The Healing Power of Travel: What I Learned from My Daughter Meghan

“I’ve never shared my story about the “courage to conquer”. Yes, I have had cancer twice and yes it changed my life. But my story is about my daughter Meghan. She took a dive in our swimming pool at age 12 and broke her neck. It left her quadriplegic.  That certainly changed my family’s lives. She had all sorts of surgeries to make her as independent as possible. The one thing I knew she was not going to spend her life in front of a television.

Meghan was the first Handicapped Athena Award Winner in Minnesota. It is an award given to the athlete who earned the most athletic points during High School. She played adaptive sports and won every award that she could earn if she had been able bodied.
She lived on campus during college. Not easy changing the University to meet her disabilities. She graduated from College became a probation officer in Hennepin County. Yes, she had disabilities but had her own home and drove herself. Such a hero to everyone who knew her.

Jeanne’s three sons and daughter, Meghan

We took a cruise every year – just the two of us. I was showing her the world. She lived to travel. It was our girl time.

In April 1999 we were cruising Tahiti then up to Hawaii. On that cruise she took very sick and died in less than 12 hours. I won’t go into any details what is was like watching your oldest of four children die in front of you.

I did not do well after her death. I drank very heavily trying to forget. I heard a voice “Mom, you have three sons you need to be mom for”.  I found AA. and my life changed again.

She was my traveling companion. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t know if I could travel again. Slowly I did do some trips with my husband. He does not care to travel. Travel is one of my passions.

I was surfing the internet to see what was out there for women traveling alone. Sure enough I found AdventureWomen (AW). What a true find for me. A group of women who were active in their lives, traveling together to meet challenges and make friends with similar interests.  Awesome. I knew it was for me. I look forward to every trip, every new experience, every new culture, every new challenge. AdventureWomen has helped me fill a void in my life.

On my Peru trip I knew something was wrong. All the way up I struggled but there was a voice telling me I could do it. That I was strong. It was a challenge that needed to do. After all it was just a small hill compared to the mountains Meghan had to trek.

Jeanne (left) with Ambassador Ali (right) at Lake Humantay in Peru on our Peru Trekking adventure

Travel is such a positive way to get out and experience life. Travel was such a part of our lives.  She had such a bug for travel. To grovel in self-pity was never Meghan’s way.  How could I not honor her spirit?  Every trip I take – I take her with me so she still experiences our love for travel.

Jeanne in Peru on the Salkantay trekking adventure with AdventureWomen

I really don’t know why I wrote this, but your article stirred something in me. We all have obstacles (curve balls).

AdventureWomen is so much more than just a travel company. It is women bonding with women, pushing themselves to meet and conquer challenges that we didn’t know we had it in us. What a victory for each and every one of us.

AdventureWomen has given me such a positive outlook on life. AW feeds my soul and need for travel and for that I thank you.

Thanks for listening.” -Jeanne D.

Jeanne (pink in back row) and her group in Alaska on our Bear Camp trip in 2017