Welcome to The Local Tourist: Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself

Hi. My name's Theresa and I'm The Local Tourist. Have we met? Well, then, please allow me to introduce myself.

Hi. My name’s Theresa and I’m The Local Tourist. Have we met? Well, then, please allow me to introduce myself.

My story begins in the back of a van many, many years ago. Decades, in fact. Now, before your wild imagination fills in the blanks a little too creatively, that van was my dad’s and he was an artist.

Dad exhibited at art fairs. Occasionally, mom and my brother and I would join him. He’d pulled out the seats in the back so his artwork would fit. That meant my brother and I sat in lawn chairs (which tells you how long ago this was). When dad took a turn a little too fast, so did we.

I already knew I wanted to be a writer. When we started traveling to these art fairs, I’d watch the passing landscapes and realized I wanted to travel the country and tell its stories.

Theresa in her happy place - with horsies!
Theresa in her happy place – with horsies!

After a few missteps, I graduated with a Journalism degree and promptly began waiting tables. I’d moved to downtown Chicago and fell in love with my new city and my new neighborhood. Armed with skills gained in J-school plus the passion of a tourist and the comfort of a local, I found my calling.

The Local Tourist was born.

For fifteen years, I was all Chicago, all the time, but then a surprising visit to a small town in Iowa reignited that little girl’s dream.

I began traveling the country and telling its stories.

In 2017, I published my first book. In 2018, my second. They’re delightful, if I do say so myself.

Jim, my delightful husband, gamely participating in my silly “12 Wigs of Christmas” project.

The next year I began working on my third. The launch party was set for the following spring, which just happened to be March 2020.

We all know what happened then.

That global calamity was shortly followed by a personal one. In August, after getting my first mammogram at age fifty, I got the biggest gut punch of my life.

I had cancer.

Right before shaving my head. I knew I’d lose my hair, so I decided to donate it to Wigs for Kids–hence the goofy pigtails.

Fortunately, the mammogram did its job. I was ten years late getting it (women–don’t be like me!), but I got it, and it did what it was supposed to do. Crap–there it was. A small 11mm tumor.

Small, but with the potential to do gigantic damage. We removed it, and a few nodes, and while I’d originally hoped to escape all the Big Drama that comes with a cancer diagnosis, the chance of recurrence was too great.

For ten months, treatments took over my life.

There I was. Bald. Changed. Scared. Strong. Hopeful. Powerful. Resilient.

My 2nd chemo treatment

I had surgeries. I had chemo. I had radiation. In the middle of treatment, I received an email from Ford asking me to tell my story.

They had a new campaign inviting women to share stories that celebrate their resilience, power, empathy, innovation, creativity, and compassion.

The campaign launched with Misty Copeland and Gabby Williams. Talk about some inspirational company.

And then it was my turn.

Bald and Beautiful Theresa L. Goodrich
Go on with your bald self!

I hadn’t really told my story before, and now I had a lot more to say.

Since that gut punch diagnosis, I have learned more about myself and what I’m capable of doing than I ever thought possible.

I didn’t want to be one of those people whose life changed because of cancer. I didn’t want to say “I thought I was fine, but then I got cancer, and everything changed.”

I don’t know why I felt that way. I guess I wanted to think that I was strong and confident enough that I didn’t need some big shakeup to show me the way.

Pre-cancer me, but this is still how I feel. Joyful. Hopeful.
Pre-cancer me, but this is still how I feel. Joyful. Hopeful.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out that was a bunch of hooey.

I AM changed. Cancer DOES change you. There’s no way it won’t. I’ve seen it in myself. I’ve seen it in several friends who have also been diagnosed, with varying degrees of stages. I was Stage 1. Some are Stage 4. I’m now cancer-free. They’re still fighting.

The gulf between our experiences is vast. But the commonalities, the alarm that won’t turn off no matter how many times you hit the snooze button, the connections through our shared shock, fear, and drive to survive, connect us in a way nothing else can.

Through all this, I’ve learned not only of my own strength, but the true, truly enormous love and compassion that exists within others. Getting cancer sucked, but I quickly learned that it has been a blessing more than a curse. They don’t even compare.

I’ve always believed in the kindness of people, and that we are more alike than different. 

Now I know. Definitively know.

Facing a pandemic. Facing cancer. Facing cancer while in a pandemic. The last few years have been the most devastating, unexpected, painful, and challenging thing I’ve ever experienced.

They’ve also been the most enlightening, and in many ways, the most filled with hope, love, and generosity.

I knew that when I came out the other side of this, I would be the strongest I’ve ever been. I would also be my most confident, and my most compassionate.

When you’re faced with the unexpected and hands and hearts appear to lift you up, living life to its fullest, being kind to others, and being true to yourself are the only options.

Celebrating two more rounds of radiation. I'd go for a walk in the woods after every treatment to give me something to look forward to.
Celebrating two more rounds of radiation. I’d go for a walk in the woods after every treatment to give me something to look forward to.

Being true to myself means writing. I’m a writer. That’s what I do; it’s who I am.

Since that diagnosis, I’ve written four books, including my first novel (and my second’s on the way). I completed Living Landmarks of Chicago, the book that was supposed to launch in March 2020, while undergoing chemo. I know that book kept me going. It kept me sane.

I’m the publisher of and contributor to Midwest Road Trip Adventures 2nd Edition, an anthology showcasing road trips in each of the twelve Midwestern states.

I put all my road trip advice into one book. Planning Your Perfect Road Trip is born out of the presentations I give at the Travel and Adventure Shows.

My life is centered around writing. I write travel stories. I write books. I write fiction. And when I’m not writing, I’m speaking, or I’m teaching others how to write.

Since 2019, I’ve taught a writing retreat for Midwest Travel Network.

That writing workshop is so important to me, I drove down to the Gulf of Mexico in early 2021 with my husband (in a Ford Expedition Platinum Max – talk about a suh-weet ride!) to teach a retreat while in the middle of chemo. We slept in the back to keep me safe and took six days to get there from northern Illinois so I wouldn’t be too tired.

My oncologist told me it would be good for me, and he was right.

Since then I’ve taught workshops in Dubuque, Billings, and Sheboygan, and it’s now available online.

TLG in front of a sign that says Outrageously Happy

Why am I telling you all this? Because The Local Tourist is more than a brand. It’s more than a website. It’s more than social media accounts and emails.

The Local Tourist is the dreams of a little girl who wanted to be a writer when she grew up, the fulfillment of a woman who made childhood yearnings reality, and the passions of a cancer survivor who faced her gut punch and embraced her calling.

I am The Local Tourist, and I invite you to join me on this journey of wonder, and wonderful stories.

I invite you to be a Local Tourist, too.

Theresa L. Goodrich

Traveler, Author, Publisher, Speaker, Emmy-winner, Cancer Slayer

2 thoughts on “Welcome to The Local Tourist: Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself”

  1. I love you stories and adventure. I am so glad you are doing well because i had prostate cancer and when I found out my attitude is lets get it done . we are glad that the travel show is back and wonder if you have any free tickets?

    thank you

    • Hi Michael! It is definitely all about the attitude. So glad you’re doing well! They’ve moved the show to 2022, but I’m sure I’ll be partnering with them. Are you on my email list? I’ll be sending out details as soon as I get them.

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