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.
For the past several months, Kenilworth resident Jim Higley has shared his story about life as a single dad through his Bobblehead Dad columns on triblocal.com.
His story as a single dad battling cancer has earned him a contender spot in the World’s Greatest Dad competition through ManOfTheHouse.com online magazine.
Check it out!
It’s official – through the generosity of one of our cancer survivors- Chicago Blackhawk’s GM Stan Bowman – the Stanley Cup’s last public appearance will benefit Imerman Angels. For $30 anyone can purchase a ticket to have their photo taken with the cup. Tell all your friends! You can email them this link, or post it to your facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc.
I don’t know about you, but I felt like all of the crazy, zaney, hilarious misadventures of my life came to a screeching STOP! when I was diagnosed with cancer. Rather than waking up after a night of hard partying to find a cold, half-eaten slice of pizza in my purse (true story), I was spending my days engaged in deep soul-searching sessions and hour-long conversations about the meaning of life with everyone from my doctor to my cousin to the person in the stall next to me in the ladies’ room. At night, I logged some serious hours researching doctors, hospitals, and my type of cancer. I listened to endless hours of Musak while hold with the insurance company, took lots of naps, and just generally worried about the future. Clearly, this was not how I envisioned life at 26.
Looking back on it, there were entire months after my diagnosis where I didn’t laugh once. Not once! (Ok, so maybe I chuckled at some lame joke while watching Everybody Loves Raymond in the hospital waiting room, but that was more of a pity laugh than a true guffaw).
Of course, cancer takes a while to process—and rightfully so. But the one thing I needed most after all that processing was something to distract me from cancer and allow me to be a goofy twenty-something again. I’ve noticed that I, as well as most of my peers, deal with the ups and downs of life by enlisting a little humor or sarcasm. It doesn’t mean that we’re the jaded, misguided, “me” generation that the media claims we are – it’s just our way of coping.
Surely, I thought, my fellow young adult cancer survivors would be out there laughing in cancer’s face, right? (After all, we can’t expect grandpa to be crackin’ jokes about how testicular cancer has turned him into the Uni-Baller, or a five year-old to come up with a more original line than, “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?”). As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong! Of the many cancer websites, discussion boards, and books I’d read, only one tried to incorporate humor. Other websites on laugh therapy seemed like they were written by our parents, or copied out of those joke books you buy at the check-out line of grocery stores.
So, I started collecting some funny tidbits here and there. I want to share those with you now, in the hopes that someone out there will see them and break that awkward, depressing waiting room silence with a good chuckle, or at least find some pleasant distraction from the heaviness of it all–even if it’s just for a few minutes. After all, if cancer has taught me anything, it’s that every minute counts. So why not spend ‘em laughing?
Below are some links to what I found. If you have any others, please share them, too.
The Half-Million Dollar Shot
Emoticon War: SuperNews!
Gladys on the Ellen Show
Awkward Family Photos: Curly
Awkward Family Photos: Anything for the Shot
Contributed by, survivor, Amanda Pope.
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Detroit’s Comedy All-Stars Brett Kline, Nate Fridson, Ben Konstantin and Jeff Dwoskin are coming together to bring you a stellar night of comedy!
We are happy to announce “Big Al” from WOMC’s Dick Purtan and Purtan’s People show will be our celebrity MC!!!
Proceeds benefit IA!
When? Tuesday, June 29, 2010 @ 8pm
Where? Joey’s Livonia (www.kickerscomplex.com)
How Much? $15/ticket
25% off meal @ Kicker’s before the show with reservations
1/2 off pizza during the show.
Advance Sales – How to get your tixs:
We are doing advance ticket sales – email email@example.com with the amount of tickets you would like to reserve. You will receive an email back with an address to send your check and you will be mailed tickets for the event!
Enjoy an evening benefitting IA in my hometown!
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