Gwendolyn Giesbrecht

First post: Dec 1, 2018 Latest post: Mar 9, 2019

Gwen was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in February 2014.  In May 2014, she had a procedure to remove the tumour; further surgery was needed so in July she had full abdominal surgery resulting in a diagnosis of stage 3 cancer.  Following that she took radiation and then chemo.  She quit chemo half way through because it had become life threatening. 

Gwen lived the next two years with complications from previous surgeries and an uncertain future but experienced life with her usual zest.  During this time, Wayne & Gwen took a trip back to Nova Scotia and PEI, rented an RV, and visited dear friends they had met during their volunteer time at the Guest House in Halifax a few years earlier.

Early in 2017, Gwen began to experience abdominal symptoms that eventually prevented her from eating any solids.  By June, when she couldn’t hold even water down, she was admitted into St. Paul’s hospital.  She finally had surgery in early July, where they found the cancer had returned and spread through her abdomen.  She started chemo treatments again and when the cancer responded to treatment, she was referred to a HI-PEC surgeon.  When a spot on her lung was found to be metastasized bowel cancer, she was no longer a candidate for the surgery.

At this point, Gwen’s oncologist recommended a break from chemo to make the most of life.  In mid-May, she had another surgery for a permanent colostomy to increase quality of life.

Gwen & Wayne spent the summer making memories, some of them with their RV.  Sheldon & Marsha and family were out the end of June.  Highlights were a boat trip to Sucia Island, where she had spent time in her youth and young married life, and a trip up the Chief on the new gondola in Squamish.  They camped on Vancouver Island with Brad & Donna, Patti, and Cassidy and visited their three nieces and families. A trip to Ontario was special with good times spent with siblings, family and friends.  Next was another camping trip to Silver Lake with Jason & Shauna’s family.  Throughout the summer were times spent with Patrick and Summer and their family.  In September they packed up their RV again and traveled across BC, AB, and SK, visiting their siblings, relatives, and seeing old childhood places on the way.  They spent a few weeks at Sheldon and Marsha’s, and headed home for Thanksgiving.  Different times throughout the summer and this trip, Gwen mentioned the feeling that this might be the last time she would be seeing these places, and people.  From BC to Ontario, there is now a trail of china, gifted from her to her friends, as she did what she loves and does so well – giving what she can of herself.

Throughout the fall she noticed symptoms of the cancer.  In November a CT scan showed that the cancer had grown extensively in her abdomen and significantly in her lung.  Her outlook from the start has always been to not ask “why me?” but rather “why not me?” and accept her situation.

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