Norma is 90-years-old this year — but she leads a fuller, far more adventurous life than most of us can imagine.
She has gone through her fair share of tragedy and loss. Just last year, her husband of 67 years passed away. Days after, doctors detected a deadly, cancerous mass in her uterus, and started preparing her for the worst.
Instead of lining up for cancer treatment, which would have involved undergoing major surgery, followed by rounds of radiation and chemotherapy, Norma decided to leave.
“As doctors, we see what cancer treatment looks like every day,” said one of Norma’s doctors. “ICU, nursing homes, awful side effects and honestly, there is no guarantee she will survive the initial surgery to remove the mass. [She is] doing exactly what I would do in this situation.”
He smiled, told her to enjoy her trip, and wished her all the best.
Norma’s Road Trip
Norma’s family were understandably concerned for her to travel on her own, but they were understanding of Norma’s desire to leave the nursing home where she had live with husband Leo right up until his final day. After accepting Norma’s decision, her family agreed to accompany Norma on her trip to all the places she had always wanted to visit but never had the chance.
For the past six months, Norma and her family traveled around the U.S. in a mobile RV home. They even went beyond the States to visit other countries, including China. The family has visited multiple national parks, New Orleans, the Rocky Mountains, Niagara Falls, and have joined the festivities in a Native American ceremony. She fulfilled a life-long dream of riding in a hot air balloon!
As for the tumor, Norma had experienced no discomfort throughout the trip. She felt like her cancer had gone into remission.
Norma’s travels officially came to an end on September 30, 2016, when she passed away. Her funeral was on October 7 when her family and supporters mourned the loss of this inspiring woman. She is a role model for living to the fullest every day no matter the circumstances.
This 90-year-old was no stranger to pain and loss, yet she maintained a striking optimism all the days of her life. She had always been interested in reading, jigsaw puzzles, sweet wine, and knitting. The only place on her wish list that she hasn’t traveled to is the moon!
“Keep praying every day,” she said, “and God will take care of you, even when it feels like you can’t take care of yourself.”
She also advised others to reflect about happy memories from the past, to talk about the good times.
“Storytelling is really, really helpful,” she said.
“I’m pleased to know that I can be an inspiration to so many,” she added after finding out that her Facebook page has attracted more than 70,000 followers.