What’s left out of ALL THE ABOVE

My notes, outlines, and original drafts of ALL THE ABOVE included the following:

  • All the lyrics to the songs Jack and I listened to on the way to and from Emory (I was even going to use some of the lines at the beginning of chapters).
  • The time when, at an eye checkup at Omni Eye Services, another doctor (not Dr. Day or Dr. Sturdy) examined Jack’s eyes, put him in front of an apparatus, and he asked, “Is something going to touch my eyeball?”  To which the doctor replied, “Oh, just a little touch.” I don’t know if it was the “air blow” thing they do, but afterward, Jack and I laughed at how the doctor responded (as if a little touch is nothing…)
  • The time when, at Egleston Children’s Hospital, while he was waiting to check in for yet another MRI, Jack made friends with a little boy with cancer who was bald. When they called Jack up to the counter, the worker said she didn’t realize he was a patient, and thought he was that little boy’s father.
  • The fact that Jack’s brother Brian was driving our van, and Jack was driving our Honda CRV that summer. We only had one other car, so I took Dennis to MARTA every morning to go to work, and picked him up each evening.
  • The time when two of my friends (from my Bible study group) met me at La Madeleine for a glass of wine a few days before we left for North Carolina, and I told them what was going on.
  • The fact that many of our close relatives didn’t ask how Jack was doing, even after he went public; I think other family members told them.
  • The fact that Jack was his sister Annette’s Confimation sponsor that November. (Jack is pictured below, a few weeks later in Texas.)

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  • The fact that Dennis and I spent a weekend in Las Vegas that fall.
  • And, that in mid November, a friend from my Bible study, who had invited me to go to spend a long weekend at her beach house with her and another friend (in Seaside, Florida), graciously allowed me to bring my mom along, too.
  • Many other quotes from books and songs that I wanted to include, but couldn’t, such as:

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Some of the above got edited out, and some of it wasn’t part of the story. But it was all there in my mind (or on my desk) when I set out to write the book back in April 2013 while I spent a week at the beach.

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Letting Go of Fear

Life is unpredictable, and sometimes scary.

My family and I usually attend Relay for Life at the University of Georgia with my son, a brain cancer survivor, Relay volunteer and UGA student. One year, greeters gave us purple and white balloons and markers, and asked us to write on them something that we wanted to let go of.

After months of worry and anxiety about lots of post-treatment MRIs – all of which were “clean” – I knew exactly what to write on my balloon:

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Later, after the event’s kickoff, we were all asked to let them go:

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At our first UGA Relay event, my son had been cancer-free for only six months. As the final leg of the actual relay to kick off the event, he ran in the torch:

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In a few days, we will attend this year’s Relay for Life at UGA. My son got involved with Relay in the fall of 2010, weeks after he recovered from brain surgery at Duke and finished radiation therapy at Emory. He has told his story numerous times and helped raise funds for cancer research, serving on the executive board this year to help with corporate donations.

Just three years ago, I had no idea what was in store for my son and for our family. I’m a worrier by nature, a trait that sometimes went into overdrive while I was raising my children. I worried about things that might happen to them…but I never feared that any of them would get cancer.

Then one day, one of them did.

Before it happened, I began writing my novel, MAKE THAT DEUX. The protagonist, Jenny Miles, is 19 years old, the same age that my son was when he was diagnosed; he learned he had a brain tumor on his 19th birthday in May 2010.

After two surgeries, setbacks, despair, pain, suffering, and recovery, he started back to school as a sophomore at the University of Georgia in August 2010. In October of that year, he learned that he was cancer-free.

I know that at times, he was afraid. But he didn’t let fear overtake him. He lived through his illness with courage, strength and hope, and through his journey, he inspired me to let go of fear.

One of my favorite authors is Charles Dickens. Here’ a quote from his novel David Copperfield:

“We must meet reverses boldly, and not suffer them to frighten us, my dear. We must learn to act the play out. We must live misfortune down, Trot!”

photo copy 3My son’s gold survivor handprint and my purple caregiver one at UGA Relay for Life 2012

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