Thursday, October 07, 2010

An allegorical journey through cancer


In the fairytale, Hansel and Gretel managed to find their way back from the unfamiliar woods after resourceful Hansel secretly dropped little stones along the path. Paradise writer Jan Hasak uses a fairytale motif to tell the story of her own journey though breast cancer and lymphedema. Pointing out ten stones as she finds her way back, she finds each stone opening the door to poetic reflection, sometimes humorous, sometimes deeply moving.

"The Pebble Path: Returning Home From a Forest of Shadows" ($11.95 in paperback from is the heartening story of how cancer can turn life upside-down but then transform life, enrich it. Through the author's Christian faith and her spouse's unfailing good humor. the story unfolds of "a lass named Fanciful" and her Prince Charming, Farcical ("zany and hip"), and their children, Fine, Dandy, and Ending.

"Buzzing about her hive making money, Fanciful busied herself with work, jogging, church, and parenthood. In the midst of this hubbub, when Ending was almost four, Fanciful found a lump in her breast. A mysterious pebble-sized mass. Her whole world crashed. Can there be life happily ever after at the end of such a story?"

Hasak will be signing her book this Saturday from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. at Lighthouse on the Ridge bookstore, 5913 F Clark Road in Paradise (inside the James Square Shopping Center).

She is also scheduled to be interviewed on Nancy's Bookshelf with Nancy Wiegman on Friday, October 29 at 10:00 a.m. on KCHO (Northstate Public Radio, 91.7 FM).

Hasak's Fanciful journeys from the first pebble, "the Gnome of Diagnosis," through "Goldilocks and the Three Chemo Bears," "Facing the Radiation Hag," on into "Fairying Beyond Remission."

From "Lone Rangers": "When in heaven I behold / Those who gave me chemo / Tributes many shall unfold / Nurses reign supremo." And from "Chemo Makeover": "Beauty is but fleeting short / Though we laser mole and wart / Witty comebacks healing bring / Humor melting frost to spring."

In "Double Gourd Lamp" the poem reflects Hasak's new body shape: "A most surprising gift / to me? Double gourd lamps back in / vogue, basic dispellers of / shadows, spelling / hope for my own restoration, a lovely / lamp reflecting wonders of what my Lord has done."

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