Let me first say that this note has nothing to do with my book release, book reviews or any books in general. However, it is probably the most important thing I’ll ever write.
A few weeks ago, I noticed a few large lymph nodes in several areas on my body, and decided to go to the doctor. I won’t go into the entire story, but after a series of doctors visits, I ended up at a hematologist. She examined my lymph nodes, ordered a CT, and happened to ask me if I did self-breast exams. My answer was yes, because I honestly believed going to the GYN once a year was enough at 32. They don’t even suggest mammograms until 40 right? Right.
Yesterday, I received my test results. They’d found several large lymph nodes, and a lump…in my breast.
Wait, what? This kind of thing just doesn’t happen to woman my age, I tried telling myself, as I sobbed in my husbands arms. But, much to my surprise, it does.
I’m not as invincible as I thought.
In the last 24 hours, I’ve had a biopsy, mammogram, and ultrasound, and according to my surgeon, this is just the beginning for me as far as tests go. I’m still a little numb, and I find myself saying “But wait! I’m only 32!!”
Breast cancer just isn’t something my friends and I talk about. I don’t think it’s a stage we’ve even entered yet. Maybe we’ve had a family member who’s been diagnosed, but none of us have really ever thought about it personally. At least, I know I haven’t. I remember watching an episode of “Beverly Hills, 90210” where Brenda finds a lump in her breast at 18, and her doctor tells her it’s very rare. I think, in my mind, the term “very rare” has always excluded me somehow. “Oh, it’s rare…ok, well then I guess I’m safe.”
I’ve heard the GYN’s speech, and seen the pamphlets telling you to do monthly breast exams, and yes…I knew it was important. But I always figured it was only important to women over 40. I thought, because I was young, and in the “rare” category”, I was untouchable.
Yesterday was a big wake up call for me.
So why am I sharing this with all of you? I’m hoping that when you read this, you’ll do what I didn’t and make a point to include self-breast exam into your monthly routine. I’ve learned that becoming familiar with our bodies is our greatest defense against cancer.
I still don’t have a diagnosis. I could have some sort of lymphoma, or I could have breast cancer. I could also be one of the many who has nothing wrong at all, and my life will return to normal in a few weeks. But you better be damn sure I will be becoming very familiar with my tatas in the future.
So do me a favor. Share this with your sister, and your mothers. Share this with your best friends, and your co-workers. Share this with the 30-somethings who think they’re invincible like me. We’re woman, and we need to stick together, and take care of each other…boobies and all.
If you need some place to start, check out this great websites where you can learn how to do self-breast exam, learn about early warning signs, and even sign up for monthly reminders!
Before I was a writer, I was an avid, devoted (obsessed) reader. Teaser’s are, by far, one of my favorite things to look forward to while waiting patiently (0k, not so patiently) for a book to come out. So, knowing there are probably at least a few book crazies out there like me, I try to fill the habit by supplying as many sneak peaks of “When You’re Ready” as I can.
Today, I decided to go the visual route and add some graphics! Oooohhh, pretty! I know, I’m so talented. Ok, I confess…I didn’t do them. My husband did. He wasn’t so excited about editing graphics of half-naked men, but he agreed, because he loves me. 🙂
So here there are, a few brief teasers. Hope you enjoy!
In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I’d give you a special moment from “When You’re Ready” featuring Clare and her mother. Mom – was thinking of you when I wrote this.
My Mom always seems to know the right words to say and the exact moment to say them.
I nodded, letting the tears fall freely down my cheek. And just like she used to do when I bruised a knee or came home from school with another broken heart, my mom pulled me into her arms and held me. Her warm, familiar embrace gave me the comfort only a mother could.
“Does this man make you happy, Clare?” she asked softly.
“Yes Mama,” I answered, pulling back to look into her beautiful green eyes that mirrored my own.
“Do you love him?”
“I think so. I don’t know yet,” I answered honestly.
“Take your time, sweetie. Know your heart before you give it away.”
When You’re Ready by J.L. Berg – Copyright 2013
As a reward to my facebook fans, for reaching 100 followers, I posted another teaser today!!
So I thought I’d share it here as well, enjoy!!
As always, here is my disclaimer. This is from my unfinished manuscript and still a work in progress. This is not the final draft, and is is subject to change.
Oh, and viewer discretion advised. 🙂
“He came over to your house?” Leah whispered from the mat next to me as I arched my body, progressing through the movements of our Wednesday morning yoga class. In the last year, I had enrolled Maddie in preschool for a few mornings each week and if Leah’s schedule allowed, we always tried to make this class together. It was nice having a bit of “me time” with my best friend, even if she was currently trying to get us kicked out with her chattering.
“Yes, we ran into him at the home improvement store down the street, and he just offered to do the entire project for me. The store had me so turned around, I couldn’t refuse,” I whispered back, quietly moving into plank, enjoying the feel of my muscles as they flexed and lengthened. I tried to center myself; concentrating on the movements I was transitioning to when Leah interrupted me again. I really needed to find a new yoga partner.
“More like he had you so turned on, you couldn’t refuse!” she exclaimed, a bit loudly, earning a scowl from the older woman next to us. Great, now I could never come back here again. We pushed back into the cricket pose and stretched back, settling into plank again.
“Leah! Shut up!” I hissed, keeping my voice lowered to a hush, hoping the grumpy old lady next to me wouldn’t overhear.
“It wasn’t like that. He was very nice, and a complete gentleman. I assisted and he did, well, whatever you do when you put that type of thing together, and then he left. That’s it.”
I left out certain parts, like how I playfully threw jelly beans at his head, or when I got choked up seeing him going down the stairs with Maddie in his arms.
She glared at me in disbelief, but allowed us to continue our class in peace. I think even she had been a little scared of the grumpy lady with the evil-eyed stare.
We finished up and wandered over to a coffee shop about two blocks down from the yoga studio. It was one of our favorite places to visit during the spring. The owner, Phil, was obsessed with potted plants, vintage wrought iron tables, and anything else that screamed shabby chic. And yes, if all that didn’t clue you in, he was gay. It was a brutal crime against all women because the man was fine. He’d done some modeling when he was younger and it showed in his chiseled physique and turquoise green eyes. Women all over Richmond came to this coffee shop, and it wasn’t just because he could make a mean cup of coffee. Gay or not, he was a fine sight to see.
After saying our hellos to Phil and getting our weekly “ogle” in, we made our way to the outdoor seating area. “You know, this probably cancels out everything we just did in class,” I said, pointing to the double mocha’s and chocolate muffins we had ordered. Did I mention Phil baked? It really was a crime. His partner was a lucky, lucky man. I took a seat next to Leah at the table we selected. It was a beautiful spring morning with the perfect amount of sun and warmth. I leaned back in the wrought iron chair and let the heat soak into my pores, easing my tired, worn out muscles.
“Well at least our minds are clear, our bellies might as well be full,” Leah said, defending our breakfast as she shoveled a piece of muffin into her mouth and washed it down with her coffee. I don’t think Leah’s mind has ever been clear. There were too many dirty thoughts going on in there.
“So, that was it? You totally missed your chance, Clare! It’s not like you’re going to keep running into Dr. Hot Ass every day. Do you want me to steal his phone number from work? I can still do it,” she asked again with an exasperated sigh, clearly not done talking about Dr. Matthews.
“What? No! I mean, I have it. He gave it to me already,” I said, the words stumbling out of my mouth before I could stop myself.
Crap. I’m in so much trouble.
She was giving me that look. The look that said I had broken the “girl code.”
“Clare Elizabeth Murray. He gave you his number? When? Sunday?”
I nodded, unable to hide the grin that spread across my face.
“And you didn’t tell me until now?”
Still not talking, I nodded, again, grinning like an idiot.
“What the hell? I hate you,” she said, pouting.
“Oh stop, you do not. I didn’t tell you because it’s nothing. He gave it to me because he invited Maddie and me to see Swan Lake on Saturday. He obviously needed a way to contact me. It’s not a big deal,” I said, looking away from her penetrating gaze and taking a sip of my coffee.
I decided not to mention how we had been texting and calling each other ever since. She would probably make a big deal out of that, too. I was still trying not to overanalyze anything. He was so hot and cold, I didn’t want to jump to conclusions. But every time I saw his name flash across my phone, my stomach would flutter. Our conversations started out innocent – figuring out what time he was going to pick us up on Saturday, where we should eat, but then we would somehow start talking about something entirely different. When we would start to wrap up our conversation, he’d say “I’ll call you later.” And he would.
“Um, excuse me. That’s a big fucking deal. He asked you out!” Leah exclaimed.
“What? No, he didn’t. Did you hear what I said? He basically asked Maddie out. I’m only there for supervision. I think he’s just being nice.”
God, how I hoped he was not being nice. Did he ask us because he wanted to spend more time with me, or was he really just doing it for Maddie? I had convinced myself of the latter, but I was hoping for the former.
“Men that hot don’t do “nice” Clare. He’s taking the two of you, but he wants to see you first and foremost. I can guarantee it. I mean, which one of you will be wearing a thong? she asked.
“What? Oh God, you do need work. Come on, we’re going shopping.”
When You’re Ready
By J.L. Berg – Copyright 2013
Coming July 25th
When You’re Ready is DONE!!
I wrote the prologue today! Whole book, boom! Done.
Ok, well not quite done. I mean, it’s written. But, it still has to go through re-writes/edits/etc.
But, the main point is it’s done!!
I’m so excited, I think I deserve a ticker tape parade! I have no idea what that is, but it sounds important!
Mission: Write a book. Status: COMPLETE!!!
It’s official! I have a cover designer! And she’s amazing! I’ve included her website below. Check her out.
We’ve brainstormed, and came up with an amazing cover. I can’t wait to share it with you.
So check back around the first part of June for the big reveal!