List Post, mars 2015 (March)

  • Writing steadily…more on that later.
  • Enjoyed meeting authors and signing books at the 2015 Augusta Literary Festival! Thanks, y’all! Google the Augusta Chronicle for photos in its Sunday edition of March 8, 2015.
  • Looking forward to a research trip to Dallas this month.
  • Can’t wait to see the proof I ordered of ALL THE ABOVE, approve it, and release it on Amazon in paperback and Kindle!
  • Happy that UNDERWATER now has 60 customer reviews! If you enjoyed it, please add yours! Germany, you too!
  • In touch with the American Cancer Society to promote what they do and to publicize ALL THE ABOVE, the story of my son’s journey with brain cancer.
  • AND – grateful to UGA Relay for Life and UNC Relay for Life for posting info and photos about ALL THE ABOVE ahead of its release on March 31! Both events take place on April 17, 2015 – I will be at one, but wish I could be at both. More birthdays!!!
  • Waiting to hear from the German Cultural Center in Atlanta about a possible book signing – I have several copies of UNTER WASSER (UNDERWATER in German) that I’d love to sign. They have a book club, too!
  • Noticed it? My website TABS have changed. Check out ALL THE ABOVE – FAQ and BOOK CLUBS, with a “Contact me” form!

Joyeux anniversaire! Celebrating birthdays (and other anniversaries)

I love the French word for birthday: anniversaire.

It sounds a lot better than date de naissance. It also seems to suggest that birthdays (while fun to celebrate, and to be joyeux about), are perhaps no more–or less–important than other memorable dates in our lives.

They’re anniversaries.

I know four people who are celebrating birthdays–anniversaires–this week, and one whose wedding anniversary is Saturday. My son’s 19th birthday, May 8, 1991, was a memorable one, but not in a good way: on that date, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

It was the day after his last final exam at the end of his freshman year in college. Over the next 3 1/2 months, he endured invasive brain surgery and 5 weeks of radiation therapy–and he survived cancer.

His last day of radiation was exactly 4 years ago today: August 20, 2010.

It was a Friday, and the end of his first week back at school. His head was bald and his spirits were high. He was full of hope and grateful to be alive. A few weeks later, he joined the Survivors Committee of UGA Relay for Life. If you don’t know about Relay (I didn’t, until cancer happened to my family), it works to raise money for the American Cancer Society, to fight against the disease and find a cure.

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Since then, my son has had countless (it seems) MRIs, all of which have been clean. He has earned his undergraduate degree, and he just started grad school.

And he’s had 4 more birthdays.

My daughter is a sophomore at UNC, and she has joined UNC Relay for Life.

Joyeux anniversaire!

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I’ve written the story of my emotional struggle as my son battled cancer. It’s called ALL THE ABOVE, and will be released in 2015. 

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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

A (baker’s) dozen little-known facts – about me

Look for my BOOK TRAILER to be released soon for MAKE THAT DEUX!

While I wait for the finishing touches on it, here’s some trivia about me. My family (and relatives) know most of these faits peu connus (some of which are a bit embarrassante), but the rest of the world may not:

1. When I lived in France for a year as an exchange student, I didn’t (yet) have a driver’s license. But it wasn’t necessary to have one to drive a moped (mobylette). Phew!

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Not my mobylette, but the same color mine was. (Why didn’t I take a picture? Because cameras – and film – were expensive!)

2. Since my birthday is October 20, I was always one of the oldest in my class growing up (when I started 1st grade, you had to be 6 years old by Oct. 1). In 9th grade, I set out to finish high school in 3 years, which I did, tying with another girl for 1st in my class. When I started at UNC, I was 17.

3. I was 2nd-runner-up in my high school beauty pageant (“Miss Tiger”).

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4. I worked at the Carolina Coffee Shop on Franklin Street (and other restaurants) when I was a student in Chapel Hill, and I once waited on Alan Alda. I don’t remember getting a big tip…

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5. I didn’t get my ears pierced until I was 26 years old and pregnant with twins, & I’ve never had another ear piercing (or any other kind).

6. One of my sons is a brain cancer survivor and was operated on by a renowned Duke neurosurgeon.* My son is doing terrific now & is involved in Relay for Life at UGA, which helps raise funds for cancer research.

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7. I don’t wear bracelets or turtlenecks (though I used to wear both, but only once in a blue moon).

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As a college freshman, wearing one of the two turtlenecks I remember ever owning.

8. I’m a slow reader, and always struggled to make A’s in English (which I did in high school, but not in college…Oops!)

9. Maybe because I’m very nearsighted (and my parents didn’t realize that until I was 12), I didn’t learn to ride a bicycle until I was 10 years old. I couldn’t see the ground in front of me!

10. I don’t get seasick, but I do get migraines occasionally.

11. My hair is naturally curly, and while my kids were growing up, I experimented with many different hairstyles and lengths.

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Me when my third child was a toddler and my twins were in 1st grade

12. I left the promising field of computers and technology in the mid 1980s to stay home and raise my 4 children for 20 years, during which my family moved across the country 4 times.

13. I don’t know how to cook (much)…actually, that’s a well-known fact about me!

 * Dr. Allan H. Friedman, Neurosurgeon-in-Chief, Duke University Hospital; the same doctor who operated on Senator Ted Kennedy several years ago.

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