I didn't really pick a theme going into the A to Z challenge, but all my posts so far have been about writing and books, which is fitting since that's the general theme of my blog. Today I'm going a little bit off-topic, but it ties in in a way.
"April is the month to fight back! Wear a daffodil to show your support for Canadians living with cancer and let them know that no one has to face cancer alone."
~The Canadian Cancer Society - FightBack.ca
If you follow my blog or if you've read my debut novel, Blue Sky Days, you'll know that cancer is a very personal subject for me. When I was eight, my dad was diagnosed with leukemia. He had a long, hard battle, and after two years in and out of hospital, he lost that battle.
I didn't set out to write a book about cancer. It wasn't a conscious thing. I don't personally enjoy reading 'depressing' books, and I refuse to read books like A Walk to Remember or My Sister's Keeper, because I know the outcome. I watched someone I love suffer and die from leukemia, I don't need to read about it. So why did I write about it? There's really no simple answer for that. Bits and pieces of the idea for Blue Sky Days had been coming to me for awhile, and I started actually writing it when a good friend of mine was diagnosed with leukemia in 2004.
I'm not giving anything away by telling you that in the book, Nicholas is diagnosed with cancer - it says that right in the synopsis - but I don't want to tell you too much else, just in case you have any interest in reading the book yourself. But if you've read the book, or have no intention of reading it, here's a spoiler: I wanted the book to be about hope and strength and love. BIGGER SPOILER (highlight if you want to read): I wanted it to be about survival for both Nicholas, and his loved ones who had to watch him go through it. I gave Nicholas the happy ending that my dad, and that my friend who was diagnosed in 2004, didn't get. Not every cancer story has a happy ending, but Blue Sky Days did. It was a way of honouring my dad and my friend, and all the other people out there who didn't survive, or who did survive and are living happy, healthy lives.
In the book, Emma discovers a passion for photography. She creates a photo book and donates the proceeds to the Canadian Cancer Society. I wanted to work that into the story, because the CCS was a huge help to my family when my dad was sick. The cancer hospital was two hours away from where we live, and if it weren't for their volunteer service of people driving cancer patients to appointments or hospitals, I have no idea how my dad would have gone back and forth. Eventually, I would love to have a huge event where I donate a percentage of proceeds from sales of Blue Sky Days to the Canadian Cancer Society. I had actually hoped to do it this month, but sales are so modest it wouldn't have amounted to much! Hopefully someday soon that will change and I'll be able to recruit people's help to raise money.
If you're able to make a donation, please visit the Canadian Cancer Society site. If you live here in Canada, please wear a daffodil this month to show your support. There's a Pin Locator on the site to help you find where to get one in your area. You can also find out where the funds go, and learn more about the programs and people you'd be helping by donating. Please do whatever you can - even if it's just spreading the word - and help fight back against cancer!