'I was searching for answers': Kingston Peninsula cancer survivor documents journey in new book

·2 min read

When Elaine McIntyre was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39 in 2017, she had more questions than the doctors and nurses surrounding her could provide answers to.

"I was searching for answers and I couldn't really find anything," said McIntyre, who lives on the Kingston Peninsula. "I could find a lot of medical terms. I could find a lot of literature and doctor's vocabulary – but I don't understand that."

As a way to cope with the shock and challenges of a cancer diagnosis, she began writing. The writing helped "soothe my soul," she said.

Now 44, with her cancer in remission, McIntyre said she was lucky to have an amazing support group during her diagnosis and the subsequent treatment, which included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Knowing, however, not everyone has that, she started documenting her experience as a way to help others.

"I would literally be in my chemo chair, getting my infusions, and I'd be writing," she said.

After three years of scribbling furiously away, she completed a book, When Strength is our Only Choice.

McIntyre described the book as her "journey."

"It's very raw, but it's also very informative. There are a lot of medical terms, and it's also very uplifting because it can be quite dark," she said.

"I'm a very motivational person, so I wanted to compliment it with the motivational quotes that got me through some of those really deep, dark days."

The book is meant to be a relatable voice to people struggling with cancer, she said, but it's not a guidebook.

"I understand that your journey is not going to be exactly like mine, but you're going to take some comfort in knowing: If I'm going for this particular test, this is what I have to expect."

McIntyre approached book publishers, but she said they told her publishing her book in the traditional way would take at least a year and a half.

"Going through something like this, you don't know," she said. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about it, and every little twitch and, 'Oh God is it back?'

"I don't know if I have a year and a half, and I'm not waiting around, so I decided to self-publish," she said.

The self-described horse lover published the book on Amazon in June, an important month because it's when she received her cancer diagnosis four years ago. And June is her birthday.

From Sept. 19 to Oct. 3, all the sales from her book, available digitally on Amazon, will go toward the 2021 Run for the Cure.

Robin Grant, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal

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