I knew when I wrote All in My Head: How a Hypochondriac Beat Brain Cancer that it might attract only a niche audience, i.e. people who have been touched by brain cancer or possibly any other cancer. But when the book came out, and it got some coverage in the local papers and radio, I began to think, “Hey, maybe this is bigger than I thought. Maybe I could go on Oprah or Ellen and it would hit the New York Times bestseller list. I need to lose weight. I need new clothes. I need a haircut.”
Then came an email from a woman named Lauren, the producer of a Los Angeles-based radio talk show called “Conversations with Maria Menounos.” She said that Maria’s mother, a brain tumor patient, had read my book and loved it. Oh My God. This was happening! She wanted to talk with me about being considered as a guest on the program.
Never one to count my eggs before they’ve hatched, I immediately posted to my Facebook page, “I’m going to Hollywood!” After a 15-minute telephone interview with Lauren, the guest spot seemed promising. But after weeks of waiting, I emailed her repeatedly and got no response at all. I finally accepted the fact that she was “ghosting” me and that there would be no conversation with Maria or Lauren again.
Maybe it was the Boston accent that did me in. Maybe I was trying too hard. Maybe she sensed that I was allowing the book to become about me and not the message. How could I argue with any of those scenarios? They were all at least partially true. But with the passage of time, I calmed down. I stopped trying to shove my book down everyone’s throat, including the teenaged gas station attendant at the Shell who couldn’t have cared less about my story.
So I quit promoting and started praying that God would help get All in My Head into the hands of people who really needed it. I reached out to anyone I knew or heard of who was fighting cancer. They sent me wonderful notes like this one from a high school classmate named Sharon who was in the middle of breast cancer treatments.
“I just finished reading your book and it was amazing. I was reluctant to read it, considering I am going through my own battle and still have quite a road to travel. I didn’t know how it would make me feel…It made me feel good, and happy and sad and all the things we go through while facing a life-threatening illness and trying to do it with humor, positivity and grace. I am going to write a note in my copy of your book and leave it in the chemo infusion center where I now go every week. I want people to know that it does get better and that somehow, no matter how we choose to make it through, we can do it. (P.S. I checked out your high school picture today. I remember you…those were the days, huh?)”
Actually, those weren’t really the days for me, Sharon. I was an insecure geek and you were a beautiful blonde and permanent member of the in-crowd. Forty years later, Sharon is still beautiful and blonde with a permanent pass to a much more impressive crowd–Breast Cancer Warriors!
My book now lives in cyberspace on the virtual shelves of Amazon.com. I’m told it’s a permanent residence, so its shelf life will be longer than mine and much longer than that hoity-toity New York Times Best Seller list. Who needs that anyway? Sigh…
These days, I’m not so obsessed with hyping All in My Head to the universe. Would I still like to have a Conversation with Maria Menounos – snobby producer not withstanding? Absolutely! And if I ever see Oprah Winfrey or Ellen Degeneres’ name on my caller ID, I’d trample my 13-year-old pug to get at the phone. But for now I’m doing all I can to put my story of survival against the odds into the hands of those who need it most.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and are feeling hopeless, contact me through my website at mariefricker.com. I’ll make sure you get the book, even if the $13.99 price tag is not in your budget. At the very least, you’ll get a few laughs at a time when you might not think that’s possible.
As my friend Sharon so eloquently put it, “I want people to know that it does get better, and somehow, no matter how you choose to make it through, you can do it.”