Hi. My name’s Theresa and I’m The Local Tourist. Have we met? Well, then, please allow me to introduce myself.
I’ve been thinking lately that it was time. Mainly, because I don’t know if I ever have, and I thought people might wonder just who this “Local Tourist” person was. I figured now’s as good a time as any, especially since who I am has changed dramatically in the last year. I’d get to it, I thought. Then I received an email inviting me to share my story. Talk about timing!
The message came from Ford. (They’re not paying me to post this, but they did give me a limited edition t-shirt by Detroit artist Sydney G. James, and one to give away. Details are at the bottom if you’d like a chance to win it.)
The email read:
“I’m reaching out because Ford has just launched a social media challenge, and I immediately thought of you…Inspired by the all-new, all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E – which challenges preconceived notions of what a muscle car can be – we hope women will use the #ShowSomeMuscle hashtag to share a story that celebrates their resilience, power, empathy, innovation, creativity and compassion. I know it’s been a tough year, but you seem to me to be the perfect embodiment of this idea.”
The campaign launched with Misty Copeland and Gabby Williams. Talk about some inspirational company.
And now it’s my turn.
The basics: I’m the founder and publisher of The Local Tourist. Originally dedicated to covering Chicago, I’ve since expanded to cover U.S. travel, and now I’m also the founder of Your Chicago Guide. I launched that site last spring because hey – nobody was going anywhere and it was probably THE best time to move 18 years of content.
I’m also an author. I’ve written two volumes of my Two Lane Gems book series, first person cross-country road trip travelogues. They’re delightful, if I do say so myself.
I’m a contributor to Midwest Road Trip Adventures, a recently released anthology (also delightful). I’m completing my next book, Living Landmarks of Chicago. If you want to know the stories and people behind those famous landmarks, this is the book for you. It’s delightful, too. What can I say? I’m a delightful writer. Anyway…
I’m a speaker (hello, Travel & Adventure Show!), a mentor (hi, Bloghouse!), and I’m teaching the upcoming Midwest Travel Network’s travel writing workshop in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Yay, beach!
Now what’s changed…Well, as you can see, I’m bald. I’m bald because last August I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I turned 50 in May, had my first mammogram (ten years late, but I did it) and crap – there it was. A tiny, 2mm tumor. Tiny, 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. Since November 23, chemo has taken over a big portion of my life.
So, here I am. Bald. Changed. Scared. Strong. Hopeful. Powerful. Resilient.
In the last six months 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.
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 recently been diagnosed, with varying degrees of stages. I’m Stage 1. Some are Stage 4. 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 of this, I’ve learned not only of my own strength, but the true, truly enormous love and compassion that exists within others. This sucks, 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. This last year has been the most devastating, unexpected, painful, and challenging thing I’ve ever experienced.
It’s also been the most enlightening, and in many ways, the most filled with hope, love, and generosity. I know that when I come out the other side of this, I will be the strongest and healthiest I’ve ever been. I’ll 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, paying it forward is the only option.
Now, womxn, it’s your turn: what’s your story? I’ve got one of these strong, statement-making limited edition t-shorts to give away (size L). Say hello. Introduce yourself. Share your story. I’ll pick a winner on Sunday, February 14 – a.k.a. Valentine’s Day!
I can’t wait to meet you.
Theresa L. Goodrich
Traveler, Author, Speaker, Emmy-winner, Beautifully Bald Beater of Cancer
p.s. Don’t just share your awesomeness with me – spread it around, and be sure to tag #ShowSomeMuscle so we can see these stories of strength together.