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Take Off Talk

Distance can be a major barrier to accessing quality healthcare in a timely manner. For patients, access to air transportation can make all the difference in getting the treatment they need. However, flights can be expensive, and putting off medical care because of costs can put you or your loved ones at risk. That's where Angel Flight East comes in.

Welcome to Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East, a nonprofit dedicated to facilitating free air transportation for children and adults with medical conditions who need treatment far from home. Our organization covers a 14 state footprint from Virginia to Ohio to Maine and for further distances, we partner with other public benefit flying organizations.  No matter how many times you need to get to your medical treatment or see a loved one in need, we are here to help. Unfortunately, few people know about free services like ours, and thus cannot use them when needed. We don't know how many people forgo medical care because they don't have accessible transportation, and that's what this podcast is here to change.

Take Off With Passenger, Shannon Sinico

Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East | Shannon Sinico | Angel Flight

In times of adversity, the strength of community emerges as a beacon of hope, reminding us of the significance of reaching out for help. In this heartfelt episode, we delve into the profound impact of Angel Flight with guest Shannon Sinico, who shares her personal journey battling a brain tumor and the invaluable support she received from the organization. Shannon recounts her experiences flying to and from medical appointments, highlighting the compassion and care of the pilots. Amidst her health struggles, Shannon's resilience shines through as she navigates misdiagnoses, surgeries, and the challenges of advocating for herself. Through it all, Angel Flight not only provides transportation but also a supportive ear. Join us as Shannon's story reminds us of the power of community and the importance of reaching out for help in times of need.




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Welcome back with another episode of the show. You're here with me, Maddy.

Also, me, Jess. We have a passenger named Shannon with us.


Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East | Shannon Sinico | Angel Flight


Angel Flight Experience

Do you want to kick us off by filling our audience in on your experience with Angel Flight and how you got here?

I heard about Angel Flight many years ago. My best friend in high school had a brain tumor. They gave her three months to live back home. Her brother happened to see this doctor on 60 Minutes and called him. He called Jody and had her come right to Duke University in North Carolina, and Angel Flight is what brought her back and forth.

When I found out that I had a brain tumor, I was going up every month. I'm out of work, so it's difficult, I'm on my own and I don't really have a lot of support. I have a few very good friends. I called Angel Flight and gave them all my information. I don't even know how many flights I've been on. It’s been great. I was a little nervous at first, but I loved it. I love the planes. The pilots are great and super caring. It's been an experience that if I didn't have this, I wouldn't be able to get treatment.

Do you have a favorite flight or a favorite pilot that you want to give a shout-out to? We love it so you can have as much.

I have a couple. I love Fred Bosse. I did his 100th flight with him.

He's a frequent flyer. I know the name.

Kley Parkhurst. John Greco.

We love John Greco.

Our dad. We love him.

It's hard. I can't remember all their names, but I've had a lot. Every single one of the pilots has been great, but there are certain ones that you can connect with. With Fred, it was immediate. Kley is super cool. He flew me all the way from here to Great Barrington. It was a seven-hour flight. We're going to land and his tire pops. He did a great job because I had no idea it happened. I like talking with Kley a lot. John Greco, I explained to him about the Berkshires where I'm from. He was like, “I've got to bring my wife here. This is great.” He said, “Anytime you fly, you call David and you tell him that I want to fly you..” David told me that his plane is down, so that's why I haven't seen him.

He is taking it personally from his mechanic at this point. The running joke in the office is like, “We're not out of business because John's plane is down.” We're still able to do things because John keeps himself so busy with Angel Flight East. You would think this man is retired, but he is not. He still works.

He's really great. I enjoyed talking with him a lot. We talked the entire way. You can ask any pilot, “What does Shannon do immediately?” They’d be like, “She falls asleep.” The entire flight, I was asleep. The last flight, we landed and it jolted me awake. The vibration puts me right to sleep.

It’s like white noise.

It’s still terrible though. I'm not being rude. I can't help it. It makes me go to sleep. Kley's got pictures of me sound asleep, but with John, I stayed awake the whole time. We talked the whole time. It was great. I had a really great pilot. I had to go up there and then turn right around and go back to Boston. The pilot's name was Anil.

Anil Amit?

He’s a new one.

I don't know. He was awesome. He was great. He was a very nice person. We talked a little bit and then  I fell asleep. It's terrible. I’ve fallen asleep on the back of a motorcycle before. It's the vibration. It puts me right out.

I wish I could fall asleep that easily.

Advocate For Yourself

Come nighttime, that's not the case. I'm awake constantly. On a plane with any little vibration or noise, it's a great sleep. I sleep really well. This is interesting. I have a pituitary tumor in my brain. My very first pilot was a plastic surgeon. He said he did my surgery. He goes to the tumor and then the neurosurgeon comes in. It’s crazy.

On my last flight, the gentleman who brought me in the middle, and I'm going to Brigham and Women's, said, “I was the engineer for their MRI machines.” I said, “That's why I'm going. They are adamant that I have to use their machines. I can't get an MRI anywhere else.” I don't believe in coincidence. There's something there. It's a good thing. This has been three years. It took them over a year and a half to diagnose me. I went through all my blood work and found these little things that weren't right. I researched and found this human growth hormone. It was off the charts.

I brought it to the attention of my doctor. I said, “What is this?” Finally, I went to an endocrinologist. He was very new. I'm an advocate. I advocate for people. I'm by myself, so I have to advocate for myself. I said to him, “You need to think out of the box because I'm not typical. I had Lyme disease. I never found a tick. I had Ehrlichiosis and never found a tick. I'm not normal when it comes to symptoms.” He listened and said, “I'm going to run some tests. I guarantee it's going to come back negative.”

He called me two days later and said, “I can't believe it, but it's positive. You have acromegaly” That is the pituitary gland is producing too much human growth hormone. Since I'm an adult, I have 90 pounds of fluid buildup in my body. Andre the Giant, the wrestler, that's what he had, but he had it as a child. He grew up. I had a really bad car accident in 2016. They misdiagnosed me and I had a brain bleed. I  wonder if it has something to do with the other because this came out of nowhere.

It's shocking that they can misdiagnose a brain bleed.

They told me I had a tension headache.

I don't know if I want to use shocking or terrifying, but either way.

I was getting agitated. I own a hair salon for 30 years. I always waitressed and bartended. I am a single mom. If I wanted a pair of shoes, I had to work stuff. The kids had everything. I was waitressing and a man asked me for a refill on a soda. I'm like, “Sure.” I grabbed the soda, walked, and went, “Where am I going? What am I doing?” I noticed that was happening over and over, which is super frustrating because I remember everything. That's when it clicked, I was getting anxiety and depression because I couldn't remember things.

I went to my primary and she was like, “You have a concussion.” I’m like, “Okay.” She was like, “You are supposed to stay  quiet for two weeks.” This girl was working four jobs. It wasn't for five months they found the brain bleed. I have some weird suspicion that that might have something to do with what's going on with me.

You could advocate for yourself because I feel like a lot of people would trust the doctor and be like, “It's what they said.”

My whole family is pretty much medical. My dad was a police officer. My stepmom's a nurse. My son's a nurse. I know too much. I never listen to what the doctor says because I know what's going on with me. One of my doctors always said, “You know so well what's happening to you. I'm not going to even ask you to come in. Tell me what you need.” Sometimes, you're in tune with that.

That's junk.

The doctors here told me I was crazy because that doesn't happen. I got mad, so I left and went to another hospital. I was getting these terrible cysts almost on my face. I'm all scarred by them. I went to the doctor and they asked me, “Are you a diabetic?” I said, “No.” They kept asking me these questions, and then he did some blood work. When his blood work came back, that is when I found that the number was off the charts. That's when I dug in to find out what it was. That's what I did.

I'm thankful that I found that, but this is over three years that I've been trying to get this taken care of. I finally saw the surgeon in Boston. They were great. They're top five in the country so I'm pretty happy with that. We got to do some blood tests. If they come back positive, then they're going to take it out and I'll be great.

I'm really hoping that that's the case because when there's something in my body that doesn't belong there, it needs to go. I don’t want it there because you don't know what can happen. I lost my aunt to brain cancer. She was only 60. I lost my dad to lung cancer. He was only 56. Things happen. If I can prevent that from happening, that's what I want to do.


"When there's something in my body that doesn't belong there, it needs to go."


If they remove it fully, then it's not going to come back or anything. It's fully gone.

In two days, your body regulates back to normal. I have diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. This is a classic symptom of acromegaly, your teeth space in the front. Everything goes well. It's hard for me because sometimes, there are days I can't walk from the swelling. I have some seizures. It’s not a grand mal seizure or anything like that, but I know it's coming. I can feel it, so I have to lie down, sit down, or something so I don't go down. That's frustrating. I own my hair salon and a restaurant. I worked sixteen hours a day, came home, took care of the kids, did the laundry, and still had energy. The past few years have been like a terrible nightmare that I can't wake up from.

It sounds like that wake-up is coming soon.

I hope so. They want to see that hormones are being produced from it. I did go through my blood work, and there was plenty of it where there was and there was some that there's not. I had a really hard time finding a doctor that I could mesh with. I have time-sensitive blood tests you have to have done by 8:00 in the morning. One day, it was 1:30 in the afternoon. One day, it was 9:30. It was too late. They're not going to be accurate.

Thankful For Angel Flight

I had to spend all that time with these doctors. I tried to be nice. I was really nice at first, and then I was like, “We don't mesh. I got to go.” That's what I did. I had to go up there. I went up on a Sunday, flew home Friday, and had to fly right back out Wednesday and come back Friday. Honestly, for my birthday, I did the fundraiser for Angel Flight. I raised $400. I was pretty happy.

That's a good one.

That's awesome.

I only put $200, but I got $405, so I was happy. The only thing is I wish that there was something more that I could do to help because I know that if it wasn't for Angel Flight, I wouldn't be okay. I'm grateful every day for them. Angelina, Sheila, and David are awesome.


Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East | Shannon Sinico | Angel Flight

Angel Flight: “If it wasn't for angel flights, I wouldn't be okay. I'm grateful every day for them.”


If you cry, we're going to cry.

I'm sorry.

I'm trying to get a little tangled in my arms and I'm not ready for that. For those who are reading, it is  11:00 AM. I did not come emotionally prepared for this.

It's hard sometimes to talk about. I don't even remember the life I had from this. It's been extremely difficult, but I’m able to get to my appointments because of Angel Flight. I have to give a shout-out to David's fashion.

We heard he asked if he was handsome. He has nice shoes.

That’s not what he asked. He told me to do a shout-out that he was handsome. I said, “I'll talk about your fashion.” I like his shoes. He's always got the old-school Adidas or Vans. I love it.

Converses are his staple. He told us that he told you to give him a shout-out and I was like, “What did he tell this woman to say?”

I didn't say it.

He always says we don't talk about him enough. He pins people and tells them to say things so when they don't, it's even better.

He's so kind to me. He makes me laugh so hard. He comes out with things. He had me laughing so hard one day, talking about back in the day with his ex-girlfriend. I have tears in my eyes. He's crazy.

He has some great stories.

What do you think? Are they true?

I think they are.

I live in fear that they are.

He's too much.

He's so entertaining. He has these one-liners. I'm like,  “I lost brain cells sitting too close to you, but I can't stop laughing to be able to move.” I could see where he'd have that effect on people.

Are you girls going to the conference or the convention?


We are.

All of us are going.

I would love to meet Angelina and Sheila. Both of them are so kind.

They’re a little ball of sunshine.

I’m from Massachusetts where we're called bad names up there. I'm a people person with the hair, the restaurants, the bartending, and everything. I came down here thinking the South is supposed to be really friendly. I found out the people that live where I'm from, down here, they're all the same. It's fun to listen to or meet people who are from here because it's such a different mentality. They're so kind and caring. Where I'm from, that's lacking in a huge way. I love it when I can be around people like that because it makes me happy. It makes me a better person too.

Part of the jokes around here, Shannon, and knowing that you're from the North, you'll appreciate this, me and David are the true Philadelphians in the office. I get torn apart because of how in Philadelphia, my personality can be a little bit. They say that I'm the bully because I let them know what they think. I was like, “Don't ask me a question if you don't want me to tell you the answer.”

Are you a Virgo?

I'm not. I'm an Aquarius.

I'm Virgo. I tell people, “Don't ask me if you don't want to know.” I'm not trying to be mean. I'm brutally honest. I can't help it. More people should be like that because then, there won't be questions. There won't be, “Do they like me?” You're going to know, and then you can move on and have a good day.

I feel so validated.

You have to have really thick skin to work here.

I would love it. I would have a blast.

We're a lot of fun. All my friends say I'm the funniest person out of the group. I'll make fun of myself to make people laugh. Who wants to go to work every day and not have a good time or not enjoy it?


"Who wants to go to work every day and not have a good time?"


Not us.

Not me. No way. I like flying in there too because then, I get to see David. I don't know if you girls were there when I flew in.

I was and I didn't know that you were flying in. I wasn't paying attention. Rookie move. I missed out on a good time.

I'll forgive you. He's always right out there taking pictures. He's so funny. He cracks me up.

That's amazing. He's going to love this. This might be his new favorite episode.

It is because no one has given him a shout-out.

We've talked about him.

We didn't go into depths or anything.

Shout-out to David. He's the bomb and his shoes. When is your convention? I'm excited for you.

We are getting shipped out to Florida in the third week of April 2024. April 19th and 20th, 2024.

It’s the weekend before our biggest fundraising event. Is it on break still?

It will be the elementary school kids’ break.


Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East | Shannon Sinico | Angel Flight


What is one final thought you would want to leave our readers with?

Honestly, when you feel like you can't do anything, you can't figure anything out, and you need to travel or whatnot, call Angel Flight. With Angelina, not only does she do my flights but she talks to me. I really appreciate that because I don't have anybody to talk to. It's by myself here. There are times when you need to spill it. She's awesome. She'd let me do that. Not only do they book your flights, but they're there for you in many other ways.

We're here for you too. You have us in the corner. Anything you need, feel free to give us a call or a line over from David. You can tell David.


Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East | Shannon Sinico | Angel Flight


I appreciate this very much.

Thank you so much, Shannon, for sharing your story.

Thank you. Have a super day. Bye.

You too.




She makes me so happy.

Like everybody else, she looks perfect. You would never know she was sick or anything.

You would have no idea.

I'm going to go to sleep thinking about all of the headaches I've ever gotten in my life and if they were misdiagnosed. That is terrifying to think about.

It is so scary. I feel like everybody goes into a situation thinking that every doctor knows every answer. They don't. It also shows exactly why there are specialists in certain things.

Her story was really good. On that note, thank you. Please keep tuning in to the show.

We’ll see you then. Bye.


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