Marsha Vanwynsberghe

Life Adversity Coach

Who MPowers You?

MPoweredNow….what does that mean to you? This business name spoke to me for so many reasons. I am mentoring people how to live their most courageous, authentic life especially when life throws the wicked curve balls that it tends to throw. I have spent much time in deep thought understanding what MPowers me….quotes, movies, books, friends, stories and situations where people overcome unbelievable circumstances. Simply stated in this moment I am extremely MPowered by my grandmother.

Kathaleen Hendricks, Grandma or Mom, has been such a role model and an example of perseverance in her life. She has a huge heart and puts her family above everyone else. She spreads her kindness to everyone and still is always able to “politely speak her mind and never back down.” This personality trait was definitely passed down to all of the women and men in our family.

Reflecting back on her life, she experienced a number of challenges that affected the entire family. She is a colon cancer survivor of 15 years. She also survived an aneurysm in her large intestine that if it wasn’t for the quick action of a local doctor, she wouldn’t be with us today. Broken bones, physical therapy and the ability to live on her own for so many years…she continued to show her persistent nature to never let something stop her. Probably the most challenging circumstance was losing her husband Raymond and her son Don within 30 days of each other in the year 1995. I don’t know how she made it through that time, but she did and she was always concerned with how everyone else was doing.

These past few weeks I have been able to witness my grandmothers’ strength and heart even more closely. On March 14th, 2015 she was taken to the hospital by an ambulance because she was too weak to walk, had a persistent, scary cough and lost 20 pounds quickly off a very small frame. In those first moments in the hospital I felt very uneasy about the situation that was about to unfold. Throughout that day we learned of the mass in her lung, the pneumonia located behind that mass and the strong possibility that the cancer had spread. When she heard the news, she truly already knew it. She just didn’t want to know it as no one ever does. She took every step in, absorbed it, accepted what she could, and truly spent more time worried about her family and if they were eating or sleeping enough. She was always concerned more about others and how this was affecting everyone else.

Over the past 3 weeks we watched her on a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, medication changes, 2 different cases of pneumonia, the unknown of doctor’s referral and biopsy, possible discharge home and a cancer that had spread to multiple locations in her body. As I write this she in now in palliative care and has survived much longer than the doctors originally estimated. Watching someone you love suffer is very difficult and such a helpless experience as I am sure many can relate. She has squeezed hands, given kisses, expressed her feelings, and shared jokes and stories that we will never forget. I am not sure how many families can say they were able to laugh with their loved ones in palliative care but I can say that we have.

I am so grateful that I have spent as much time at the hospital as I possibly could…it is time I will never forget. Grandma has reminded me to:

Be grateful for every moment and memory.

Remember the good times and be thankful for the challenges as they make us stronger.

Our behaviour and our response to what life gives us is always a choice…our choice!

Be strong and stand in your own power and your own voice.

Even when times are tough, a good laugh can change your perspective even for a moment.

The biggest lesson for me is that no matter how overwhelmed we feel, multiple problems and issues occurring at the same time with unclear solutions….”we can only cross ONE bridge at a time”. This mantra has been repeated many times over the past 3 weeks and is something we can all use in our lives.

So many valuable lessons in what feels like an incredibly short period of time. I am eternally grateful for this time with her, for who she is and for what she has taught all of us. I am incredibly proud of our family and how everyone has rallied around her at this time. I know she is proud too as she should be. In her own words, “I know I can’t stay much longer, I’ve tried to be strong and fight this as best as I can, but there are two men waiting for me and when God is ready I will have to go.”

Grandma, I promise you that we will all be okay and when you are ready to cross that last bridge, and you are ready to move on, please know that you have impacted all of us forever. Besides you and I both know that you’ll always be here to watch over us!

I love you Grandma and I am so proud of you!
Hugs xoxo