From Sick Chick To Trail Blazer: My Story

Grace Quantock sitting on a bench with head tilted & resting in handWhen I was 22 the doctor told me that he thought I had sarcoma, bone cancer.

I was terrified. Everything spun in double time. I desperately longed to rewind.

One of my friends had sarcoma, so I knew about the illness and the grueling rounds of chemo. I’d had friends die from cancer. I’d been living myself with serious illness for many years already. Like many people faced with a new diagnosis, I knew these things happened but I was totally unprepared when my time came.

The (many, many) blood tests began. And the waiting. Two long weeks of awful, maddening, waiting. Followed by a merciless, unforgiving fear. It was autumn, cold, grey and dark. I couldn’t be on my own; my aunts, my grandmother, my sisters sat with me when my husband had to leave the house. I curled up with films, where all was easy. Happy endings. Escapism at its finest.

I ached for spring. I wanted to grow my garden.

Then, things sharpened, a photograph developing, a vivid view of my own life. And I became unafraid of all the things that had once been so scary.

Just hours before we got the test results, at hydrotherapy with my husband, I made a list: what I wanted to change in my life if I got the chance. We keyed it into my phone, right then and there, while I sat in the too-big-hole-in-the-bottom hydrotherapy wheelchair. Nearly falling through that hole because I was so very thin, with scarred track marked arms from all the blood tests, I rocked my huge sunshades and pink organic bathing suit while I poured my heart and hopes into that list.

It included, (ironically) “stop living from a to do list”; “stop being scared of the benefits agency”; “live my dreams”; “record and share my healing journey”. Oh, and (naturally), “go dancing in glittery heels”.

The results call came while my husband and I were under the trees in the park…

I did not have sarcoma.

Relief fountained through me, freedom from chemotherapy, from battling to survive, 22 and re-born to this world. Grateful. So consciously alive.

My diagnosis, instead, was severe osteoporosis. No walk in the park, but so what? It was a challenge. A message. A doctor’s opinion. And it was a lot more than that: it was an opportunity. To wake up to the reality:

The disabilities are the footnotes. I am the adventure story. Tweet this!

I wanted to share my healing story. To fulfill my dreams.

They have blazed into being, shooting stars and all.

When I first became ill, I enrolled in my own personal healing university. We studied, went beyond the call of duty, moved mountains and read more books than I thought possible. When I was too sick to read, my lovely PA put the books into pictorial form for me. I learned about the issues with my heart and major organs through smiley face cartoons.

My husband and I needed a guidebook, a navigation chart, but it didn’t exist. So we took all the records, the healing university learning, the manual of our living we had created and it became a book. My book. Our story. A resource.

I became the go-to person for information. People asked for our sources and help, over and over. We couldn’t keep all of that valuable information to ourselves; not everyone had our experience and means, not everyone could do what we had done to create our new healing path. We felt compelled to share.

Sick Chick to Trail Blazer was born, and I became a teacher.

My goal: eradicate the fruitless searches for a lifeline at the bookshop, the library and the internet.

And now, what began as our difficult journey, then rough plans, then me dictating to my husband, daily, has grown into a 90,000 + word manuscript, my sheer delight to be here, thriving, and a guide for women looking for the best ways to get the information – and personal empowerment – they need.

This is me, reaching out my hand, holding the highest space for them – for you –  supporting and sharing through your healing journey. As I live and grow through mine.

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