Howdy friends!! Thanks for your interest in me, my story and how I’m living a life with no regrets. Regardless of why you are here, I’d love to share my journey.
My name is Tanya Ellis. I’m 42 years young and was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer December 30, 2015. The 18 months that followed have been a HUGE learning curve. I’ve had 5 surgeries, chemotherapy, and hundreds of blood tests and scans. I’ve met with 13 different doctors, and have made countless trips between Medicine Hat and Calgary (too many times in the back of an ambulance) … I really could go on but I don’t want to brag!!
Let’s discuss life prior to my cancer diagnosis. I was born and raised on a farm south of Medicine Hat. I grew up on the back of a horse and loved every minute of it. I married my husband, Tim Ellis in September 1997 – THE BIG 20th Anniversary is coming up and something I was really looking forward to celebrating. We have 2 amazing kids Tripp (14) and Trigger (12), which together with Tim’s support they give me reason to continue to fight this disease.
Prior to cancer, I had no health issues. In fact, I have never broken a bone or had need for a single stitch. I loved my ‘job’ as a Farm Tour Facilitator, helping bridge the gap between 14,000 city kids and the farm; where their food comes from. This allowed me the opportunity to work outdoors with kids and animals, garden, craft and cook (all my favourite things) … plus haul a couple hundred pounds of pumpkins around the farm every day. I was physically active, maintained a healthy weight and made healthy food choices for myself and my family. On the outside, I looked like an average farm girl … farmer tan and all. Besides being a Farm-assist, my husband would describe me as a professional volunteer as I enjoy making a difference in our small school and community. I am blessed that he has allowed me the freedom to chase dreams that sometimes I’m certain he thought were crazy. He has been and will always be my biggest champion for the love and support he has shown to me for some wild and wonderful ideas and adventures.
Since being diagnosed, I am no longer working, have had to cut my volunteer hours to almost none and have put future dreams on the far back burner. At this point in my treatment, doctors tell me I am considered palliative, I will never be cancer free, NED (no evidence of disease) or in remission. There is little chance that I will see my kids graduate from high school, cry at their weddings or rejoice over grandchildren. I am stripped of the privilege to grow old with my husband, something we both looked forward to.
I feel I have always lived a life with no regrets but now there is a sense of urgency that is pushing me to crush a few more items off my bucket list. I would love to instill in everyone, the idea that ‘You can’t take for granted that you’ve got your full life ahead of you’. In 2016 Health Canada statistics are shocking … 1 in 2 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. So choose to live a life with no regrets … NOW!
Have you ever speculated what your life would look like if you were told you had cancer and less than 3 years to live? I’m guessing your speculation would look something like this … pull the kids out of school, pack up the camper and travel across Canada, US while taking in everything travelling cross country has to offer. The reality is, unless you are independently wealthy, payments need to be made, jobs need to be kept and doctors appointments dictate the clear majority of your time. I suppose you could choose to forgo doctors but I am still holding out hope, so I just can’t up and leave. I am hopeful for a life beyond 3 years, hope for new treatments or medicines and hope to return to my passions of educating kids about agriculture and to serve my community.
A life with no regrets … how does one live without regrets? Currently I am saying ‘yes’ to things I may have been too afraid of in the past, regardless if I was fearful of the task itself or worried about what others ‘may’ have thought. I have certainly put those fears in the past and I can be grateful to cancer for the lesson. I am learning that more often than not, we regret the things we didn’t do as opposed to the things we actually did. So … say ‘yes’ to life when given the opportunity.
As for regrets, one would be not educating myself on a specific type of insurance. Although it would not have changed my diagnosis, it certainly would have provided me with the power to make my own health care choices. I had never heard of critical illness insurance before becoming ill and for the life of me I can’t understand why we would insure our homes, cars and belongings and not insure ourselves with insurance that would provide us freedom and choices should a critical illness rear its ugly head. Had I had the foresight to have coverage prior to diagnosis, the stress on my family would still be there but it would have been a considerable amount less had we not had to concern ourselves with how our bills would get paid or what non-conventional treatments we could have saught. Currently we are planning to travel to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas to seek opinions of some of the best colon cancer doctors in the world. That second opinion comes at a price, and any further tests or treatments will also come with astronomical price tags.
So why do I tell you all this? The truth is, I feel most powerful when I am sharing my story. I would love to know that because of my journey, others are going to be more educated on what to do … and what not to do. Because being an advocate means living in the strength of all survivors, it means letting people know that I want to stand in the gap between the “what ifs” and reality of being diagnosed with an awful disease. The statistics speak for themselves and its only becoming harder to ignore the headlines that half of us will develop cancer in our lifetimes – shouldn’t you be prepared?
At 42, I’m lucky I don’t struggle with the thought of a so-called ‘legacy’. I have been blessed to instill unconditional love to friends and family near and far. I have left an imprint on this earth that will surpass my children and their children. I have chosen to be a role model for my boys and pray that they will follow in my footsteps of giving back, doing the right thing with good intentions and living now. I guess if I could pick a final legacy, it would be to educate others on how to avoid the financial spider-web of a critical illness. Fill out the form below to find out how to protect you and your family, don’t end up with the same regrets as I do.
I am grateful to my friends at Supplemental Insurance for helping me find my voice again and allowing me the opportunity to share my opinions.
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The Supplemental Insurance.ca team has access to a wide variety of critical illness policies. These plans consist of lump sum Cancer Only policies, 18 specific Critical Illnesses or a combination of the two. Cancer, Heart Attack and Stroke daily payout policies are also available which can be chosen as INDIVIDUAL or FAMILY PLANS to ensure all of your loved ones are PROTECTED
The statistics don’t lie…1 in 2 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime. It’s time to make an informed decision. Reach out to us TODAY! Our knowledgeable agents are here to assist and help you find the plan that works for yourself, your family and…YOUR BUDGET.