Articles Regarding Recent Book Releases - Spring 2009
Articles Regarding Recent Book Releases - Spring 2009
The Lancaster News - The Ultimate Mom by Chicken Soup
The Lancaster Daily News - The Ultimate Mom by Chicken Soup
The Lancaster Daily News - The Ultimate Mom by Chicken Soup
Suzie: How old were you when you were diagnosed with cancer, and what was your reaction?
Connie: I was 40 years old when I first heard the words, “you have cancer.” And I have to say it was the closest to an out-of-body experience I have ever gone through. I called the surgeon’s office to get the results because the weekend was looming, and I couldn’t go one more day without knowing.
Mark, my hubby, was standing beside me when I got the news; he caught me before I slid off the chair. My first words were, “What did I do wrong?” I was an avid runner, worked out faithfully, and ate tofu when no one else knew what it was, and I still got breast cancer! Shock was my initial reaction, followed closely by anger, fear, and denial. The shock finally wore off on the last day of treatment when the radiation oncologist gave me my true survival rate, and then I slipped into a “coma.” My family refers to that period of time as the “silent years.” Actually, it was only one month; it just seemed so much longer.
Suzie: Once the shock wore off, what happened then?
Connie: Facing my own mortality was the best thing that ever happened to me. Out of the “ashes” of my life came a newfound sense of the preciousness of life and the desire to make the most of every moment, and to live long enough to see my boys through safe passage into adulthood. They were just 9 and 14 when they heard the word, “cancer” in our family; they are now 22 and 27 pursuing passions of their own which my bout with breast cancer taught them to do.
One of the first things I did when God revived me from my “sleeping” state was to write down 27 things I wanted to do before I died. I’ve accomplished every single one—by God’s grace—except #27, parachute out of an airplane! I have replaced that one with a hot-air balloon ride which we will do on November 15th for our 33rd wedding anniversary.
Suzie: LOL! I love that. Who knew if you would have done those things otherwise! You speak to women around the nation who are breast cancer survivors. If you could put your message in one paragraph, what would it be?
Connie: Live in the present moment and pursue your passions! Stop putting on hold the things you’ve always wanted to do and make your passionate to-do list NOW. Don’t wait for a cancer diagnosis to start living—do it today. I wake up every morning and ask myself the same question, “This is your last day on earth; how do you want to leave it?”
Priorities come into sharp focus when you ask yourself that question. Cancer is a hard teacher, but the lessons are invaluable. A nurse oncologist gave me the best advice: “Cancer isn’t the end of life; it’s the beginning of a totally new life—one of joy, purpose, and passion.” I took her advice and I’m so thankful I did.
Suzie: As you know I'm also a BC survivor. Sometimes we get labeled by that title. Tell us about Connie, not the breast cancer survivor, but the woman.
Connie: The woman—Connie—is still a “little” girl. I find joy and wonder in the smallest of things, like watching the “sailboat” floating in the foam of my cappuccino. I laugh and giggle all through the day—mostly at myself because I do the silliest things. Today I looked for my car keys for 15 minutes, and they were in my hand the entire time. I just sat down on the porch step and laughed out loud for ten minutes until tears rolled down my face. I don’t consider it a true laugh until you cry real tears. I don’t take myself too seriously. My author friend, Kathy Pride, keeps me grounded in laughter when I get too serious!
My family is everything to me…my boys, my hubby and my extended family (all in California). And above all else, God is my center. I can’t start my day without Him. Before my feet touch the ground, I pray over my list of things to do and then I offer it up to Him. And sometimes, I find that the “Connie” things don’t get done at all, but the God things do. Balance is something that these past 12 years of cancer survivorship have taught me (and the subject of my next book).
Suzie: Many people don't know what to do or say when a loved one or friend is diagnosed. What is your advice?
Connie: I devote an entire chapter of my book to that very subject. I’ll never forget one letter I received that said, “What a horrible, awful thing that has happened to you—losing your breasts!” Well, first of all, I didn’t “lose” my breasts; they just got moved around a bit—okay a lot! Instead, I preferred humorous cards like the one I received when I couldn’t make up my mind about lumpectomy or mastectomy. It read: “When life hands you lemons, stick ‘em in your bra; can’t hurt….might help!”
Suzie: I totally agree. I wanted people to still see ME. I heard about cancer and all of the stats and treatment so much during that time from my treatment team, that when a friend or family member talked only about cancer I wanted to stand on the rooftops and scream, "I'm still me!". I still loved all the things I did the day before I found out I had cancer. I still loved to laugh. I wanted to talk about girlfriend stuff, life, laughter, family, God, and so much more. Great point, Connie.
Connie: My point is every person is different. The most important thing is to take your cue from the survivor. There are days when your loved one or friend will want to talk about everything from diagnosis to surgical treatment options. Other days, she may want to forget she even heard the word “cancer,” and wants to go feed the ducks. Other days, she may want you to hold her hand and just listen. In my book, I share helps and hints for the caregiver, family and friends on what to say and how to help during each phase of the cancer journey: shock, anger, fear, denial, depression, and living life passionately. The most important thing is to not disappear! Some of my friends did and I don’t blame them—quite frankly. But when in doubt about what to say, it’s better to make it brief and say, “We love you and you’re in our prayers.” You can never go wrong with that.
Suzie: You are a writer and a speaker. Tell us about a typical day or week in your life.
Connie: Typical, are you kidding? What’s a typical day…I want to know? My life has been a roller coaster since my husband broke his hip on Mother’s Day of this year while he was training for a triathlon. He just started back to work full-time this week and I’m four months behind on my life! This has prepared me somewhat for what “retirement” is going to be like.
Umm…normal—huh? Here’s a stab at it: I wake up around 7:00 a.m. and quickly “smother” the alarm with my pillow. After that I reach for my Bible with the to-do list and offer it as a “burnt” offering. After prayer and journaling, I head downstairs for breakfast and then I jog three miles (outside if nice or the gym if it’s raining!). Actually my jog is more of a hobble these days! Then I set banker’s hours (9:00 – 5:00 p.m.). I have learned to close the office door at 5:00 p.m., but that doesn’t mean that I don’t sneak back in again. It takes me about two hours to respond to e-mail and write personal notes, letters, and phone calls.
Then I plan for two hours of writing (since my next book is on BALANCE, I’m trying to live it). Then I take a brief lunch and walk with my digital recording device (that’s when I get all kinds of ideas—that and taking a shower. Running water triggers the “idea” center of my brain for some reason). I come back home and transcribe what I “talked” about. And then I check my e-mails again, write on my three blogs, and study (prepare and practice speeches). Before hubby gets home, I clean up the office and put the files that I’m working on in a red folder (most urgent); green folder is for the next day (second most urgent); and yellow means I have to wait for a response. Everything in my office is color-coded.
During the evening, I make follow-up phone calls unless they are meeting planners; I call before 5:00 p.m. Then I run around the house like a crazy person—cooking and cleaning—as if I spent the entire day doing it. The one luxury “item,” that I have is a cleaning service once a month and quite frankly I don’t know how I survived without it. It was a gift after Mark’s injury and the best gift I have ever received. On the weekends, I try to catch up on updating my Web sites, cleaning out my Inbox, and reading. Sunday is a day of rest (truly!), and nap time. All this is “normal” except for when I’m traveling—usually the months of May-June and October-January.
Suzie: You are offering a giveaway to readers of this blog who comment! Tell us about the giveaway.
Connie: Yes, isn’t this fun…something for FREE! I’m giving away a customized “Basket Full of Hope” in honor of breast cancer awareness month (that begins this next Wednesday). It includes: my book, Trading Ashes for Roses; breast cancer mug with herbal tea; breast cancer pin; “The Passionate Rose” by the Healing Garden (body scrub and lotion); Cards by Connie; Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate (is there any other kind?) with raspberry filling; a bath scrubby; scented candle; pink ribbon breast cancer socks, and a “Quiet Relaxation” CD.
Thanks, Suzie, for the opportunity to share a little bit about who I am and what I do. I think Momlogic is a great place I’ve so much enjoyed getting to know you. It’s always a joy when I find someone like yourself who has discovered their passion through going through the breast cancer journey. It’s nothing we wish on anyone, but what an amazing mixed blessing!
LADIES: To enter the giveaway, you need to comment on this post between NOW and next Friday at 8 a.m. One lucky winner will receive the giveaway with Connie's book (autographed personally to you or to a friend or loved one) and all the goodies!
In the News: I'm Glad I'm a Mom by Harvest House, interview by Jo-Ann Greene, Intelligencer Journal. Click here to read the article.
In the News: Interview by Jo-Ann Greene on The One Year Life Verse by Tyndale House Publishers: Click here to read the article.
Trading Ashes for Roses: From Pain to Passion by PublishAmerica
Connie Pombo is available for media interviews by calling 717-426-1180, e-mailing her at email@example.com or faxing at 717-426-4580.
About Trading Ashes for Roses . .
Ans: The book is ideal for all ages, all faiths, men and women—anyone who has experienced tragedy, pain, or loss. Although given from a cancer survivor’s perspective, each chapter gives helpful hints for the survivor, caregiver, family and friends during each step of the emotional journey. This is the book I wish I had when I was diagnosed, I wanted to say, “Here read this book! This is what I’m feeling and this is how you can help.” People are often at a loss at what to say and do when someone has cancer. One comment sent me into hiding for days: “I hope you don’t die a horrible, painful death like my dear friend with your same type of cancer!” Ouch! If you know someone going through the cancer journey, you will find all the “helps” and “hints” in this book invaluable
What makes this book so unique from other books of its kind?
Ans: Unlike other “cancer” books, this one has a passionate ending! Through my pain, I discovered my passion—speaking and writing. In fact, “Living the Passionate Life” has now become my most requested retreat topic. People want to know how to live passionate lives—they want their life to having meaning and purpose. Some of us just get a head start by discovering what is really important in life through some tragedy, pain, or loss. For me, it took a cancer diagnosis to discover what I was truly passionate about.
You are a breast cancer survivor and you share how through your pain you discovered your passion—can you explain?
Ans: When I was first diagnosed, I went through a deep depression. I was 40 years old and had two boys, ages 9 and 14. I thought my life was over, when in fact it was just beginning. As part of my recovery, I would take long walks and bring along my camera. I was amazed how through the lens of my camera, life was taking on new meaning and hope. I started giving photo cards as gifts to encourage others the way I was encouraged during one of the darkest times of my life. Later I started giving seminars on “When Someone You Know Has Cancer”—it was my way of giving back. It was through my pain, I discovered my passion of speaking, writing, and photography
What would you say to others experiencing the same difficulty?
Ans: Never give up hope! Every cancer survivor is a statistic of one. You can’t compare yourself or your disease with others. One of the first phone calls I made was to another survivor. That was the beginning of hope—someone who had survived for five years. Later I volunteered with the American Cancer Society and connected with other survivors. My hope and faith were strengthened by the experience.
You are the Founder of Women’s Mentoring Ministries. Can you tell us a little bit about the organization and what you do?
Ans: I founded Women’s Mentoring Ministries shortly after I was diagnosed as a way of giving back. There were significant women in my life who mentored me through my cancer journey. Mentoring relationships are vital, especially in our increasingly mobile society. I help the local church develop mentoring programs and develop stronger leadership teams.
If you could sum up this book in one word, what would it be?
Ans: Inspiring! Although the journey was painful—I wouldn’t wish cancer on my worst enemy—however the lessons I learned from the experience I couldn’t have learned any other way. The encouragement I received from others started me on a path to recovery and my deep faith in God sustained me.
I understand you have two other books in the works, what are they?
Ans: Actually, I am a contributing author to God Allows U-Turns: The Choices Women Make by Bethany House Publishers released in March 2006; co-author of Conversations on Faith by Insight Publishing with Dr. Robert Schuller, Dave Dravecky, and Ann Jillian; and I’m writing my next book, Living Life Passionately. It will be a compilation book—real life stories of those who have discovered their passion through great tragedy, pain or loss.
How do you intend to use the proceeds of the book?
Ans: A portion of the proceeds of the book will go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Thank you for your interest in the book Trading Ashes for Roses and I look forward to hearing from you.
Living Life Passionately,