Woman, 90, shuns terminal cancer treatment for trip of a lifetime

Posted by
Sarah Biddlecombe

We all have a bucket list of places we want to go, sights we want to see and experiences we want to try within our lifetimes.

And from far flung adventures to more simple pleasures, we are always bookmarking things we want to do in the future. 

So when 90-year-old Norma Bauerschmidt received a diagnosis of terminal cancer from her doctor, she decided there was no time like the present. The nonagenarian shunned treatment and instead chose to spend her remaining days on earth doing all the things she enjoyed most - while trying plenty more new experiences along the way.

Bauerschmidt's husband, Leo, had died just two days before her diagnosis, and her son, Tim, and his wife, Ramie Liddle, offered her a place in their house.

Shunning the traditional bricks and mortar, the Michigan-based family decided to embark on a year-long road trip across America in the family's motor home, leaving on July 2015 and travelling until the end of September 2016.

"She was ready for an adventure," Ramie told the BBC.

Over the year, the trio travelled more than 13,000 miles, taking in 34 states and a whole host of bucket-list-worthy experiences. They watched whales, sailed boats, swam in lakes and ate delicious food, documenting their adventures on a Facebook page called Driving Miss Norma, which quickly gathered more than 459,000 likes.

Sadly, Bauerschmidt passed away on 30 September 2016, after enjoying a whirlwind year travelling the country.

"She had a very happy last year, and was a very simple woman who had never had any attention in her life," her daughter-in-law said.

"And that's the beauty of this story - she was just herself."

You can see some of the best moments from the Driving Miss Norma Facebook page below.

Driving Miss Norma: the best moments

miss norma

“You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!”

― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!

Tim and and his mom at the summit of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard. It is pretty here!

miss norma

We are asked often, what else is on Miss Norma's bucket list.

The truth is, there really isn't a list per se. We have been taking advantage of opportunities as they come along. Every now and then she will say, "You know, I've always wanted to do _______!"

Recently, the _______ was to visit an aquarium.

Thanks to the folks at the Georgia Aquarium, we were given a VIP behind-the-scenes tour of that first-class facility. Miss Norma got to visit with Diego the sea lion, Ruby the African penguin and had a party with some of the staff in a room with a view of the whale shark tank. Once again, we could not be more grateful!

miss norma

Lobstergram! — at Megunticook Campground by the Sea.

miss norma

To succeed in life, you need three things: A wishbone, a backbone & a funny bone. -- Reba McEntire

Yesterday, all three conspired to create a fantastic day in the country!

Until now, Miss Norma had never ridden a horse nor a zip line. Picking the first scrumptious, organic strawberries of the season at Turtle Run Farm was a huge bonus!

We are forever grateful to Turtle Run Farm and the North Carolina Therapeutic Riding Center for an amazing day with the Today Show crew.

miss norma

Thelma and Louise have met their match.

miss norma pedicure

Miss Norma's first pedicure. She said, "I'll do it if you do it, Tim."

miss norma beach

There is not much that a day at the beach can't cure — at Hilton Head Island Beach.