By David F. Rooney
Cancer. The ugly images this word invokes bounces back forth through your head when you first hear it used in a diagnosis and ultimately everyone deals with the stress and fear induced by a cancer diagnosis differently.
Freelance writer DebiLyn Smith’s new book, Running from Cancer: A Titled Memoir, is a deeply personal and engrossing account of her experience with cancer. It pulls no punches and spares no sensitivities.
“You can run, but you can’t hide,” she writes in her book. “Like everything else in my life, I found this out the hard way. When it comes to cancer there are no rules and nothing is fair. It’s a nasty ordeal. The therapy used to battle the disease can be just as nasty. I can attest to the saying ‘they have to just about kill you before they cure you’ as being quite accurate.
“Enduring the process is much easier when you know what lies ahead. Half of my anxiety and nervousness was due to lack of knowledge. I knew nothing about cancer. Until I got the disease, life was busy with no health-oriented focus or goals. Then I lost half a breast and gained a few scars. The positive news is I now weigh less, have thicker post-chemo hair and, best of all, have developed a killer attitude on how to stop running from cancer. Now I stand firm and fight back.”
Like so many people, DebiLyn’s pre-cancer life seemed to be a more-or-less normal one. She had her ups and downs but until 2008 the word ‘cancer’ was, as she puts it “nothing but another type of cootie: a folklore disease I feared catching as a child.”
But that was about to change as her mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Then came her own diagnosis:
“’Deb, the results are back from your biopsy. It came back positive for invasive ductular carcinoma (IDC). It appears you have breast cancer. I’m so sorry.’
“For a split second I was speechless, but I recovered quickly, cracking a few jokes, laughing. My laughter had everyone in the house sure the news was good.”
But of course it wasn’t good
This book may be DebiLyn’s personal account of learning to live with breast cancer, but the message in Running from Cancer is meant for everyone who has heard a physician deliver that grim diagnosis.
I once heard my own physician deliver a diagnosis for malignant melanoma back in 1995. It changed everything I thought about myself and my future. But, as DebiLyne writes, it it is possible to defeat the fear and despair that shiver through you when you hear such a diagnosis.
“It’s never too early to start fighting for your life,” DebiLyn says in Running from Cancer. And she outlines ways and means to do just that.
Her account should inspire hope in anyone who learns they have contracted cancer.
DebiLyn Smith, who lives in Houston and is a frequent visitor to Revelstoke where she has many friends, will be signing copies of her book at Grizzly Books on Friday, August 23, from 10 am until 2 pm.
Running from Cancer: A Titled Memoir, by DebiLyne Smith, published by Queen Bee Books, 197 pages.