Breaking the silence (and making it all worthwhile)

Got one of those letters this week that makes it all worth while, and at the risk of sounding like I'm back-patting, I want to share it with you...

Dear Joni,

My name is Chris Gillespie and I am writing for two reasons. One is to thank you for being able to make my sister laugh. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer several years ago and when she was at her lowest with the initial depression her diagnosis caused, your book was the one thing that just cracked her up. Her then husband even wrote you and I don't know if you would remember, but you actually called her and the smile that that brought was amazing. Her name was Julie Layne.

Unfortunately Julie lost her battle with ovarian cancer just over 2 years ago. I have since become involved with the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) and I am on the committee to organize the Break the Silence 5K run/walk this year. This is the NOCC's signature event and it is held each September to raise funds for awareness, education and support surrounding ovarian cancer.

1 in 58 women will be diagnosed with this disease but unfortunately the vast majority will be diagnosed in the disease's latter stages when it is at its deadliest. I know first hand the truth of this statement. I miss my sister terribly but my mission has become to educate women about this disease and its early signs so that no one else loses a sister, mother, grandmother, aunt or friend.

Julie started writing about a year into her diagnosis and it was not only cathartic for her, the articles were published in our hometown paper and were a huge hit. They are still being used to help those fighting all forms of cancer at our local hospital. I think your book inspired her to share her thoughts as well so I hope you know how many people you have touched with your honesty and humor.

Thank you so much for your kindness and please keep writing - I love your sense of humor and I truly feel laughter is often the best medicine.

God Bless you,


Thanks for the kind words, Chris, and for the work you're doing to increase ovarian cancer awareness.

It's been seven years since Bald in the Land of Big Hair was published by Harper Collins, and I remain astonished -- well, first of all that it's still in print and continues a steady trickle of sales, but more importantly, that sharing the story of my chemo adventure opened the door for all this kindness and shalom that's come back to me. In the first two years, I received thousands of letters and emails, and even after all this time, not a week goes by that I don't hear from a chemo buddy. And I'm hugely grateful for every single one. That's a day-maker every time. Cast your bread upon the water, like the Good Book says. It will return to you a hundredfold.

Click here to donate to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and learn more about Break the Silence and Healing Through Art.


Nothing makes an author's day like a message to let you know you've touched a reader. And you've touched so many with that book.

I'm glad to hear of people doing more to get the word out about ovarian cancer. I lost an aunt to the disease a few years back; she had no idea (nor did I) that a woman could still contract it years after a "complete" hysterectomy.

Bless your efforts, Chris Gillepsie! And bless your sister's memory as well.

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