Introducing Cheryl Grunwald, age fifty five. Married to husband Carl for thirty three years. Small business owners of "South Florida Speaker Repair Inc." since 1981. It's there that you will find Cheryl on weekdays running the office and the shipping end of their business. Cheryl is the Mother of two sons, Jason and Bryan and "Nanna" of four year old Grandson Zack. She's a very "hands on" Nanna, picking him up from school most days & keeping him until his parents get off work. Cheryl says that her biggest surprise about the whole "Empty Nest" syndrome most couples go through, is that they have yet to experience it ! Their home seems to have a revolving door for friends and family members who find comfort there.    

Cheryl and Carl invited Mr.Wonderful and I to their "home away from home" weekend retreat recently. It's where they go to relax and have some time-out from the hustle & bustle of their busy lives. Cheryl and I got to talk about life and about a topic very personal to her, living with Crohn's Disease.  

Crohn's Disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, The part most commonly affected involves the end portion of the small intestine called the ileum. The inflammation from it causes scar tissue to form in the lining of the intestine. When scar tissue builds up, the intestinal passage becomes narrow, causing things to move through slowly, resulting in pain, cramps and diarrhea. Cheryl was diagnosed with the disease on March 3,1999, after two years of battling with debilitating symptoms including high fevers, chronic diarrhea, pain and extreme weight loss. Her OB-GYN decided to do an ultrasound, revealing a large mass in her abdomen. Later a laparoscopy revealed that she had Crohn's disease. The surgeon removed 16cm of her intestine, her gallbladder, appendix and 1/3 of her bladder. All had been affected by the disease. She has been in remission for two years and takes maintenance medication to keep inflammation down.

"In the IBD (irritable bowel disease) community there is one saying we all laugh at and also hate with a passion. It's..'Gee, you don't look sick' and 'If you don't look sick, surely you can't be that sick' " Cheryl said.

Cheryl is a supporter of  Fight Like A Girl Club, and Let's Talk Crohn's and other GI Issues and belongs to a spin off support group that call themselves the "SH*T-TARTS". That last reference gives you some insight into the personality of this Towanda Gal. She has an incredible sense of humor that keeps her going strong. I asked her what her motto is ? "You Cant lay around and do nothing. You have to get up and fight like a girl!" She says that "taking care of others helps her keep her mind off of herself". 

I asked Cheryl about the future. My Dream for the future? I'd like to be healthy enough to continue seeing America with my 'Snookums' Carl. Because being with him, and living life is what it is all about. If he was not the big PITA (pain in the ass) that he can be, some days I wouldn't get out of bed, but I do, everyday. I call Carl a PITA because he pushes me when I need it, he would never let me give up."

Right now, she "enjoys spending time with our grandson and time without a television on. Time spent talking, or (as she likes to say) 'Con-ver-sating' (having a conversation).  Anyway, most of the things that make me feel good about myself are things that do not give me a pay check."    

Cheryl's parting words to me were "NEVER GIVE UP, QUITTING IS NOT AN OPTION !"

What a lovely visit and another BIG DOSE of inspiration. I hope this lady's inspiring story of TOWANDATUDE encourages you ! Thank You Cheryl !



Cheryl and husband Carl love to travel and ride their Harley Davidson Motorcycle. This picture was taken at Mt.Rushmore on a trip to Sturgis.