Women of Class

The stories of 30 women who battled breast cancer with hope, humor and courage.
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Sara Fortune Robison
Writing
Liberty, Missouri
United States
1 Team Member

As Sara Robison, I have published articles and poetry in local newspapers--including The Liberty Tribune and The Kansas City Star. This is my first book. 

About The Book:

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, 900 women a week were dying of it. Thankfully in 2012, that figure was reduced to 760 women per week. That is still too many! While there are new drugs available, some women with breast cancer still have to take chemo with all its debilitating side effects.

A few months ago, I gave a talk about "Women of Class" and was encouraged to publish the book. It contains my own story plus the stories of 29 anonymous women's experiences while going through breast cancer diagnosis, surgery, treatments, family matters and dealing with depression. In addition to our stories, I have included information that should be of help.

I have posted "Sara's Notes", that includes segments of three other women's stories and "SOS for Caregivers and Loved Ones" at the bottom of this page just before the contribution button.

Even with cancer as a subject, you will find lots of humor in this book because humor gives relief. Heaven knows, we thirty women needed relief as we experienced breast cancer.

Here's How You Can Help

I'm hoping to raise $3,030 with this campaign. The money will be used to cover expenses such as having the book edited, made available on Kindle and Nook, paperback, getting ISBN, copyright and distribution of books,etc. If I raise more than that amount, I will use the extra money for marketing. To contribute go to the bottom of this page and click on the red button that says: Contribute Now.

The Goal:

You can help us reach as many women, diagnosed with breast cancer, and their families as soon as possible. I would love to have this book out before Christmas. However, this is my first book and I don't quite know what to expect. I'm playing it safe by estimating January 2014. Be assured, if it is ready before then, you will receive it earlier.

If we don't reach our goal, we will still publish, but may have to cut back to Kindle and paperbacks or possibly just Kindle.

About the Perks:

By pledging, you will be listed in the back of the book as a "Woman of Class Philanthropist". Plus, I will be providing my original bookmarks that you may want to keep or share with friends. I have three unique designs. One of my designs includes my drawing and story of "A What". I look forward to seeing you on the list...and I know, like all the women I interviewed, you will be at the top of the class!

Other ways you can help:

If you are unable to contribute, you can make lots of noise about this project. Pass it on to your friends, neighbors, relatives and acquaintances via Facebook, Twitter, Email, Youtube, etc. We never know who has been touched by breast cancer... You can also like our Facebook page, "Women of Class Book"--just press the Facebook like button underneath my video. If you are on a blog site, I would appreciate your mention of this book.

Please use the Indiegogo share tools to let other folks know you think they should consider helping with this project. 

Thanks for reading and for your consideration! 

One of the women I interviewed wanted to share the following with you:

Created by the Alton Chapter of Make Today Count at Saint Anthony's, 1983. Special thanks to Saint Anthony's Hospital for reprinting permission.

                   25 Practical Tips For Those Facing Serious Illnesses

When someone is facing an illness, especially a serious illness, we often feel helpless. Here are some practical tips to really help someone facing an illness...from people who have been there...

 1. Don't avoid me. Be the friend...the loved one, you've always been.

 2.Touch me. A simple squeeze of my hand can tell me you still care.

 3. Call to tell me you're bringing my favorite dish and what time you are coming.    Bring food in disposable containers, so I won't have to worry about returns.

 4. Take care of my children for me. I need a little time to be alone with a loved    one. My children may also need a vacation from my illness.

 5. Weep with me when I weep. Laugh with me when I laugh. Don't be afraid to      share this with me.

 6. Take me out for a pleasure trip but know my limitations.

 7. Call for my shopping list and make a "special" delivery to my home.

 8. Call me before you visit, but don't be afraid to visit. I need you. I am lonely.

 9. Help me celebrate holidays (and life!) by decorating my hospital room or          home. Or bring me tiny gifts of flowers or other natural treasures.

10. Help my family. I am sick, but they may be suffering. Offer to come and stay    with me to give my loved ones a break. Invite them out. Take them places.

11. Be creative! Bring me a book of thoughts, taped music, a poster for my wall, cookies to share with my family and friends...an old friend who hasn't been to       see me.

12. Let's talk about it. Maybe I need to talk about my illness. Find out by asking    me: "Do you feel like talking about it?"

13. Don't feel we always have to talk. We can sit quietly together.

14. Can you take me or my children somewhere? I may need transportation to a    treatment...to the store...to a doctor.

15. Help me feel good about my looks. Tell me I look good considering my             illness.  

16. Please include me in decision making. I've been robbed of so many things.     Please don't deny me a chance to make decisions in my family...in my life.

17. Talk to me of the future. Tomorrow, next week, next year. Hope is so            important to me.

18. Bring me a positive attitude. It's catching!

19. What's in the news? Magazines, photos, newspapers and verbal reports        keep me from feeling the world is passing me by.

20. Could you help with cleaning? During my illness, my family and I still face:       dirty clothes, dirty dishes, dirty house.

21. Water my flowers.

22. Just send a card to say, "I care."

23. Pray for me and share your faith with me.

24. Tell me what you'd like to do for me and, when I agree, please do it!

25. Tell me about support groups so I can share with others.

                                                              ###

                                 SOS for Caregivers and Loved Ones

If you have a loved one with breast cancer--you can help by being supportive. This may be especially hard for husbands. As the protector of the family, it may be hard to accept that you have no control over the situation. Living with a women going through breast cancer can be equal to driving your car up Independence Pass, hitting a slick spot and sliding toward the edge.

So what can you do? Listen to what she has to say. Listening is the most important thing you can do. When she shares her feelings, don't be judgmental. No one can control how they feel. Feelings are neither right or wrong--they just are. Be an active listener. One way to do this is to say, "I hear you saying...," and repeat back to her the thoughts she shared with you. Don't think about your response or how you can fix it--JUST LISTEN.

Attend oncologists visits with her whenever possible. It helps her to know that you are in this together. If you are unable to go with her, encourage her to take a friend or a relative. I even had a new customer from the store volunteer to drive me to the plastic surgeon. My husband, Lynn, attended every oncologist visit with me. I felt like we were in this fight together.

Barbara's husband, Tom, said, "Barbara would tell me she could go for chemo treatments by herself. That was unrealistic--the treatments made her too sick. When I couldn't go, my mom or dad went with her."

Tom also suggested keeping a journal and documenting drug treatments.

Another friend, Harold, who lost his wife to breast cancer, had this advice, "Take life one day at a time. Norman Vincent Peale's book, "Have a Great Day", and Billy Graham's book, "One Day at a Time", were very helpful to both of us.

In addition, Harold offered this advice, "Don't pull away from people. If you do, you will feel alienated. People are willing to help, but sometimes they don't know what to do. If you ask them to do something concrete, they will do it. By reaching out to others, it can help them, too."

If your wife or loved one is depressed, encourage her to get help by attending a support group, seeing a counselor, or both. It is hard to always be brave and supportive--you may need counseling, too.

Encourage her in dreams she wants to pursue. Lynn was so supportive in my writing of this book. Working full-time, I could not have accomplished it without his help. For instance, he did most of the evening cooking and cleanup while I wrote.

With breast cancer, the family feel they are facing an insurmountable object--like a large elephant in the living room. At some point, they may come to realize breast cancer poses the question--How do you climb over an elephant? One step at a time.     

                                                         ###

NOTES FROM SARA

The big "C" changed my life. I learned to live life one day at a time and not to put off doing the things I want to do...like writing a book, telling people I love them and savoring each moment as it come. At first, I felt the big "C" was a millstone, but now, it has become a milestone in my life.

The following are excerpts from "Women of Class"...

JAMIE

"I would come home at night and take a pain pill to ease the pain of my breast expanders. One night, I had changed into my pj's and put on a beanie to keep my bald head warm. I was spaced out and talking to my mother on the phone. I saw my cat run by on the wall shelving, as if he was chasing something. I thought, Am I seeing things? Suddenly, something hit the TV and landed in my lap. It was alive!"

Jamie screamed, threw the phone and jumped up. All her mother heard was screaming. She couldn't get the phone to disconnect, so ran to the next-door neighbors and dialed 911. Then she called Jamie's next-door neighbor and went racing over to Jamie's house. Jamie was outside having hysterics by this time. A squirrel had landed in her lap. Apparently, it had come down through the chimney. Friends came in and tried to catch it and they all laughed--even the police laughed.

ELIZABETH

"I thought I was going for some R&R or something. I took books to read and cards to play."

With a grin she went on, "I had packed like I was going to the South Seas. The doctor told me I would be in the hospital five to seven days, so i had seven lovely gowns to wear. One was a Mickey Mouse--I thought I'd have some fun with this."

From my experience with the same surgery, I can tell you Elizabeth didn't get to use any of those gowns in the hospital. In addition, she didn't have much fun either.

BARBARA

Barbara showed those pretty dimples when she recalled an incident at the doctor's office.

"I hate  to get on the scales to get weighed. They write down, 'with shoes,' and I told them they need to add, 'with prosthesis.' I've threatened to take it off before they weigh me. I have the new type of prosthesis that you attach to your skin. It's heavy and you can almost almost shimmy in it; it bounces just like a real breast.

She was smiling now with all that little girl exuberance. "I feel like a drag queen at night because I take off my wig and I take off my breast. I also have a device to hook the 'chemo' up to--it's called a Hickman (port). What you see now is not what you get."    

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This campaign ended on October 30, 2013
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