Chicken Soup for the Soul

It’s always special to learn that one of my stories has been picked up by Chicken Soup for the Soul. I was informed this morning that my latest story will appear in the upcoming volume Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope and Healing for Your Breast Cancer Journey. Even after five years, it’s still difficult for me to write about my cancer journey– it is truly something I would much rather forget about altogether. But it is always with me, and not only is it cathartic to deal with it through writing, it is my hope that by addressing the issues that arise in an honest and open, while still life-affirming way, this will help others facing their own diagnoses. The book will be released on September 4, 2012, and can be ordered from Amazon, or I will have a limited number of copies to sell.


Making Strides

Well, they said the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk would take place today rain or shine. How about rain and shine? The rain held off for the first four miles, then let loose the final mile. But hey, this is Portland in springtime! Please help me reach my fundraising goal by making a $5 online contribution on my behalf at my personal page. I am already 45% of the way to my goal!

Know Your Facts

Today was Day 1 of the Health Expo for the Portland Race for the Cure.

I volunteered at the Komen booth. People spun a wheel and answered one of 8 questions about breast cancer facts to win prizes. How well do you know your breast cancer facts? Take this quiz and find out. Then click on the link at the bottom for the answers.

  1. What are the two best steps to take for early detection?
  2. What should you do if you find a lump?
  3. True or false: 85% of breast cancer cases are NOT hereditary.
  4. True or false: The 5-year survival rate for breast cancer if caught in the earliest stages is 98%?
  5. True or false: The 5-year survival rate for breast cancer if caught in the latest stages is 26%?

Okay, and I must be seriously tired from my long day, because I’m drawing a blank on the last 3 questions. If I think of them, I’ll add them later. 🙂

Here’s a link to the answers.

Aha, I discovered today at the Health Expo, that there were actually only 6 questions in all, which means I only forgot one. That makes me feel much better!

6. True or false: 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

A Self Review

The prompt  for the January  Write On! Online Challenge  was to write a review of something we’ve written. It was challenging indeed, to strike just the right balance between modesty and blowing my own horn.  In the end, I decided to approach it by pretending I was writing a review of someone else’s work. 🙂 I was thrilled to learn today that I won 2nd place (, for this review:

The Ten Best Things, in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings (

Category: Creative nonfiction

I stumbled across Cara Holman’s story The Ten Best Things in a volume of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings. As a cancer survivor myself, I appreciated the forthrightness and honesty with which she presented the story of how a writing group she joined shortly after her cancer diagnosis helped her to deal with her treatment and aided in her emotional recovery.

A cancer diagnosis can be a frightening and isolating experience. Many studies have shown the value of support groups for cancer patients, and in The Ten Best Things, Cara recounts how joining a writing group for women cancer survivors functioned both as a support group for the “eight or so” women in it, and as a way to channel their creative energies into the process of healing. While Cara is quick to conclude that obviously no one would have chosen to have been diagnosed with cancer in the first place, she firmly believes that she and the women of her writing group are in a better place as a result of having to confront their own mortality, and reassess their priorities in life.

As I reflect upon the lesson of this story, I find myself in agreement with the sentiments expressed by this author, namely, that many of us cancer survivors have learned “to be kinder, more compassionate, more life-affirming people and never to forget how much we still have to be grateful for.” I found this story to be life-affirming, without ever becoming maudlin.

I would encourage readers who are interested in honest writings about surviving cancer, losing one’s parents, and just everyday stories about raising children, becoming a writer, and hitting midlife to check out some of Cara’s other equally engaging, and often humorous writings. A full list of her publications, both online and in print, can be found on her blog Prose Posies.

Triple Good News

Last week’s Komen Lunch for the Cure that I attended raised $132,000!

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings, containing my cancer writing group story The Ten Best Things, is now available on Amazon( , at and presumably also at your favorite bookstore. I was excited to receive my contributor copies last week!

My streak of good luck seems to be holding. My story, The Eyes Have It, took first place in the Write On! Online October Challenge. ( What made this an extra special win for me, was that I was writing outside my comfort zone, trying my hand at fiction instead of non-fiction.

PAD Day 5

The prompt today was to write a growth poem. I skipped the obvious: the growth of a child, plant, relationship or investment. Instead, and probably because I am attending the Komen Lunch for the Cure later today, I thought of cancer cells, the one time that growth does not equate with happiness.


Malignant Cells
Like a dark stealth jet
You slipped under my radar
And grew to a mass.

My Day 3 haiku, Accentuate the Positive, would also work for this prompt.

Check out my “2009 Nov. PAD” page for a list of all the prompts and my haiku responses for the 2009 Poetic Asides PAD Chapbook Challenge.

More on Poetic Asides:

A Whole Egg, or Humpty Dumpty Revisited

I recently came across this piece I wrote two-and-a-half years ago, right after I had completed the first round of treatment for breast cancer. I was rereading T.H. White’s: The Once and Future King with my son at the time. Can you tell?

The prompt came from writing group, and it was simply to take a well-known poem or nursery rhyme and insert text between the lines. Try it!

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
“Well okay, I just want to set things straight here. I have been accused of everything from clumsiness to having a self-destructive streak, but that’s just not true! I am a law abiding, self respecting egg. I went to sit on the wall because it was a lovely sunny day, and because I wanted a better view of the tournament. Being short and round, I needed to be higher up to take in all the sights and sounds of pageant day. Who would have known what was to come?”

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
“True, true, I did. And this is how it came about. I was perfectly perched on the wall, with my weight evenly distributed, when a great cheer rose up from the crowd. A black knight rode out, his face completely obscured by his visor, and charged toward his adversary. It was as he unhorsed his opponent with some of the most skillful lance work I have ever seen, that I in my excitement leaned a bit too far forward, resulting in the famous “great fall” that you’ve doubtless heard so much about. “Fall” it was, “great” is another thing. It certainly wasn’t “great” from my perspective.”

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
“This is the part I don’t like to think about. I mean, all eggs take a tumble from time to time. It’s due to our shape: “middle heavy”, you can call it. It really takes quite a bit of practice to find our center of gravity. So I guess what I’m saying is that it was really no big deal that I took a tumble just when I did. But the king made a federal case of it; I mean, he called off the tournament just at the height of the excitement and had all of his knights, all of their squires, I mean everybody, come on horseback to assist me in my humiliation. By the end of the day, there wasn’t a subject in the entire kingdom who hadn’t heard about what had now gone from a “little tumble” to a “great fall”.

Couldn’t put Humpty together again
“Okay, and this was the final straw. Its not as if anyone is absolutely perfect, or that they don’t age and change as they go through life. It’s not as if I was mortally wounded. So I’m a little cracked now, and not quite so round and smooth as I was before, but for goodness sakes, I’m still whole. I’m not exactly the same as I was before, but I consider the cracks in my shell battle scars from my own personal “tournament”, if you see what I mean. I’m still me after all, a little rearranged, but very much a whole egg, and back together again. Well, now you know the true story behind my very public tumble. I’ll just have to be more careful in the future, I guess!”

“So now that you know how it happened, here’s the preferred version of the rhyme:”

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
On a bright and sunny day
He took a fall off the wall
But now, he’s quite okay!

Komen Wrap Up

I wanted to take the time once again to thank everyone who supported me in my fundraising efforts this year on behalf of the Komen Portland Race for the Cure. Not only did I meet my goal of raising $385, but I actually exceeded it with the wonderful support of family and friends and raised $527!

Thanks again to Holly, Haldan, Avra, Jeff, Tom, Emilie, Robert, Myra and John for their generous contributions. Thanks also to Douglas, Evan, Gabi, Candice and Jason for walking with me this year. Together we can make this disease a thing of the past! It is not too late to contribute. Although this current fundraising drive ends tomorrow, donations are accepted year round.