character is unique. There's nobody like her. I'm so blessed and amazed that I got to have a mom like that in my life.”

Flying has been a family adventure. Christina's great grandfather flew biplanes in World War I. Her father served in the Army Air Corps. The former flight attendant says flying has always made her feel close to both of them.

“I feel like it's been a wonderful completion," Christina said. “I’ve always loved aviation and didn’t realize how much until I became a flight attendant.”

Credit: Christina Wood
Christina Wood, seen on the right, became a flight attendant when she was 47 years old.

She was excited to even have a short stint as the pilot today.

“It was fantastic. It was beautiful. It was fun. It was easy. He let me fly the airplane. He had hands off for like 10 minutes. I flew from here to the Skyway Bridge, and then I turned right and went along the beaches,” Christina said.

Credit: Jump!
The nonprofit Jump! arranges for seniors to take adventures that they've had on their bucket list.

The 45-minute flight over Tampa Bay was made possible by the non-profit, Jump!. The group helps seniors check off their bucket list and makes a video keepsake to hold onto the memories. Right now, every day is a gift. Christina was only expected to live until January.

“The diagnosis just floors you at first, you know, but the gifts that you get from that diagnosis outweigh the nastiness of it. If I could change it I would, but it’s been an amazing experience to be sick and see how people come together. I’ve never felt so loved in my life,” Christina said. 

Her daughter says she's been driving herself to chemo at Moffitt Cancer Center every week for the last seven months.

Christina’s message to anyone facing a cancer diagnosis: take it one day at a time.

She adds, “You have no control over it, so just do the best you can. And live your life and appreciate every day.”

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