Petr Koukal fought cancer and won. The number 1 Czech badminton player has just heard the good news that his treatment was over and that he can start practicing again. It goes without saying that it is a relief for him, his family and his friends on the circuit.
“Here I am. No more cancer. Healthy.”
“It took three cycles of chemotherapy. Each took five days, each day six hours of infusions. Two weeks break between each cycle. The first two were ok, of course I was not feeling 100% but it wasn’t as hard as I expected. I also played French Open which made me really happy and I enjoyed it so much – to be “on tour” again. That was just great. But it wasn’t good idea to play. My body was really tired and just one day after the match with Dicky I lost all my hair …”
The last chemotherapy was so hard. I could never imagine that I would suffer so much. It was the hardest thing in my life, really. Not only those five days but also next five days I was just feeling so bad and so sick and tired. I know it was necessary to do that and now I am happy it is over. It was very hard experience, but I believe that it will only make me stronger and tougher…”
Read the rest here at Badzine, a site for badminton.
She said cavalierly, “Oh, I’ve read that book. It’s great.” And I just about wet my pants. Because “that book” was my book, and she wasn’t someone that I knew.
With that simple interchange, I realized that all the hard work of creating and producing a book, and yes, the experience of having cancer as a 33-year-old young mother had translated into something transformative. I realized that I had become an author.
Life is like that. You get dealt a crappy hand, and in the moment, you feel as if the world has conspired to bring you to your knees. You might even feel that way for a long time, actually. But eventually, at some point, you will come up for air and realize that yes, indeed, you can breathe. And when you can breathe, you begin to wonder if there is something that can come out of the shit show you have just endured.
It might be a new-found strength. Or an appreciation of things that make you laugh. It might be the love of time. Or a burning desire to Do Something with your life.
I am a writer, and so I used words to Do Something.
That something turned into Nowhere Hair, a children’s book that helps explain a loved one’s cancer diagnosis to little kids. My son, Hans, was just a smidgen over one year old when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so I was spared having to explain all the craziness to him. But I did come in contact with lots of children in my days as a bald mother, and their stares and confusing glances told me that they didn’t understand. That they were scared.
The book that emerged is upbeat yet honest, as I wished to paint a cancer diagnosis as not the end of the world, but something that is approached with dignity and (hopefully) some style. Edith Buenen, a fashion illustrator from The Netherlands, is the primary reason the book has such a positive feel. Even in the pages that talk about the hardest things (“It makes me scared that she is sick. I want her well right now. She says, “Be patient, little one.” That seems so hard somehow.”), her pictures are lyrical and calming. Yes indeed, mommy is cranky sometimes and wiped out and on the couch. But she is still a mommy first and foremost, filled with love for children. The book explains that children can’t catch cancer, and didn’t cause it to happen. It ends with the universal message that what is inside of us matters far more than how we look on the outside.
Sue Greim Glader is a mother and author living in Mill Valley, California. Nowhere Hair is available from her website, at www.NowhereHair.com. Join Nowhere Hair’s Beautifully Bald Initiative at facebook.com/NowhereHair. Her blog, Poking Around Life, can be read at www.SueGlader.wordpress.com.
Jonny attended the Young Survival Coalition (YSC) event in Champaign, IL, hosted by our very own angel, Jen Smith. The all-day conference featured speakers Bruce Weber ( U of Illinois’s basketball coach) spoke and our Jonny Imerman. The crowd: about 50 women attendees, all young adults with breast cancer or young adult breast cancer survivors . Jonny reported a “great crew, great event!” Jen (pictured below with Jonny’s brother Jeff) sported a pink moustache (made of cupcake frosting) to support MOVEMBER!
Young Adult Cancer fighters and survivors may enjoy a new journal affiliated with our friends at the CHOC Children’s Hospital. The journal is targeted to young adults with cancer and it’s awesome
Check it out!
About the Journal
Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology (JAYAO) will have a very broad mandate. Dedicated to the promotion of interdisciplinary research, education, communication, and collaboration between health professionals in AYA oncology (aged 15-39 at diagnosis), JAYAO
will provide a forum for AYA cancer research and practice advances to all professional participants and researchers in AYA cancer care. Our multidisciplinary editorial board and readership will include but will not be limited to: pediatric, medical, and surgical oncologists of all types and specialties; oncology nurses and advanced practice staff; psychosocial and supportive care providers including psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers; translational cancer researchers; and academic and community-based pediatric and adult cancer institutions.
JAYAO’s content includes:
* Original peer-reviewed articles
* Provocative roundtable discussions
* Review articles, Editorials, and Perspectives
* Advocacy group spotlights
* Highlights of clinical trials relevant to AYAs
* Case studies with AYA-impact enhancement
* Pharmacology highlights
* News bites