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Why I Wrote

One of the most rewarding outcomes of writing and publishing The Cancer Effect is to hear my journey has helped someone.  Today I got to witness this first hand.

I had just finished eating lunch with my friend, Sue.  We were right next to a bookstore that was selling The Cancer Effect.  Anxious to see my own creation displayed on a bookstore shelf for the first time, we walked in.

I have always loved bookstores.  Nothing compares to the smell of fresh print on paper.  Quickly scanning the store, my eyes found the displays that were intended to grab the customers’ attention:  Staff Picks, New Releases, Best Sellers. Eager to locate where my young publication was placed, I asked an employee if she knew where I could find The Cancer Effect.  Smiling shyly, I told her I was the author.

“I know exactly where it is.”  Grinning, she led me to the Health section and pointed to the shelf housing cancer books.  “I personally arranged this section myself this morning and placed your book facing forward for all to see.”

There are no words to describe my feelings as I stared at my masterpiece, poised serenely among the other books.  The soft hues in the cover seemed to proclaim, “Pay attention to me!  My story is grand!”  The hours of laborious, yet glorious moments of writing sat completed before me, satisfied and fulfilled, a part of my soul.  I picked it up reverently and thumbed through the pages, remembering all we had been through together.  Placing it carefully back on the shelf, I turned to leave.


Wait!  Why not capture this moment on camera?  Sue and I gently posed the book and I crouched down next to it. Completing the photo session, I stood and casually glanced around the corner only to see a young woman also taking pictures of books.  Laughing, I remarked, “It’s interesting that two people are using their phones to photograph books sitting on shelves in a bookstore!”  She hastily explained, “Oh, I’m making a book list of items I want to read this year and it’s easier to take shots of them than write down the titles.  Are you doing the same?”  “No,” I answered, suddenly a little shy of revealing my real reason for photographing a shelf full of books.  “I was taking a picture of the book I wrote and published.”

“Seriously!  Are you an author?  Tell me about your book.”

Excited to share my story with interested ears, I offered a quick summary.  She responded with words I have heard over and over, “My grandmother is a cancer survivor.”  Replace the word “grandmother” with “mother”, “sister”, “friend”, “aunt”, “dad”, to find that almost everyone knows someone who has battled cancer.

“If I buy your book right now, will you sign it for me?”

She didn’t have to ask twice.  Capping off the chance encounter, she led me to her grandmother who was also in the bookstore.  How I love to connect with fellow survivors.  We are family.


Not only did I get to see my book displayed on the shelf of a bookstore, I was there when the first book purchased was scanned, bagged, and placed in the hands of someone who would benefit from its pages.  I have been asked many times, “Why did you write this book?” I often find myself stumbling to find suitable words to answer that question. Days like today make my purpose clear–sharing my journey, providing hope and encouragement. That is why I wrote.

Enter, the Cancer Demon

For those of you fortunate enough to have never met the Cancer Demon, let me introduce you.  He (I assume it’s a “he”), lies silently in wait until another victim is diagnosed with cancer.  This shrewd character tip toes in without a sound and takes up permanent residence. That’s right.  Once in the neighborhood, he doesn’t leave although multiple efforts are made to kick him out.

The Cancer Demon stakes his claim as soon as it is mentioned to an individual that cancer is a possibility.  All it takes is a suggestion.  An ultrasound is needed, perhaps a biopsy, or an appointment with a surgeon.  For me, it was all three.  All at once.  He cleverly begins his haunt in your darkest hours.  He’s your constant companion through the resulting days of chemo and radiation, getting fat on your fear and discouragement.

Finally, the day comes when he receives a foreclosure notice and you prepare to thrust him from his cozy dwelling.  Treatments have ended and it’s time to move on.  Excited to get rid of the nuisance who has haunted you for the past year, you prepare to bulldoze his dwelling. Confident you have succeeded, you press forward, finally free of his mocking.

Months, sometimes years pass and a new symptom appears.  The doctor orders more tests, additional imaging.  And then, unexpectedly out of nowhere enters the Cancer Demon.  Wait.  Didn’t you banish him forever?  It is then that you realize he was never gone, just hiding out, waiting for a new opportunity to stick his annoying head out the front window and laugh.  He knows if he waits long enough, another opportunity will arise where he can taunt, create fear, and do his victory dance.

Overcoming the influence of the Cancer Demon is paramount in moving forward after cancer.  I wish I had the perfect solution for all, but it’s an individual matter.  Some succeed in ignoring him, confining him to the basement.  A few of us face him head on, using all our strength to eliminate him, enjoying moments of success until the next cancer scare.  It is a battle for two, and faith and trust must be established to quiet his teasing.  The sooner that is accomplished, the sooner life begins after cancer.  The Cancer Demon hasn’t been exterminated, but you have accomplished the great feat of not letting him win.

A New Approach to Eating the Elephant

I’m avoiding the traditional formality of making New Year’s resolutions.  I’m done with that. Trying to come up with an improvement plan for an entire year doesn’t work for me.  The best part is I’ve finally come to terms with it and there is no guilt.  It took me long enough.

As far back as I can remember I would sit down and set goals as soon as the Christmas clutter was cleared.   My children couldn’t escape my obsession with this ceremony and after the composing was complete, copies were carefully slid into individual Christmas stockings.  It was anything but joyful to pull out our stowed away stockings a year later only to be reminded that we hadn’t accomplished a thing.   Not easily discouraged, I would repeat this ritual, finally noticing how each year’s list was basically a duplication of the year before.  One item showed up on my list consistently, written with renewed hope; “Catch up on the baby books”.  (For those of you who are not old enough to know what a baby book is, it’s an old-fashioned way of keeping memories, generally replaced today by digital photo books.) Just for the record, I never did catch up.  Six babies and not one completed book.  That should have been the first clue that making resolutions was hopeless.

Still, with a determined heart, I would sit down and think of all the ways I would like to improve each year.  Lose weight, study more, exercise, improve a talent, serve better, develop patience.  The list was endless.  And impossible.  When something hasn’t worked for fifty years, maybe it’s time to change the plan.

So, this year I am making resolutions, one day at a time.  “Just for today I will, or will not . . . “, gradually nibbling instead of stuffing my mouth and choking.  I can keep track of daily goals.  They are easily measured, and if not accomplished, well, there is tomorrow.

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