I recently received this note from a survivor and mother of three:
I just want to thank you for thinking of us and bringing that wonderful book over last night. Oh my! As I read it with the kids with tears in our eyes, all three of the kids had said what I was feeling in my heart, "Mom it is like you wrote this book." One of the kids would smile and say "Mom we talked about that" I truly felt like someone has been with us during this journey and put our days in a book. It was a comforting and perfect ending to our day. I know you said you wanted to give the book to us before, but yesterday's timing was a gift. Now the kids' wheels are tuning and wanting to create a book for children to know that not all cancer takes parents and loved ones away. Something that says cancer is not fun but life still can be. That is my kiddos with their great big hearts Thanks again for looking out for us (and over at us) and checking in."
Lydia, a brave and special friend of mine decided to read "Still Me" during a church service one Sunday morning. With her Grandpa,( Rev. David Breen), by her side and children nestled closely around her feet, she reads "Still Me" beautifully. Shortly after this video was filmed, her Grandfather went to be with His Lord after battling his own cancer journey. I am humbled and honored that this book became a part of a treasured moment that will be cherished for a lifetime. Click here to view the video.
I had the wonderful privilege of being interviewed and sharing "Still Me" on the Maranda Show here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was able to share the unique perspective the book takes, the touching relationship felt between the child and his mother, and the personal journey I took that created the inspiration for the book. What a special opportunity this was and an unforgettable Mother's Day experience. I hope you had a terrific Mother's Day!
Check out an article by Sue Schroder on Mlive.com about Still Me here.
It all began one afternoon while visiting The Gilda's Club recently. I was meeting with a social worker in the hopes of reading and sharing my book with the families that participate in the cancer support programs they offer. After introducing ourselves, we entered the "It’s always something" room. We sat down on comfy chairs and began a candid conversation. She commented on how much she enjoyed my book and then kindly asked me to share my story.
She was easy to talk to and her empathic spirit soon became apparent. As she listened intently to my every word, I found myself becoming more vulnerable, open, and transparent. I couldn't stop myself. A flood of emotions came over me. I unintentionally began exposing my emotional war zone and aftermath from my cancer diagnosis. The list began: The crippling fears of it coming back, the damaged relationships, the anger and feeling powerless, the frustrations of horrible options, the doubts, and the insecurities of my new bodily image. I also shared the joys when given good news, the hope of a new beginning, the new relationships and friendships that were formed, the reassurance that I’m not alone, and the unconditional love that was shown to me daily. It was at this point she mentions a profound statement, "There is NO expiration date with a cancer diagnosis". The Lord knew I needed to hear that! Yes! Physically I have been healed, but cancer is forever embedded to my soul. It is branded in my heart. Whether you are standing on the starting blocks of your cancer journey or a 20 year survivor who has crossed the finish line, the date reads eternal. God's love and faithfulness has no expiration date either. He continues to mold, shape, and use my unexpired diagnosis until His work in me is complete. I heard a cancer survivor say once that "Cancer doesn’t DEFINE her but REFINES her." I'm not damaged goods, but aged wine that only gets better with time!
When I reflect and allow myself to be still, I see God's faithfulness and His little touches everywhere. Through each trial and tribulation He remains close and constant; never changing. May the faithfulness of His birth and the promise of His return go with each of you this Holiday Season.
Words can not express the heartfelt thanks and immense gratitude i feel towards each and everyone of you who believed in the mission for Still Me. From the outpouring support with donations, to all the prayers and words of encouragement i have received along the way. It brings me so much joy and happiness to be able to give back to each of you with your copy of the book. Please take great pride in the knowledge that you played a huge role in helping make this dream become a reality. God is so Good!!
With much gratitude,
Despite the inclement weather for Saturday, September 22nd, I was ready and willing to walk in the Susan G. Komen race no matter what. The meteorologist had been forecasting rain, wind, and cold temperatures for the day of the race. You would think after living in Michigan my whole life, I would have learned not to put much faith into the forecast. But, me being the eternal optimist I believed in their percentages that the rain was coming.
This race is significant for a few reasons. One, I’m a 7 year survivor. I believe in encouraging others along their own journey, and most importantly, I have a strong desire to support my friend Ellen by walking in her honor on Team Van-Ossme(Ellen’s team). Like me, she was 29 years old when she received word that she had breast cancer. Her courageous fight ended on July 20th, 2012, and at that moment she began celebrating her cancer-free victory in heaven. She was an amazing daughter, sister, and mother. She was a loving wife, and wonderful friend to many. Her faith in the Lord was unshakable. Ellen was devoted to finding a cure for this horrible disease, a fierce competitor in raising the most donations (which she had accomplished the past two years). And to make this day even more special, it happened to fall upon Ellen’s birthday!
On Friday morning, the day before the race, I went to pick up our Team Van Ossme T-shirts from one of Ellen’s closest friends. We began having a conversation about Ellen. We discussed how much she was going to be missed, how weird it will feel not having her there. I mentioned how unfortunate the forecast sounded for the race. She proceeded in telling me that Ellen would say,” It always rains on my birthday”!
Saturday morning arrived; I strapped on my walking shoes and looked outside to make my own assessment of the weather. The ground was shimmering with raindrops and dew, the leaves were heavy and drooped, and for a moment I believed the weather men may have gotten the forecast right.
We spotted Team Van-Ossme, which were 158 members strong, hidden somewhere behind the sea of pink and thousands of people. I began to notice the sky open up. I felt the sun beginning to warm my skin. And at that moment I knew Ellen was celebrating her birthday with us and telling our Creator,” Take good care of my peeps”!
During the race, the weather was perfect, not a cloud in sight, not a single rain drop fell. But as morning changed to afternoon, so did the weather. And just as Ellen predicted, it began to rain!
Celebrating you on your 33rd birthday will never be forgotten! Love you E!
Each person experiences a different cancer journey, yet they all begin with the same three words,” you have cancer”. My journey began with me sitting on my couch, by myself holding the phone to my ear allowing those words from my surgeon to sink in. Quickly my body pulled itself into a fetal position, trying to go to a small, safe place. Panic took over and all I could do is scream and cry with no one listening other than my God. At that moment, a sense of calm came over me, and I was reminded that I wasn’t alone. God was way ahead of me and the road I was about to travel was marked with love, faithfulness, and clear direction of where to go one step at a time.
My stepdaughter was 7 years old at the time and was completely unaware of how her life was about to change. As most parents, I wanted to protect her, shield her from this ugly monster that quickly invaded our peaceful life. So who do you call? Not the Ghostbusters, but Grandma for her, and my parents, husband, and close friends for me! With eagerness I called upon my troops, and without hesitation they responded. With lily(my stepdaughter) occupied by a swing outside, my support system circled around me, laying hands upon me, lifting up earnest prayers to God.
As I began to travel through my cancer journey toward healing, I was confronted with how my role as a wife, teacher, and mother would change. I had so many questions, and very few answers. How could I explain the complexity of cancer, the overwhelming fear of the unknown, and yet provide reassurance to my stepdaughter and the other children in my everyday life? The search was on to find the answers to these questions with little positive results. I soon discovered children’s books about cancer often involved death (which is understandable) but was difficult for me to read, or symbolism that I feared would only cause more confusion. God equipped me with a new phrase which I voiced on a daily basis. These three words became a powerful tool in providing reassurance and comfort during the difficult time of uncontrollable change. The three harsh words that began my cancer journey quickly faded and were replaced with a calm whisper in my ear, “it’s still me”.
I would never define myself as a writer. I’m just an ordinary woman juggling marriage, motherhood, and teaching rambunctious preschoolers.
Someone recently asked me, “What was your life like before your diagnosis?” This is a very loaded question and one I haven’t thought about. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t really remember. Everything is a blur. There are bits and pieces I can recall, like feeling confident that I had nothing to worry about, to experiencing a mammogram for the first and last time. I remember dreaming of starting a family, and furthering my college education. I remember the unusually warm March we had. Normally there is a foot of melting snow mixed with mud blanketing the ground. But there I was lying on a beach towel in my backyard, letting the hot sun brown my white skin. This random day actually led me to call my doctor. The discomfort I felt while lying on my stomach that sunny afternoon was a reminder it was there. This led to an appointment two weeks later with my breast surgeon for whom I had seen two years previous because of the same lump. I was told then that it was a clogged duct, but if it was still there in six months to come back. Well, there I was 2 years later with the same lump, same size, but this time a more aggressive approach was being taken. My surgeon suggested we remove the lump because of my family history and the fact it was still there. (My grandmother had passed away from breast cancer at the age of 49, and my aunt was just diagnosed with breast cancer). I remember thinking, ”all this fuss over a pea sized bump is just precautionary”. I remember feeling nervous about the surgery more than the fear of it being cancer. My medical past consisted of a broken wrist and three stitches in a finger when I was five, so facing surgery for the first time at the age of 29 was a new experience in my world.
But once that phone call hit my ear and I heard the word “cancer”, life stopped dead in its tracks. And from that moment on my so called “normal” life was replaced by my new reality. I was instantly paralyzed by fear. And the course of my life quickly took a sharp turn down a road called “Why…me”?
My name is Rebecca DuBois and I live with my family in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I am married and the mother of two girls, a 7 year old daughter, and a 15 year old step-daughter. I'm currently teaching preschool at AnchorPoint Christian School and I have an Early Childhood Development degree from Grand Rapids Community College.
My family upbringing consisted of a mixture of adopted siblings, foster brothers and sisters, and variety of individuals who needed a place to call home. I developed a strong love for all children during those influential years. At an early age I witnessed the importance of prayer, modeling God's unconditional love for EVERYONE, and His endless faithfulness. My unique childhood experiences and Godly guidance from my parents equipped me with the tools I would need to process, fight, and ultimately survive the toughest battle I would have to face....
In the spring of 2005 my life changed forever. The news came announced but not invited that I had breast cancer. With chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, including a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, and much prayer and support from family and friends, I am cancer free and feeling great! Through this journey God has once again taught me about His faithfulness, about the power of prayer, and that even with cancer, God can do so much good.
I felt inspired to write a children's book based on my personal experience and its affect on my family, friends, and the children I dealt with on a daily basis. With cancer comes change. Children in particular struggle with understanding and processing this change. I found myself repeating the phrase "it’s still me" over and over again. My love for children and my personal journey provided me with the passion to write this book. My prayer is that God will use this book to provide hope and encouragement to the families who are touched by cancer. I hope it can be a tool to help explain the journey a loved one may go through, and the reminder that you're never alone.