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91-Year-Old Widow Refuses Chemo and Takes the Trip of a Lifetime

By Margaret Manning October 06, 2016 Mindset

What would you do if, at the age of 90, you found out that you had stage 4 cancer?

Would you undergo chemotherapy, hoping to prolong your life for a few more months? Or, would you see your diagnosis as an opportunity to see the world, while you still could?

This was the heart-breaking decision that Norma Bauerschmidt had to make. To make matters even more difficult, Norma had lost her husband to cancer just a few months ago. What happened next came as a surprise to many. She decided to refuse chemo and take off on the trip of a lifetime.

Speaking to her doctor, she said simply…

“I’m 90 years old, I’m hitting the road!”

Sadly, Norma passed away recently, at the age of 91. That said, I think that it is worth taking a few minutes to celebrate her life and share her story.

For most of our lives, we are trained to follow our doctors’ advice without question. People who decide to forgo treatment or rely on homeopathic remedies are ridiculed, often with good reason.

Norma’s case was different. At the age of 90, she had already lived a long life. Her children were retired and traveling across the U.S. in their classic Airstream trailer. Her husband had already passed, making the decision entirely her own. Her decision to forgo treatment and travel, while somewhat controversial, was entirely understandable.

Looking back at her past and planning for her future, Norma set off on her big adventure.

Over the Next Year, Norma Travelled with Her Son to 32 States

She took in the amazing views at Niagara Falls, visited the summit of Mount Grant, the highest point on San Juan Island and had many other adventures.

Along the way, she had the opportunity to try many “firsts.” She ate wonderful food, rode in a hot air balloon, harvested hazelnuts, went whale watching and much more. Her story was even featured on the CBS Evening News.


There Are So Many Things That I Love About Norma’s Story

For starters, her story reminds us that it is never too late to follow your dreams. If you approach life with a positive attitude, there is nothing that you can’t accomplish.

I also love the fact that Norma’s family took the time to help her achieve her dreams. From the pictures that they posted on their Facebook page, it looks like they all had an amazing time. All the same, it was a wonderful gesture and they should be commended.

Reading Norma’s story has reminded me that I have so many things that I still want to accomplish. Unlike Norma, I can’t guarantee that I will make it to 91, so, I’d better get started! In fact, we all should!

If you have a few minutes today, I strongly encourage you to visit Norma’s Facebook page and take a virtual stroll through her memories. She is truly an inspiration!

What would you do if you found out that you only had one year to live? Where would you go? What would you do? Who would you want to talk with and why? Please join the conversation.

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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