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     It was the summer of 1970 and life was pretty terrific.  As a former airline stewardess married to an airline captain, we'd spent our summers at our lake house in Canada on the same lake Art spent most of his boyhood summers.  Our daughter, Courtney, four, and our son, Mac, eight months old, would be creating a lifetime of childhood memories just as their daddy had many years before.  Our lives were idyllic.  Surely nothing untoward could ever blacken those magical summers with family and friends.

     In January, 1971, I discovered that life doesn't always happen as we plan.  I was hospitalized for a month, my body ravaged by a disease doctors could neither explain nor cure..  In February, I was flown to Mayo Clinic's Methodist Hospital, in Rochester, Minnesota.  This would be my new place of residence until the middle of May and a long way away from my home and family.   I was about to learn exactly what was slowly destroying my body.  But, what I wasn't told before having to say goodbye to my little four year old daughter and my thirteen month old baby boy, was the fact that when I'd left home that cold January morning, the prognosis of ever returning home again was slim to none. I'd tried, unsuccessfully, to stave off tears flowing in a never-ending path down my cheeks while my heart shattered into a million pieces.  I'd never thought you could actually feel your heart breaking.  Sadly, you can.  And it's the worst sound in the world.

     I was diagnosed with an incurable disease called Crohn's.  My family's lives were about to be ripped apart and there was not a damn thing I could do about it.  However, there was only one thing that I had to do and that was concentrate on getting better and getting home where I belonged.  Where I was needed.  My returning home would take many months and a miracle.  I was about to learn that for the rest of my life, I would be forced to live my life on both sides of a coin.  Not only would I have to deal with my Crohn's, but I would have to endure a surgical procedure called an ileostomy.  My entire large intestine and a large portion of my small intestine, so badly diseased, had to be removed.  This meant, I would have to wear a pouch attached to my abdomen where the contents of my intestine would be eliminated.  You cannot even begin to imagine the horror of that news Sure, I was alive!  But at what cost.

     No, this was not how I had planned my life.  I was about to learn that as bad as I'd thought it was, it was merely a prelude to what was about to come.  And what was about to come was a whole lot worse.  And I never saw it coming.  In 2002, the unspeakable happened.  My worst nightmare reared it's ugly head.  And it was looking straight at me.

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