My grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer when I was 14. I was babysitting two neighborhood children when I received the devastating news. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. I know exactly where I was standing, what I was wearing, and the kind of day it was outside. It was warm and sunny, an afternoon ripe for happiness and laughter. It was not the kind of day for words like “cancer” and “six months to live.” I immediately fell to my knees and hid pent-up tears for hours. I didn’t want the children upset or questioning my dreary mood. Back home later that evening, I couldn’t face my grandmother. I had no idea how to process what was happening to her and our family, and I didn’t know what to say. Cancer has a way of doing that to people. It leaves you without words.
I’ll never forget her personal struggle and how hard she fought to stay with her family. She was fiercely brave and never gave up hope. Even in the end, she managed to find the positive–believing she would soon be with her mother in heaven. This brought her peace and gave her the strength to finally let go.
I’ve known many brave souls who’ve battled cancer. Some are no longer with us. Others have received clean bills of health. All of them are equally courageous. Holly Bertone is one of these cancer warriors, a survivor. I had the honor of reading her book last week, Coconut Head’s Cancer Survival Guide. This raw journey through the halls of cancer was touching, inspiring, and left me feeling full of hope, even though I’m not fighting cancer or any illness.
Holly wrote the book in a very personal style. This allowed me to experience the highs and lows alongside her, as I read through the various emails she sent during her triumphant struggle with breast cancer and chemo. I loved that even before she knew what she was facing, she did her best to stay positive. In her words that meant, of course, a little retail therapy: “Because if you gotta have cancer, you may as well also have a most fabulous red Kate Spade bag.”
You’ll feel her despair when she is first diagnosed, cheer for her as she receives a heartfelt proposal, and share many laughs and tears along the way. I highly recommend the book for those waiting, wondering, surviving, battling, and supporting. You can buy the book on Amazon or visit Holly’s site to learn more.