Fear + Courage = Hope

When my child was fighting cancer, this is what I lived in, every day:


But my son is a brave young man, and he understood that courage doesn’t mean the absence of fear.

During his journey with brain cancer, I was his caregiver, and as we pushed fear aside, we focused on one thing:


My child faced something most people never do at any age. At 19 years old, he was forced to look death in the face, but somehow he managed to smile:


He didn’t take No for an answer. Click here to read his story.








Living on hope

In a few weeks, my next book, a true story and a work of creative nonfiction, will be released. As I wrote ALL THE ABOVE, I drew on memories of the hardest period of my life to describe my feelings when the unthinkable happened to my son, Jack. 

On his 19th birthday and the day after his freshman year at the University of Georgia, Jack was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Sitting right behind his optic nerves, the tumor rapidly threatened to take his vision, and he was rushed into surgery.

For the next six months, he fought the battle of his life.













ALL THE ABOVE chronicles my emotional struggle as my family and I did everything possible to help Jack survive brain cancer. His incredible strength, courage, and optimism inspired me to do the best I could as his caregiver.

Each day, I lived on hope.




ALL THE ABOVE will soon be available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.  

A complicated life, hopefully

When I was in my twenties, a co-worker in her thirties once told me that life doesn’t get any easier. “It only gets more complicated as you go along,” she said.

Barbara was raising a son on her own, and she didn’t have the level of education that I had. But she did have more work experience and more life experience. Her pessimistic words of warning didn’t go over well with with my youthful optimism. But for some reason, I never forgot them.

A few years later, due to a variety of reasons and circumstances, my husband and I suffered a devastating financial crisis. Some people offered sympathy, many judged us, and no one helped. Life had gotten a whole lot more complicated. With two young children at home, somehow we dug our way out over a period of years, on our own.

Then, we thought we were done with (major) complications. But we were wrong. Twice more, we faced unexpected and unpredictable upheavals – “issues” isn’t a strong enough word to describe them. Life was more complicated than we ever imagined it could be. We stayed together and leaned on each other both times, sometimes joking nostalgically about our first crisis and wishing we could swap the current one for it. After all, that time it was “only money.”

Our last crisis was a health one, and was by far the most serious and most frightening. Our entire world changed in one day, and we did the best we could to help our 19-year-old son survive brain cancer. For a period of six months, we lived on hope itself. After that – once he was cancer-free – we relaxed slowly and steadily over time. That son, the third of our four children, is healthy and thriving today.

Life is still, and more, complicated today. Other issues have surfaced and we are trying to deal with them as a couple and as a family. But when things seem insurmountable and scary, I think back to five years ago, and I know that somehow, we will get through whatever we have to face.

Last year, I wrote the story of my emotional struggle as our son battled cancer. It’s a work of creative nonfiction, a true story based on my memories (and tons of records I kept). Titled ALL THE ABOVE, the tentative release date is March 31, 2015, and the pre-release cover reveal will be in an upcoming post.*  I wrote it because I couldn’t not write it – and because I hope that reading about my experience as a mom and caregiver will help others who are facing a crisis that is way beyond complicated.

Because when you think about it, a complicated life is still life. And life is a very hopeful and wonderful thing.

* A portion of that cover is below




How “is” can be “good”

As a writer author novelist – well, okay, author * – language intrigues me. And as an author, I try to avoid clichés. A (fairly new) one that I’ve come to dislike a lot is: “It is what it is.”

It’s often always (it seems) used to suggest something negative. It basically means:

It’s not good, but it’s not going to change, so you just need to accept it.

I guess it’s a shorter way to say that (so, better), but it’s not very encouraging. Now, I’m in favor of acceptance – especially of those things that aren’t going to change.

But doesn’t everything have at least the possibility of changing? Maybe it’s just me. Maybe “It is what it is” is, well, helpful. But no one ever means by it:

It IS good, it’s not going to change, so you need to accept it.

Speaking of “good,” I DO like another commonly used phrase (and I say it myself): “All is good.”

(It’s short, it makes me feel good, and it’s kind of like the French phrase Ça va bien.)

“Good” suggests something positive, and though I’m a glass half empty sort of person, I’m very happy to recognize anything positive. 

“All is good” gives you hope, rather than dread or resignation. And hope is something I’m also in favor of.

Now, you tell me: Which do you prefer/say?

1. It is what it is
2. All is good


* I’ve written two novels and have a work of creative non-fiction coming out in 2015, so I guess “author” covers that better than “novelist”


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:


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

photo copy

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:


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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