An excerpt from The Courage To be True 

by Indigenous Author and Speaker, Tina Ruysseveldt

Tina Interview pic

Dr. Schuh took one look at my hands, and said, “You won’t be ready to start chemo next week with hands like that.” 


I was devastated. I begged and pleaded with him, but he looked at me and shook his head. Both Dr. Schuh and Kelly were united in the conviction that there was no way my hands would be healed in time for chemo and, truth to tell, it did look highly unlikely. Bless Dr. Schuh’s heart, though, because despite the evidence my hands presented to him, he humoured me. He told me to come back the following Monday, and if my hands were healed enough by then, he would be willing to go ahead and start treatment on Tuesday. Otherwise, I was going to have to wait another week. 


We were already sitting at Wednesday, which meant my body had five days to heal. This was to become the second miracle Kelly would witness in my health. My levels of motivation and determination were off the charts as I nursed my hands around the clock for the next five days, leaning on my Higher Power to assist.  


My nursing skills would prove to be helpful as I did meticulous wound care once every afternoon, and again during the middle of the night. I needed sleeping pills and narcotics to fall asleep because I was feeling the burning effects of the Red Man Syndrome, which I was still only just recovering from. Red Man Syndrome is an adverse reaction to an antibiotic and it is characterized by redness, swelling, burning, and pruritus - itching. It causes patients to literally burn from the inside out. The palms of my hands and the soles of my feet were peeling in thick layers. It was as if a moccasin had peeled off of each foot. 


It was brutal. I would wake in the middle of the night and immediately take my next round of pills to both alleviate my pain and help me fall back asleep. Then, as I waited for the medication to take effect, I would tend to my hands. I turned to my bathroom floor into a mini-wound-care bay as it provided the light and space needed, and I set up my supplies there for easy access: gauze, sterile saline, scissors, clean towels, Q-tips, and antibiotic ointment. I would spend countless hours debriding the wounds with dry gauze, and countless snips with tiny scissors in hopes that I would speed up the healing process to be ready to start my next round of chemo. I did not want to wait another week! Honestly, I know it is hard to believe, but by Monday morning I had done it. My hands were ready. My Higher Power and I had created a miracle. The chemotherapy went ahead. 


This triumphant little story still makes me smile today! 


Want more? Order The Courage to Be True here. 

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Tina Ruysseveldt is an Inspirational Speaker, Mental Health Advocate, ICU Nurse, the Creator of The LiveWell Recipe, and she celebrates more than ten years in Recovery. Her LEAD BEYOND BELIEF goal for 2021 is to be a catalyst for change and awareness by sharing her story about addiction and healing, with physicians and medical students in colleges and universities across Canada. 

“To be on the other side of both addictions and cancer is an incredible place to be. It is this journey that I have travelled as both the patient and the health care professional that gives me a layered lens with specific insights on how to support our mental health and improve our overall well-being. This book represents my efforts to share what I’ve learned and as a roadmap to help readers grow and evolve as they find their own Courage to be True, and set their best self free.”

- Tina Ruysseveldt 


Tina resides in Tkaronto (Toronto, Canada) on the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. She is a proud member of the Six Nations of the Grand River.

See Tina’s Amplify profile here.

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