Jude Calliros recently wrote an important book.
Breast Left Unsaid, published October 10th date via Amazon.com, is Jude’s 18-month memoir recounting the days when her life became a self-described "Category 5 Hurricane". Imagine it: you’re in the midst a of heart-wrenching divorce, your best friend in the whole world has just passed, both of your parents are ill, and then the final bomb gets dropped – “You’ve got cancer.”
In Jude’s typical brash and unapologetic manner, she picked herself up from her bootstraps (after yelling, generally despairing and breaking things), and embarks on a life-altering journey.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but while I was living through this really abysmal period of my life, Breast Left Unsaid was writing itself,” Jude shares. "I felt like I was on this mission to move others past the awareness of this disease and understand in real terms how our lives are impacted. I guess my main motivation now, because I'm still battling breast cancer, is to hopefully make the struggle that anyone is going through; whether its cancer or whatever enormous crisis is invading your life - a little easier to reconcile. As cliché as it sounds, it helps to know that you’re not alone; that even when things seem their bleakest – they can get better. If I can offer hope - or with any luck, a laugh to even just one person dealing with this mess – I’ll be satisfied."
Here is an interview with her:
1. Was writing the book a cathartic process to help you come to terms with being diagnosed with breast cancer? I love to write but am much more productive when I feel a personal need to create order out of chaos, so I can't think of a time in my life when writing has helped me more. The book begins when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, but comes on the heels of several other personal catastrophes: both of my parents were ill, I was in the middle of a divorce, and my best friend had recently died. This was an unprecedented period of turmoil in my life, so writing became a constant refuge, especially when I could expose humor in the cruel absurdity of it all. I have an odd and sometimes inappropriate coping mechanism of mining humor out of dark situations, so “Breast Left Unsaid” steers through some tough corners with a mixture of raw, honest emotion, uncensored observations and surprising laughs.
In truth, I didn't write during this period with the intention of writing a book; that idea surfaced after the realization that I had lived through something that (in hindsight) was a compelling story. I honestly had no clear perspective while it was happening. It also became more of a mission to complete the book when I received feedback that it had potential to help others.
Writing is always cathartic to a degree, but it's not what helped me eventually accept my diagnosis. My family and friends can take credit for that.
2. What advice do you have for anyone who may be going through a tough time once diagnosed with a deadly disease? Allow yourself ample time to be miserable, angry, sad and pitiful. Just don't let that become the norm; it has to pass so you can, as Van Morrison says, “get the healing done.” The best way to move ahead and take control of the chaos is to become an expert in your disease and healthcare. Don't leave it to your doctors or your partner or anyone else; it's your new job, so research and actively network with others experiencing the same health issues because it will give you insight and much needed perspective. If you don't like a doctor because they make you feel worse and not better - find another doctor. If people around you are driving you crazy and not giving what you need - tell them what you need or find new people. Build your back-up team because you will need support and guidance and someone to make you laugh out loud on dark days. Nurture these relationships and stand guard over them.
Remember the hot mess you were when you were first diagnosed and realize how far you've come. Regardless of your prognosis or new limitations, there is always a measure of life to be lived so make the most of it. Tell your loved ones what you hold in your heart and forgive them when it’s harder on them than it is on you.
3. What parts were the most difficult to write about? The sections that included my father (who was suffering from Lewy Body Dementia) and the four months of chemotherapy, or as I call it in the book, “The Dark Arts Medicine Show.” Chemo is just a legal form of torture in my opinion, so having to read back through my notes from that time and piece it all back together was like sticking the needle in my arm every morning before sitting down to write. I would stare at the computer and just put my head down on the desk and cry. It's amazing what your sense memory can do to you. I would like to never have to do that again.
4. How do you see life differently as a result of this experience? Unfortunately, this experience is not over. I am still battling breast cancer and it has framed my view of life in a way that is difficult to articulate without sounding cliché. Suffice it to say that when the universe sends you a message that your once awesome body has betrayed you and is making every effort to shorten your life, it requires a much more strategic approach to making peace with the world around you. My worst fear greets me every morning when I wake up so it’s impossible to stress over anything other than the safety of my loved ones and doctor appointments. Everything else is a big, shiny, bonus.
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©