Surviving a deadly earthquake on a bucket-list vacation is nothing compared to fighting cancer.
A Maple Ridge family on a bucket-list trip escaped to Bali just days before a third major earthquake struck the Indonesian island of Lombok, raising the death toll to more than 300.
Logan Lay, 21, and her family were in Lombok for the final leg of their journey when a 6.9 earthquake hit Aug. 5, killing hundreds of people and flattening homes on the Indonesian island east of Bali.
Logan was diagnosed with brain cancer June 3, 2005, when she was eight years old. She went through seven years of solid treatment. She did three different cycles of chemotherapy and had brain and spine radiation, as well as multiple surgeries.
Logan started chemotherapy again for the fourth time and had been doing chemo since October of 2016. As of January 2018, she had finished eight cycles.
When Logan was first diagnosed, the family had decided to throw caution to the wind and started to live a bucket list.
Over 12 years, they traveled to 20 countries.
Logan, her younger brother Brody, father Jared and mother Jennifer Montgomery-Lay had been in Indonesia for a month and were in Bali on July 29 when the first earthquake hit the region.
That earthquake registered at 6.4.
“We woke up and Jared and I were like, ‘Woah, earthquake,’” said Jennifer.
“But it was quick, it was only like 10 or 15 seconds. So we ran out to the balcony to like, ‘What are we feeling,’ and we saw a bunch of people run outside,” she said.
“But it wasn’t anything like what we experienced in Lombok,” added Jennifer.
The family decided to continue on their journey after doing research and consulting with geologists and friends.
“We were like, ‘What are the chances of two big earthquakes hitting?’” said Jennifer, who remembered thinking that they were just being paranoid.
Plus, she said, if they cancelled the reservation, they would lose a lot of money, so they continued.
They arrived on the island of Lombok on Aug. 1 and on Aug. 5 they had just returned to their rooms at around 7 p.m. in the second floor of the three-storey villa they were staying at when an earthquake registering 6.9 on the Richter scale hit.
“We had only been in our room for probably less that 10 minutes and I had all of Logan’s medication trays out and was just reloading her medication for the tail end of the trip,” explained Jennifer.
As she was opening pill bottles, it hit.
They heard cracking concrete and things smashing. Jennifer yelled earthquake. They ran to the adjoining room door where their children were.
“When we ran to the door. Brody already had the door open and Jerod was just like,’Run,’” said Jennifer.
The couple grabbed Logan, who was unable to run, and ran as fast as they could out of the villa and up a hill to a gathering station.
“We were worried because our villa was over this big ravine and it had a floating bridge stairwell that we had to get across that we were afraid was going to break,” said Jennifer.
Jennifer estimates that first big earthquake went on for about 45 seconds to a minute.
As soon as the earth stopped shaking, Jared realized they had left all of Logan’s medication and their passports back in their room.
“I was crying because I was like, ‘I don’t want you to go back in there.’ But [Jared said], ‘Jenni, she takes like 15 medications a day. If she doesn’t have her meds, we are so screwed. This is going to end in tragedy anyways.”
Jared ran back into the building.
“We could see the building was cracking, but he had to go back in,” said Jennifer.
Just as Jared ran back out again, everything in hand, the next tremor hit. Then another.
Then there was a tsunami warning. They ran as fast as they could up a hill to a highway, beyond which was jungle.
“We’re like there’s no friggin way Logan’s going to make it up this hill,” said Jennifer, who still had her phone on her.
So they figured how high estimates were for the tsunami and decided they were high enough to avoid danger.
Once the tsunami warning was lifted, about two hours later, the Lay family made their way back where staff found them a room in a bungalow area of the unfinished hotel.
“There was no power, we were completely in the dark, we were having multiple aftershocks. I think in an hour we had about 20,” said Jennifer, adding that they didn’t get into a room until about 3 a.m., but they stored their belongings there and sat outside because they were so scared.
The following day, Jennifer estimates there were more than 100 aftershocks and the family felt that they should stay put. There were no flights off the island and no boats. They were getting images of frantic people gathering at the port waiting to get out.
“There’s no way we can go there and have no food, no water, no shade, with Logan … ” said Jennifer.
They called the Canadian embassy, where they were told there was nothing that could be done for them. The Lays spent another night on the island and were evacuated after two more earthquakes hit.
“The second night we were evacuated, we ended up sleeping outside in the open air palapa of their lobby. Just like laying on mats together because we’re like there’s no way we are going back to the room,” explained Jennifer.
The next morning at around 5 a.m. they decided to make their way to the port.
“We missed the first boat. But they were gracious enough to get us on the next boat,” Jennifer added.
The boat ride was about six hours and another two-hour car ride to a hotel in Bali, where they planned to stay for a couple days to stabilize Logan.
“With her tumour, we are just trying to manage all of the symptoms with a lot of medication and a lot of fluids and such through her tube,” Jennifer said, explaining that Logan’s tumor affects her ability to regulate her blood pressure and her heart rate.
When she gets tired, she can’t control her swallowing.
By the time they got to the hotel, Jennifer and Jared were pushing 60 hours with no sleep.
“I felt like I was drunk. I was shaking by that point and so delirious,” said Jennifer.
After a couple of days in Bali, the family are planning to fly to Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, for another couple of days before flying to Taipei, Taiwan, and finally to Vancouver on Aug. 13.
A 6.9-magnitude tremor struck Lambok again Thursday, killing hundreds more.
“One day we are going to go back and we are going to remember the beautiful things about the island and we are going to remember how all the people took care of us and how everybody helped us,” said Jennifer.
“What people don’t really realize is that experiencing something like this on your bucket-list dream trip is nothing in comparison to being so terrified that your child is going to die for 13 years in your own home.”