Ellie O’Brien is speaking tomorrow at the TEDxLangleyEd event. She shared these thoughts with us recently.

My publisher spent the better part of December hounding me for an answer to a question that is complex. She wanted ME to define who my intended audience is for my book, Twice: Unpacking Two Journeys Through Cancer. This seems like a simple question, but it really has multiple answers. And defining those different audiences are has been an important step in this process.

I felt our story was important. I began to write my book just after my oldest son had cancer, in 2013, but it was too raw and painful to relive.  I had several journals that I filled when he was sick, which helped me to record and remember the trauma we faced. I decided to put my writing on hold until my son reached the five-year remission mark, which he did this past summer.  Life took a different turn and in 2015, I got a breast cancer diagnosis. It’s still hard to believe our little family of four has faced cancer twice.

I think my book would benefit a family who is facing pediatric cancer.  There are very specific things that I learned during my son’s illness. Caring for a sick child is quite a learning curve.  My book would give other people insight on things that were done for us that were especially helpful.

I think any parent who has ever watched their child go through an illness and hospitalization–not necessarily cancer–would connect with my book.  I’m not afraid to admit that I went mad in every sense when we were thrown into the Children’s Hospital. Eventually, I was able to accept the situation, find faith, and develop a grateful heart; all of this helped me get through both my son’s illness and later on, my own.

In my book, I wrote a chapter on my journey with breast cancer which is deeply personal. Since I chose to be so transparent with my son‘s cancer journey, I decided that I should do the same for mine.  Although it’s advice that I would prefer to share with another woman in a private setting, I’ve chosen to publish it in my book. Eighty percent of women get the kind of cancer I had, which is Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.  I was diagnosed in Stage Two. When caught early, women have more treatment choices. Since I had just witnessed my boy go through chemotherapy, I felt strongly about avoiding this treatment, and I took a very aggressive approach to my cancer.  I think it’s an important story to share.

Twice our lives have been interrupted by cancer.  It really does change everything, and not necessarily for the worst.  Perhaps my book may remind readers to live life fully and more in the moment because tomorrow is not guaranteed.  Also, my message is to hold onto hope, because more people are living through cancer or living longer with cancer.

Before my book even begins, I begin with a prologue which addresses the unexpected passing of my mother seventeen years ago.  Every time I would tell someone that my son had cancer, I would always add, “and my mother died,” to the conversation.  For anyone that has ever lost a parent, they may connect with this part of my story.  

I’ve devoted my book to two little boys we knew who passed away from their cancers and to my colleague who fought hard against breast cancer that came back with a vengeance. I held onto my memories of them deep in my heart as I wrote my story.

The book should really come with some tissues as I’m pretty sure it will make you cry, but there are parts that will make you laugh, too.  There were a lot of life lessons and hidden blessings revealed during this time.

Long before it was a popular country song, my mother used to tell me what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  I’ve had to rely on that advice twice.

I’m ready now.

Tickets are still available for the TEDxLangleyED event, but we’ll provide a link to the recording when it’s available.

To read more about Ellie and her book, which is now available on Amazon, visit Ellie’s website. You can also follow Ellie now on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Sign up for exclusive email updates to learn more about Ellie as an author, and to follow her journey through the publishing process.

If you are an author with a dream of publishing, visit my website for more information about how to get started.