I’m an eighteen-year cancer survivor, beating (a stroke of luck really) the same nasty killer that took down Robert Urich of Spenser for Hire and Vegas fame. I was a young mother when I was diagnosed, with a three-month-old daughter and an eighteen-month-old son, and a frighteningly poor prognosis.
I don’t remember much of the next five years—surgeries, radiation, and doctors’ visits, while trying to enjoy every moment with my babies. The five-year mark is what we were shooting for, but it wouldn’t necessarily mean triumph. Robert Urich made it seven years before it took him.
Once you have it, I think, you never forget what you went through, or that a killer might still lurk inside of you.
Cancer shaped me. It forced me to choose. Either I could live with fear, or I could become fearless.
Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) tells stories of those who had to experience extreme lose before learning to really live. Stay in the present, he says, it’s where everything is happening.
The Secret tells us to believe in ourselves, to simply ask and prepare to receive, to stay positive and confident, and life will reward us.
I love both philosophies. They require us to enjoy the journey no matter where it takes us.
My seventh mystery is out this month. How appropriate that it arrives during the holiday season. And how grateful I am. While the path to publication wasn’t short, just as that lonely walk I took eighteen years ago wasn’t, I am grateful for every new page that has turned for me—sitting down to write that first all-important paragraph, the last page where I typed “the end” and popped open the champagne, the submissions and their promises, finally the “good” rejections, then interested agents and editors before holding a bound book with my name on the cover . . . the list of small joys is endless.
Gretchen Birch is the protagonist in Ding Dong Dead. She runs a doll restoration business with her mother, who is a breast cancer survivor. Her mom made the same choice I did. She became fearless.
Cancer taught me to soar. And to be thankful for small joys, because the really big ones don’t come by that often.
So wherever you are in your journey at this moment, take time to reflect, not on what you wish you had but on how much you already have.
I’m running a contest for a $50 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice! Here’s how to win. Get a copy of Ding Dong Dead, read it, go to my website (www.debbakerbooks.com) before January 15th and correctly answer three easy questions pertaining to the book. You will be entered into a drawing, which will take place at noon on January 15th. The winner will be notified through email and announced on my homepage. Good luck!