This is a first for me, because I’ve never written about my personal battle with cancer. It’s not something I advertise on my social media, and there’s only one individual who could convince me to do it, my dear friend Tina DeSalvo. Can’t believe she’s outing me. But there’s another reason I don’t publicize my fight, and that’s because I don’t like the attention that goes with it. In truth, I shy away from attention, because it makes me nervous, and Tina can attest to that, since she sat beside me at the book signing at RT in Vegas. When people don’t know I’ve got cancer, they treat me like a normal person, and I can fade into the background. That appeals to me. When folks know, often I become the sick woman, the poor thing, or the cancer patient, and it’s a real party killer. I’m scary, because I remind folks of something they’d rather forget—their own mortality.
Since I’m still locking horns with The Big C, I can’t call myself a survivor, but I hope to someday, so I’ll say I’m surviving. I’m making it. I get up every day, make my coffee, grab a shower, and go to work in my home office, cranking out my stories in the hopes they bring someone a little fun in their life. For me, being an author allows me to step into another world, into the armor of a medieval knight, into the slippers of a Regency debutante, or into the Hessians of a down and dirty pirate. On my pages, I can be healthy, I can be happy, and I can live as I choose, without fear of a compromised immune system, blood counts, and chemo.
For a cancer patient, there’s no real escape from the reality associated with the disease. We never forget we’re in the fight of our life, but the love and support of our family and friends, as well as the medical professionals who cheer our victories, mourn our setbacks, and hold our heads as we puke for the nth time, helps us continue the battle. Indeed, no one tangles with cancer on their own.
When I was diagnosed, I was terrified, devastated, and numb. I didn’t say much in the doctor’s office. I grabbed a coffee at Starbucks, filled my gas tank, drove home, walked into my house, and took a baseball bat to my washer and dryer. Then I collapsed on the floor and cried. Yes, that was pretty dramatic, but I was feeling pretty dramatic. But I picked myself up, began researching various treatments, and became an active participant in my battle, and that’s where I remain. Fighting. My family says I’m strong. Friends call me brave. A close friend, more a sister, the late Judi McCoy referred to me as her rock. Others call me just plain weird; they know me well. If it’s all the same to you, I just want to be Barb.
Note from Tina DeSalvo: As many of you know, I don’t believe in accidents. Meeting Barbara was no accident. We were destined to meet at the time and in the way we did. Being that our names are very close alphabetically, DeSalvo – Devlin, we ended up sitting next to one another at a book signing. Something in the kind way Barbara smiled when I introduced myself to her, touched me in a profound way. As I’ve gotten to know her since then, I have learned why. She is one of those remarkable, generous, honest women whose goodness shines out from within. She is that quiet angel that performs incredible acts of love because of her graciousness. I am grateful to call her my friend.
Barbara has generously donated a Kindle Fire for a special Nurse or Staff member working with cancer patients from the randomly selected Cancer Center. The Kindle will be loaded with some books written by Barbara Devlin and me.