First Chapters of CANCER CURATED

First Chapters of CANCER CURATED

We’re only two weeks away from the release of Cancer Curated (hard to believe — that time went fast!), and that normally means running the first chapter of the book for you, here.

But Cancer Curated is non-fiction, and the chapters are kinda chopped up.  Still, I’ll run a decently-long excerpt here for you, that includes more than a chapter.



I have been married to Tracy Cooper-Posey for the better part of 27 years. I was with her every step of the way from diagnosis to first round of chemotherapy to the stem cell transplant to the final round of chemotherapy. Final round is a bit of a misnomer. One of the things we learned on this journey is Multiple Myeloma is a relapsing remitting disease. It is never truly cured. The best we can hope for is a long remission.

Many people have called her brave for putting her updates out in public like she did. I don’t think she thought of it that way at all. So many people kept asking, “What’s going on?” There was no way she could have answered each of them individually. (But I still think she’s brave.)

I suppose, to a degree, that’s my fault. I actually posted the first update. There were a bunch of people I had to tell personally—our kids, Tracy’s Mum, my parents, Tracy’s agent, Tracy’s writing partner, and several close friends. By the time I had at least attempted to get a hold of all those people, I was short on time and threw a post up on social media before dashing to the hospital. By the end of the day, that post had blown up.

Over the course of the last year, people have told Tracy that not only did they appreciate the updates but they were finding her courage helpful in dealing with their own trials and tribulations. Online culture being what it is though, Tracy’s updates were more well received if they were positive and upbeat.

Here, for the first time, Tracy pulls back the curtain and reveals what her face-off with Multiple Myeloma was really like, warts and all. With nearly 200 fiction titles under her belt, nobody could do a better job of articulating the thoughts, feelings and raw emotion of the whole experience.

She’s still being brave.

Mark Posey

September 21, 2023

Annus Horribilis x 2

In November 1992, Queen Elizabeth II described the year she and her family had gone through as her annus horribilis—her horrible year. And it was a doozy. All of Elizabeth’s children were caught up in affairs, scandals, divorces and other sensational tabloid events. Windsor Castle, one of the Queen’s favourite residences, was severely damaged by fire. And to culminate her year, Prince Charles and Princess Diana formally separated.

I’ve just finished going through all my journal entries and other documentation as I prepare to write this book. And I think I can justifiably claim that, stretching from May 2021 through to…well, right now, September 2023; this has been my annus horribilis. Times two. And a bit.

There are rumours and speculation surrounding Queen Elizabeth’s death. Official records state she died of old age, but Gyles Brandreth, in Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait, claims she had a rare bone marrow cancer called Multiple Myeloma in the last years of her life.

Funny, that’s what I’ve got.

I’ll tell you a lot more about that in a bit.

A lot of people insisted I should write this book. As I am a writer, that seemed like a natural next step following the couple of years I’ve had.

I did a bit of research about memoirs, because I write fiction for my daily bread. Novels and non-fiction books like memoirs are two different species. I wanted to find out a little bit more about writing memoirs before I committed to writing my own. And I was shocked by the number of cancer memoirs already out there. Why would I want to add to that mountain of books?

There’s one very good reason you’re reading this book right now.

As I mentioned, I’m a writer. When my life skewed into nightmareland in October, 2022, I was unable to write at all, for reasons I’ll explain in a bit.

Yet my readers were waiting for the next book in their favourite series to be released. And all our friends and family were asking frantic questions about my situation.

At the time, I was in a hospital bed and couldn’t find my phone. The nursing staff had put it somewhere safe, I found out later, but as I couldn’t move off the bed, I couldn’t communicate with either readers, or friends and family.

So my husband, Mark, did something that set up a pattern that is the reason I wrote this book. It was pretty simple. He updated everyone—friends, family and readers—with a post on Facebook.

The outpouring of concern, empathy and warm wishes that came back to us was overwhelming. There were a lot of questions, too. But that simple post managed to reach everyone. Readers were braced for the possibility that my next book release might be delayed. Friends and family were informed about what had happened, too.

Several days later, when I was sent home from hospital (for the first time), I followed up with an update of my own, telling everyone what had happened to me and trying to answer some of the questions we’d got.

This time, the responses and feedback I got was even more overwhelming. But among them were a great many “thank you!” sentiments. Everyone was so glad to know exactly what was happening.

This set up the pattern. Ever since, I have been sending out updates via email and all over Facebook.

As the updates continued, I began to get long emails from people I didn’t know directly, who had come across my posts. Those long emails held their stories. People who had just been diagnosed with cancer themselves; and their fear filled every line. People who had survived cancer and were twenty years into the clear; and how they appreciated my candor in my updates. People who were caring for a loved one with cancer; and every sentence of their emails was filled with silent sacrifice, hard work…and fear. Then there were the people who had lost loved ones. Their emails and messages were filled with pain…but they were reaching out with the equivalent of a gentle hug, anyway.

All those emails and messages never failed to thank me for my public posts about what I was going through. And many of them said, in essence; “Your updates help me.”

There’s a maxim in marketing that says that for every communication a writer gets from their readers, there are a hundred more who feel the same way, who stay silent.

If that is true, it implies that my public updates have been helping a lot of people.

I don’t know why the updates help. I mostly just intend to let everyone know what is going on with me. Because I’m a writer, I also drop a lot of observations and side comments in there, too. If that helps people, then good.

But Facebook posts and private email are ephemeral. While I was prepping to write this book, I went back into Facebook, looking for all the updates I’d posted. I couldn’t find many of them, even when I scrolled slowly through my own archives one post at a time. Facebook appears to randomly delete older posts.

That settled the matter for me. I would write this book, so that there is a permanent record of the updates, along with a whole lot more. And if this book helps just one more person as they face their own challenges with cancer, be it as a patient or a caregiver, or simply watching good friends and loved ones go through the battle, then that is the single reason for this book to exist.


The Faint Stirring of a Breeze…

 May 22, 2021:

The pain in my side—told Mark about it. But as stretching or sitting very upright makes it go away, it can’t be my heart.


This single line journal entry is where it all started, although it would be well over a year before I would recognize that ominous clouds had been gathering just beyond the borders of my senses.

Like the first stirring of a breeze late in the afternoon of a sweltering summer day, heralding the coming thunderstorm, that little niggle in my side was a sign…one I completely missed.

I am, as the French say, of a certain age. And I’m a writer, who sits at a desk all day long, and would rather read than exercise. Oh hell, I’d rather do anything but exercise.

Plus, I had spent the last eight years scrambling to write lots of books so that I could pay the bills. Actually, I was more driven than that; I wanted to avoid, above all else, the humiliation of having to find a day job. I have been writing full time since December 2015, and couldn’t stand the thought of having to go back to working for someone else.

So I worked very long hours, and didn’t spare a lot of time for my health…or anything else.

When I got the aching, stabbing pain in my left side, just below my breast, I naturally assumed it was my heart. That finally, ignoring my health was catching up with me. I was horribly overweight, my age was not going backward the way I would prefer, and everyone was talking about how sitting all day was the new smoking.

Only, when I straightened up properly, the pain went away. I didn’t think a heart problem could simply vanish by stretching. It didn’t make sense. As the pain wasn’t disabling in any way, I told myself it would either resolve itself, or I’d figure out what was going on in a few days’ time.

 May 24, 2021:

Very bad night. Pain in chest wouldn’t shift. Laid wide awake in bed wondering if I was having a heart attack. Interesting how I bargained with god/Gaia/the universe—let me get through this and I’ll deal with everything I’ve been putting off; losing weight, getting active, eating right, taking care of little health stuff.


I was smart enough to do something about it, after that.

I did not have a family physician at the time. Finding one who was taking on new patients was my challenge.

Most of the clinics I phoned did not return my call. The clinics that I did speak with were either not taking new patients, or the earliest new patient appointment they could give me was months away.

I booked an appointment with the clinic that had the shortest wait time; three months. And I kept looking for a physician who would give me an appointment sooner than that.

August 25, 2021:

Still having the pains in the chest. It feels muscular, but every now and then, I can feel my heart beating. I don’t know what it is.

October 30 2021:

Pain in my side/chest—left side of my left breast. Feels muscular, but also radiates to my back. Woke up with it.


I decided to try a different approach.

Cancer Curated

My Public Face-Off with Multiple Myeloma

Cancer is also a mental game…

Because I am an author, when I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2022, I unintentionally lived through my treatment, the ups and (some of) the downs, in a very public way.  Then something strange happened.

I begun to get messages and emails from strangers.  Lots of strangers.  My posts and public updates, they said, were helping them deal with their own brush with cancer—as survivors, patients, carers, friends and family and, sometimes, as victims.

The public updates were necessarily short and severely edited.  This book is an unedited chronology of everything I dealt with to arrive where I am today. Woven through the public posts are the raw facts and events I didn’t include in the updates.  I’ve also included my hugely subjective opinions on some of the extremes cancer patients and their carers go through and how it changes you.

Looking for a different way to think about cancer?  Try mine.

A Cancer Memoir

Buy Cancer Curated from Me @ SRP!

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