THE OTHER SIDE OF CANCER
LIVING LIFE WITH MY DYING SISTER BY ANNETTE LEEDS
THE SEDUCING THE PEN TOUR FOR THE OTHER SIDE OF CANCER: LIVING LIFE WITH MY DYING SISTER BY ANNETTE LEEDS
The Other Side of Cancer: Living Life with My Dying Sister is a passionate story of two sisters and their extraordinary bond and friendship reignited in the face of cancer. Listen to an heartfelt reading from the book.
Theresa conquered many hurdles in her lifetime, with victorious highs and shattering lows, but at fifty-four years old, she took on the biggest challenge of her life: advanced stage pancreatic cancer. Like most families, there are those times when moments in life tend to strain or burden relationships. Theresa chose humor in the face of death. Confronting her fate with grace, she taught everyone the true meaning of living life without regret. To those who loved her, she gave an amazing gift—showing them how to move past the sadness and truly enjoy the precious time she had left.
Annette, her baby sister, didn’t realize her strength until she held her sister’s life in her hands. As a writer, she did the one thing she thought would have the most impact. She picked up a notebook and chronicled the journey with Theresa, revealing the strength and inspiration of an amazing woman.
The two siblings shared a room as kids, and in the end, it was the same. A week or so before Theresa died, she told Annette, “This has been the best year of my life.” Most people would have thought she was crazy, but her little sister knew exactly what she meant.
Message from the Author/Sister Annette Leeds
In January 2016, an unbiased cancer claimed the life of my sister, Theresa. Memories are all I have now—some are so painful to recall, while others bring me tremendous laughter. Even though I know she isn’t physically with me anymore, when I think of her, I feel her presence so deep within my heart. When a chill runs through me, or a warm, loving feeling, I pray it is my big sister and not my imagination getting the best of me.
The crystal vase she loved so much is now where her ashes rest. As I pass the open door of her bedroom, there is no longer any sign of her, only an empty room she used to call home. I try to find comfort from my sorrow by lying on the floor in her room, staring up at the ceiling, hoping she sends me some sign that she is okay.
There are those days when I think I won’t be able to get through another day without her, avoiding those closest to me, angry with myself that I couldn’t save her. It is difficult to wake up each day without some thought of her, and the one question that plagues me: Why did it have to take her from me? I long for a time when the sadness subsides, but with that comes the reality that she is no longer here, making our family incomplete.
Growing up and into adulthood, we went through life protecting each other from harm, and yet, I was unable to protect her from this callous creature we call cancer. I will no longer have my sister, with whom I shared so many great times. The inside stories that only she and I understood have vanished, leaving me without my partner in crime.
I used my journal to shield myself from the pain. Documenting our time together, knowing when she was gone I had captured her last months in black and white. She showed me the meaning of bravery and strength. Her days were full and she embraced life and lived it while dying. There were so many times I was truly amazed at how gracefully she accepted what might lie ahead for her, as if someone had let her in on that big secret we all wonder about: Where do we go when we leave here?
She always believed that if your dreams didn’t scare you, they weren’t big enough. I know she is watching and smiling, helping me through my heartache with her infectious laughter and unwavering courage.
Read more and order your copy: http://annetteleeds.com/books
SEDUCING THE PEN TOUR SCHEDULE
DON’T BE AFRAID TO CARE
Taking care of someone you love in a time of need can be sometimes scary. I wanted to share some words of wisdom about being there for someone.
When my sister, Theresa, received her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, many things ran through my mind. But, the one question that stuck with me the most was, “Who would take care of her?” She was a single-career woman; she had the financial means, but would I want a stranger taking care of my sister in her last days?
In the beginning, I was nervous, but soon the urge to help far outweighed the fear.
There never was a question in my mind. I knew I would step in and be there for her. I kept a journal of our time together, knowing when she was gone I would have those memories. Yet, the memories I took away were more than I could have ever imagined; something that can never be replaced.
I can remember her worrying about me and how my taking care of her might take a toll on me. Even without any experience of caring for someone, I knew it was the best thing for her and our family. She moved in with me and that precious time we had changed my life forever.
I put aside my fears of caring for my terminally ill sister, and embraced the journey; giving my sister laughter, love and dignity until her last breath. — Annette
The Other Side of Cancer: Living Life with My Dying Sister by Annette Leeds
Kindle Download Link: http://a.co/d/jgahyBv
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BLACK PEARLS MAGAZINE INTIMATE CONVERSATION WITH ANNETTE LEEDS
Annette Leeds is a literary journalist. Born Annette Marie Guardino to her mother who is Belgium and father who is Sicilian, she is a native Californian and the youngest of six children. Being quite creative, Annette’s strong desire to write led her to her first book, a psychological drama, followed by two television comedy scripts. She has had other entrepreneurial ventures, including a logo sportswear clothing line.
BPM: Describe yourself in three words.
Spontaneous, Loyal, and Driven.
BPM: What drove you to publish your first book? How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first book, Hands of Fate in 2003. Since then I have written two television scripts as well. My desire to write my current book The Other Side of Cancer was brought about because of something very near and dear to my heart. In 2015, my sister was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I took care of her for a year and in that time, I journaled our time together, hoping to pay tribute to her when she passed away. The Other Side of Cancer: Living Life with My Dying Sister was created.
BPM: Introduce us to the people in the book! Give us some insight into your main speakers.
My sister was the most important person in this book. I knew her voice needed to be heard when she was gone. She showed all those around her that she was still living her life while dying. Being told she had terminal cancer was the most difficult news. But, picking herself up and trying to finish her journey to the end was much more powerful. Theresa did it with such grace; I felt like someone let her in on the big question we all wonder, “ Where do we go when we leave here?”
BPM: What’s so unique about their storyline or voice in the story?
The storyline is unique because it is a deeply personal story of my sister and her tremendous courage and strength. She embraced her terminal diagnosis and lived her life until the end.
BPM: Share one specific point in your book that resonated with your present situation or journey.
I guess the strength she exhibited gave me the strength to write the book. I wrote a journal and when I went back through it after a few months, I was truly amazed at the journey we had taken. There were things I wrote that I would have surely forgotten about, once she was gone and the tremendous pain of letting go of a loved one sets in. I was glad I had my own guidance to help me tell her story.
BPM: Are you involved in any charities or causes surrounding cancer?
I have since founded Find1cure, which is dedicated to finding a cure for cancer. Our primary mission is to donate to multiple cancer institutions dedicated to aiding in cancer prevention, early detection and treatment through fundraising and public engagement to help save lives. Cancer is not limited to those diagnosed. It affects family, friends and even co-workers. We strive to bring awareness and reassurance to those suffering from this callous disease and their loved ones who help fight the fight.
BPM: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?
My most recent book was based on my sister who passed away. She was an amazing, hard-working, driven woman who needed to have her story told. When she was diagnosed with cancer, I knew I needed to tell her story when she was gone. Not just her journey through this callous disease, but also the life she lived leading up to it. She had such drive in her to succeed. A message for all women who struggle to the top; to know it is possible to make it.
BPM: How did your family feel about such a passionate and personal part of their lives now being open to the public?
In most families, everyone handles grief differently. Some choose to ignore it while others try to face it head-on. I worried how my elderly parents would handle the book. Many things were revealed that they probably didn’t even know about their daughter’s life. But, they embraced it with such appreciation that I wrote the story. Not a day goes by that they don’t talk about it.
BPM: Any advice for others dealing with the grief process or taking on the role as caregiver?
There was never a doubt in my mind that I would take on the role of caregiver. Theresa fondly referred to me as “bossy” and I embraced that title proudly. I guess the best information I can give is to help that person live whatever time they have left. Try and put your feelings aside to help them with those last days, weeks or months. You will have time to grieve when they are gone. But, those times you can spend with your loved one will never come around again. Embrace it, own it; your memories will last you forever.
BPM: Moving on to publishing, have you ever received a rejection from an agent or a publisher?
I have, which led me to spread my wings and tell my sister’s story in a way I know will make her proud.
BPM: Do you ever have days when writing is a struggle?
Not really. When I am ready to write, I go for it. When I started The Other Side of Cancer, I stopped a few pages into my first try. I just wasn’t ready to let go. Let myself be so vulnerable. But, once I was ready, it flowed out of me like a fast moving river.
BPM: Have you written any other books that are not published?
Like most authors, my first book was never published. I really did it originally for myself to prove I could do it. No regrets, I loved the process.
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
I am currently focusing on Find1Cure. I know I can do good for those suffering from cancer. Whether it is donating proceeds of the book to cancer research or my ultimate goal of creating a home for those who don’t have someone to care for them. Theresa’s passion gave me a mission. A mission to make a difference. I have the potential and I feel it is now my job to make a difference.
BPM: What legacy do you hope to leave future generations of readers with your writing?
I guess to tell the story. No matter how painful or difficult. If there is a story that needs to be told, you owe it to others to learn from your experiences.
Order your copy of The Other Side of Cancer: Living Life with My Dying Sister
Visit Annette Leeds website for more information: http://annetteleeds.com/books
Available in hardcover and eBook on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com
The Other Side of Cancer: Living Life with My Dying Sister by Annette Leeds
Kindle Download Link: http://a.co/d/jgahyBv