COOK- What would be on your bucket list, if you started it at the age of 80? Attendees at this year’s Women’s Health Fair got some motivation to start their own list, after hearing about the …
COOK- What would be on your bucket list, if you started it at the age of 80? Attendees at this year’s Women’s Health Fair got some motivation to start their own list, after hearing about the adventurous senior years of a remarkable woman. They also had the chance to participate in health screenings, get information from wellness providers in the Cook area, including the new chiropractor and esthetician based out of Dream Weaver’s, and were treated to some healthy snacks during an evening chock-full of information.
Motivational speaker Mary Shideler shared stories and photographs of life with her mother Goldie, the daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants, who after the death of her husband, started thinking about how she wanted to spend the rest of her life.
“For her 80th birthday we went up in a hot air balloon,” Shideler said. “I was white-knuckled and scared. Mom was having a spitting contest with another passenger, acting just like a kid.”
Shideler’s own bucket list (that is, things to do before kicking the bucket) included visiting all seven continents. Also known as “The Kayak Lady,” Shideler, who grew up and lives in the Grand Rapids area, paddled her kayak in every one of the 1,000-plus lakes in Itasca County, and published a book about her experience.
At 82, Shideler and her mother went skydiving, crossing another adventure off of Goldie’s list.
“I’ve never been so frightened in my life,” Shideler, who is 40 years younger than her mother, said.
Over the next few years adventures included motorcycle rides, a trip in a helicopter, ATV rides, and a glider.
“My mother was sitting up front and chatting with the glider pilot,” she said. “I was looking out the window noticing the wing was patched with duct tape.”
At 84, Shideler got in her daughter’s kayak for the first time and paddled on a small lake.
“She looked at me and said, I see why you like this so much,” Shideler said.
At 85, the four-foot six- inch Goldie decided she wanted a ride in a race car. Shideler tried to find a nearby venue that offered such rides, but in the meantime, Goldie saw someone with a “souped-up” Camaro in a parking lot, and wheedled her way into a ride. When Goldie realized she was too short to see over the windshield of the race car, which was outfitted for a six-foot-plus tall driver, she climbed on top and grabbed on, and demanded a ride.
“Dynamite comes in little packages,” Shideler said.
The driver said he’d never been so nervous in his entire life. The ride was witnessed by a local newspaper reporter, who snapped her photo for their local paper.
At 86, the two women checked off something on both their lists– a trip to China.
The next year it was a trip to South Africa, checking another continent off their list.
“She could befriend anyone,” Shideler said. “People saw my mom as their own grandmother. Everyone doted on her.” In Africa, Goldie rode elephants and then petted two orphaned full-size lions that were being raised in a preserve.
At 88, she walked out on the glass walkway overlooking the Grand Canyon.
But age was starting to catch up with Goldie. With the start of memory issues, she moved from the Southwest, where she had retired, back to Grand Rapids to live with Mary. A broken hip put her in an assisted living home, but once on the mend, she continued to live life as an adventure. For her 90th birthday, she insisted on a Hawaiian-themed party, complete with grass skirts and coconut bras. Goldie died two years ago, and Shideler said she had completed about 70 percent of her bucket list, quite a feat since she had only started at age 80.
“Write it down!” she urged. “Then it can happen.”
Shideler is still working on her list, but crossed off her seventh continent, Antarctica, three years ago.
“Dream big,” she said. “It costs nothing.”
While Shideler spoke about nourishing one’s spirit, the main focus of the rest of the event was the importance of healthy lifestyles and screenings for preventable fatal diseases like colorectal cancer, diabetes, and breast cancer.
A walk-through inflatable colon illustrated the progression from polyps to cancerous growths.
Colorectal cancer, said speaker Marjorie Johnson from the American Cancer Society, is the number two killer of both men and women.
“With screenings, it can be detected and eliminated,” she said. While genetics plays a role in many cancers, so does the environment, and other health factors.
“Four out of five people with cancer are the first in their family with the disease,” she said. “Please have all your screening tests.”
Johnson noted that great strides have been made in both the detection and treatment of cancer, especially in the last 25 years, with a 20-percent reduction in cancer deaths. “Two out of three now survive cancer,” she said. “Cancer is not always a death sentence.”
The Cook Hospital offered free take-home colon cancer screening kits. There are a variety of tests to screen for this cancer, she said, you can choose the test that is best for you. Scenic Rivers now has a doctor on staff who specializes in colonoscopy, a screening test that is needed once every 10 years after the age of 50. The take-home screening kit is also high-quality and reliable, she said, but needs to be done every year.
“Stay healthy for the people you love,” she said.
Diabetes educator Jana Bell talked about the importance of lifestyle changes in preventing the onset of Type 2 diabetes, and had everyone complete a survey to see if they were at high risk of developing the disease. She noted that lifestyle and diet changes can prevent those with pre-diabetes (diagnosed from blood tests) from developing Type 2 diabetes.
Staff from the Cook Hospital and Scenic Rivers Health Services offered free flu shots, blood pressure checks, and blood sugar checks.
Dr. Josie Norbert-Lopez talked about breast cancer, risk factors, screenings, and treatment options.
She talked about the changes in ways the medical profession is approaching detection and treatment, building on long-time research studies. She noted the Cook Hospital offers mammography, ultrasound scans, and MRI’s to help detect cancer early.
The Women’s Health Fair was organized by Scenic Rivers Health Services and Cook Hospital. Another health fair, aimed at both men and women, is planned for this winter.
Resources to learn more about disease prevention and screenings
American Cancer Society- www.cancer.org
American Diabetes Association- www.diabetes.org
Online Diabetes Risk Test- www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/diabetes-risk-test/