A story of thanksgiving and the journey of a lifetime

The three amigos, Rose Marie Trudeau, Audrey Wemigwans and Marjorie Trudeau settle into their seats on the plane, Las Vegas bound.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rose Marie Trudeau of Wikwemikong got her first-ever passport recently and, with friends, made a special and event-filled trip to Las Vegas, her first time out of Canada. Ms. Trudeau has had a recent health diagnosis that may mean that this sort of trip will be more difficult in the future so time was important. Here follows the story of Rose Marie’s trip to Las Vegas with her friends,, in her own words.

“Opchi Miigwetchwenhdum.” I am forever thankful to all of you for your kindness and love. To my son Pierre for taking me to the healing services and the faith he has instilled in me that I would get better. To my daughter Ruby for the unconditional love and time off from your work.

Never take your immediate families, relatives, friends, co-workers and neighbours for granted for they are the most precious resources you have in times of uncertainties. They give you strength, hope with best wishes and prayers in your time of need. I experienced this first hand these past few months when I was diagnosed with a life threatening ailment and informed by my specialist that I had a terminal illness and I had 6 months. (I’m guessing he meant it takes 6 months without any treatment.) The Nurse said it’s a measurement they use.

My daughter and I were devastated when we got the news at my specialist appointment July 13 after a bone marrow test a week before. A follow up visit to the cancer centre was even more devastating when he informed me that the injection or treatment that I could get may not be approved and that I may not qualify for it. He said it is very expensive. I said couldn’t I pay for it.The injection stimulates the hormone in the kidney that makes red blood cells. After I learned what the injection does I have this theory about my kidney. I have a large cyst in my kidney and I’m thinking this is what is causing my kidney to not function as it should? Could the cyst be removed or the kidney removed? I asked the doctor on call when I went for a blood transfusion the second time on Friday, August 21 and he said he would have to look at my file. Help!

Thus my theory, around spring last year I experienced severe stomach cramps and spasms that lasted up to a half hour and I couldn’t keep food down thereby I had a dramatic weight loss of 50 lbs. After several tests, a scope and scans it was discovered that I have this cyst in my kidney. I was always tired, I’m thinking this must have been when my kidney was affected to the point it’s not making red blood cells.

I remember back in March of this year, I left a day early with my son Jeff and rode to T.O. with him in the semi he was driving as he had taken a week off to go to the Little NHL in Mississauga, I guess I kept falling asleep and not much company on the ride to T.O. My immune system must have been very low as I was easily tired and always needing my “mdimoowenh nap” in the afternoons. Going into April I had a bad cold and could not get rid of it for a long time. Then came a really bad ear infection in my left ear after my cold and I couldn’t hear out of both ears so I went to the clinic several times and I was given an ear wash, ear drops and I took Tylenol for pain. Early Monday morning May 26 my daughter said to me ‘Mom, your ear is really bad, it’s bleeding, you should go to emergency’ and I said ‘well I have an appointment coming up in a few days.’  She said ‘no, you have to go to emergency’ and she took a picture of my ear and showed it to me. ‘I’m going to call work and take you myself right now.’ At emergency the doctor on call ordered blood work and I was surprised to hear him tell my daughter that I need a blood transfusion. I didn’t lose that much blood from my ear of course not this was something else. This is how it all came about my doctor referring me to a specialist as my hemoglobin was down at 59 from 120. This was my first ever getting a blood transfusion and received four units to bring my hemoglobin up to 111 and I was able to go home Wednesday.

A sleep apnea test was done because my daughter said there were times I was not breathing when she came into my room, my heart rate did go down to 44 at my bone marrow test in Sudbury, nothing ever came about with the sleep apnea test except I take less Tylenols as my ear infection is gone and I don’t have to kill the pain. I think I was taking too much Tylenol for pain day and night day that my heart rate must have dropped, again my theory. I still have some hearing loss and I was sent to see an ear nose and throat specialist. Apparently there is some residue from my ear infection and the ear wash received at the clinic. My hearing is slowing coming along with the help of nose spray she gave me.

Rose Marie Trudeau as she set out on her trip of a lifetime, freshly minted passport in hand.
Rose Marie Trudeau as she set out on her trip of a lifetime, freshly minted passport in hand.

Going back to the time when I got my diagnosis on July 13, I looked at my past few months of ailments and surmised I only had until the end of August when the specialist told me I had six months. I already had one transfusion back in May 26 and 27. I was even more convinced when I had to go to the MHC for another transfusion August 21, after a visit to the clinic at the Cancer Centre August 19, when I was told that I probably won’t qualify for the injection and that it was very expensive. To make a long story short, upon return from my July 13 appointment I went into a frenzy and looked at all the things I need to do, I made an appointment with the Estates Office and did my will and called the bank so I can look after my finances and not leave my family in the dark and ensured I had everything was in order. I did this in such a short time frame. I have to praise the Estates Office personnel Fran and Sarah for coming to my home to do the final details and complete my will and to Angela at the BMO for her attention to my financial affairs with my debtors and my heirs.

On the powwow weekend I hosted a potluck feast at my home for my immediate family, sisters and brothers that I could get a hold of as everyone is so busy at this time. I cooked a pot of corn and they brought salads and we had homemade bread. (This was my last supper.) My intention was to read the will but I didn’t, I let my children know they can read my will that was in my desk drawer.

Everyone should have a friend like Audrey Wemigwans, after learning of my illness she called me and said, ‘What is on your bucket list?’ I said ‘well, I’ve always wanted to go to Las Vegas and go to Caesar’s Palace, even if I saw Wayne Newton I’d be happy. I would like to see my nephew again who lives there, he came to Wikwemikong four years ago and found his family.’ He had been given up for adoption some 48 years ago.

I told her I started the process to get my passport in July and I was missing my name change document my marriage certificate and this was on order. I received it on Thursday, August 27 and I got back to her and told her we can now fly out of Canada as I can get my passport, this is the document I needed. This changed a lot of things because I had no passport at the time we tried to plan as we were going to fly out of Kinross in the US. We found out this idea was very expensive and in US funds at that.

Audrey did a fundraiser and had a bingo on Friday, August 28, so I can go on this trip and raised 1,500 dollars. This is why I say in my opening comments to never take your family, friends, co-workers past and present and neighbours for granted. Chi-miigwetch to the bingo players, to Doris, Eleanor and Colleen for helping Audrey and Marjorie and to Bernadine miigwetch for the blanket. I played bingo so I can thank everyone personally and explained my illness and what I wanted to do. I want to thank the Wikwemikong Nursing Home, Mike, Angel, Urban and Mona for the financial support as I would not have had enough funds for my trip. Thanks Charks for the US funds. Getting my pass port cost me a lot. The passport was 120 and an expedite fee of 110 dollars. The ferry for my van, my son and me was 75 dollars x 2 = 150 dollars and 150 dollars for gas, meals and more to TO airport.

For the one-day service I went to the Hamilton Past Port Office. We got on the 5:50 pm ferry Monday night August 31 and arrived in Millgrove Side Road my sister’s place that night, she is 15 minutes from Hamilton. We went to the passport office first thing Tuesday morning September 1 and we got served fairly quickly as I had all my documentation. There was a need to speak to my references for the day service and we were able to get in touch with Audrey and Rick McCutcheon, we could not get hold of Marjorie, my guarantor, and I knew she was on the road to the Soo and has no cell. The passport person who was serving me asked if I knew any one in Hamilton that could be my guarantor and I said yes, my sister, she is right here. She drove home and got her passport, completed the form, signed it and it was done and I was told to pick up my passport at 4 pm. We went early and I got it at 3:15 pm. We dropped my sister off at her home and we headed back and caught the 8 pm ferry to South Baymouth and to home.

Next morning, Wednesday, September 2, was our departure and three full days in Las Vegas and flying back on September 6. We gave ourselves plenty of time and left by 8:45 am as our flight was scheduled for 8:50 pm. Wouldn’t you know it, by the time we got there at the counter we were told we only had seven minutes to spare and we could not have gotten on if we were seven more minutes late because we still had to go through customs and all that. Parking our vehicle held us back as we could not find our lot right parking lot and the bar code didn’t work so Audrey called the number on the info and we were directed to a parking value garage and we needed to get to value park lot. Anyway Audrey was driving and she backed out of this garage and said I’m not paying and have to come out again. She put on the hazard lights and started backing up and the person behind us also had to and went to next lane what a driver. We circled the area and came to a limo parking area and she asked for directions and a lady graciously lead us to the parking lot we’re looking for. Finally we are here oh, oh, the barcode doesn’t work and it should work so she moves to next lane and it worked. (About the bar code after we left home Audrey said I forgot to bring the barcode for our parking. My son Ken was driving us as far as Sudbury so he called his friend Jr. if he had a computer and printer and he did so this is where got to print out the barcode.) All was working out for us even though we lost some travel time, I drove from Sudbury as far as the French River Trading Post for lunch, my favourite eatery, then Marjorie took over from there to Barrie then Audrey drove to the airport.

Upon arrival in Las Vegas we booked into the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino that was part of our West Jet Vacation Tours booking. This was a great deal at 2,400 dollars for three people and a four-night stay. The fundraising dollars offset this cost and Marjorie and Audrey paid the difference. Again, chi-miigwetch to everyone and to Marjorie and Audrey as I never would have gone on his trip by myself. Now we are here, what to do, so much to do. Audrey was like our guide—she was up first thing in the morning and going through the magazine in our hotel room and gave us all the options. She got on the phone and made the necessary phone calls and booked tickets and so on for us, a real touring coordinator. The first night we saw the Million Dollar Quartet, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. What a great show and great music and I especially enjoyed the Jerry character. On the second night we saw Celine Dion and we saw Elvis again because with technology and camera work he was doing a duet with Celine—wow. On the third night we saw KA, a 165 million dollar production. What a great set and costumes and the story line with lots of opera singing, drumming and acrobatics on stage and around the audience and the stage and set forever moving and changing with the big cast. Chi-miigwetch to Debajehmujig for the financial assistance to help us purchase our tickets to these shows.

What a time we had, lots of shops to get momentums and we found a nice place to eat every day in our hotel and an amusement area with shops and restaurants on the second floor. On the last day we connected with my nephew and he came to have lunch with us but we had already eaten and went back to the restaurant on the second floor and had refreshments while he ate. We caught up on family and Marjorie had pictures to share and give him as his father was from Marjorie’s side of the family. We had a great visit.

I went swimming with Audrey on the morning of September 5 for the first time in a long time. I stayed out late only one night to try my luck at the slots and didn’t win. There were slots everywhere you go and every hotel we went to every day any time of day—wow.

On the morning of the flight back home September 6 we overslept because our wakeup call never came. We were to catch the shuttle at 4:10 am so we can be at the airport hours before our 7 am flight thus allowing us time for breakfast. I woke up, it was at 4:30, and I woke up every one we were rushing to get going and perhaps catch a cab instead. Audrey was upset at the desk for the wakeup call not coming and we had paid up front for our shuttle ride return to the airport. In the long run we ended up getting a cab to the airport and arrived in plenty of time, through customs again the whole bit. Each time I went through my knee replacements set off the alarm thus checked over again with the wand.

What a whirlwind experience in a few days, everyone should have a friend like Audrey and a sister-in-law like Marjorie. Chi-miigwetch ladies. I love you both so much you mean the world to me.

Respectfully submitted for your reading pleasure and as my appreciation for the love you have shown me and what you have done for me. My spirits have been way up there and most rewarding is I have been approved for the medication that will help me. I’m sure to be around for a while yet.

Rose Marie Trudeau