First, You Cry

Isn’t it interesting how a piece of news can set your life on a course like a river rushing around a bend? I received two pieces of news recently. An agent asked for a full on my middle grade manuscript. (Please comment below if you aren’t sure what that means.) So awesome. I was totally over the moon. But then on the day after I turned in that manuscript, I received the other piece of news—one that immediately colored everything.

Mom had called to tell me the results of her recent MRI after two biopsies. “It’s cancer,” she said.

Everything within me shuddered to a halt. Cancer has a way of doing that, doesn’t it? It takes on gigantic proportions like darkness covering the sky.


I totally lost it on the phone. Now, imagine telling someone you have cancer, and as a result, that person bursts into a flood of tears so hard, you’re the one who has to comfort him or her. That’s what Mom had to do. But that’s what parents do. Though they’re the ones with the problem, the parent genes kick in and they do what’s necessary to comfort their children.

I couldn’t help being reminded of a book I read many years ago—First, You Cry by Betty Rollin. In it, she discusses how she dealt with having cancer. Well, here’s my process. As the title says, first, you cry. Then you get angry. Then you cry some more. Then you pray. Then you get angry. Rinse. Repeat.


After Mom’s consultation with the oncologist, I learned that Mom has a rare form of cancer—sweat gland cancer. Which means surgery again (yep—been there done that) and possibly radiation or chemotherapy. By the way, this is Mom’s third bout of cancer. I’ll let that sink in. Amazing isn’t it?

When someone you love has cancer, you can’t help seeing that some things in life aren’t really worth dwelling on. Arguments over who said what. Popularity contests. Power plays. They’re just so much noise. So much wasted energy and time.

I’ve wasted so much time worrying over stuff that doesn’t matter in the long run. What matters is what I have now. I have a mom who is a fighter. She’ll do what it takes to win the battle over cancer. The dark cloud might be here. But in the distance, light glimmers.

God has come.

Book cover from Goodreads. Cloud images from and

81 thoughts on “First, You Cry

  1. Full on middle grade transcript means what please ? Third time having cancer? When did you have cancer before and what type of cancer, Marie? Sorry to have to ask but who are you….? This saddens me a lot.

    • I submitted a query letter to an agent along with three chapters–the required amount for this agency. The agent would only ask to read the full manuscript if interested. That’s what happened.

      My mother had cervical cancer and also had this same cancer back in 2009. It returned. That was a horrible year. My sister-in-law also had cancer that year. Thank you for commenting.

  2. Congrats on the book news but Really sorry to hear about your mum. If it helps, a friend of mine who is a cancer survivor says you are never cured of cancer, you live with it, like a disability – in her case, for years. So hold onto that thought, if it is useful. Also what you say about anger and ‘noise’ – good word is so true. I am constantly amazed by the amount of time and effort people put into keeping their anger and arguments alive. Hey must be exhausted. Good luck and God bless to both you and your mum.



    • Thank you so much. It definitely seems to be the case. I know a young woman who is on her second bout. It’s devastating to her family. Makes everything else seem so noisy while you remain in the hush.
      Thank you for stopping by.

  3. I’m not sure what a full on means?
    Really sorry to hear about your Mum’s news, but like you said-she’s a fighter. Focus on that glimmering light.

    • Hi. I sent query letters out to agents seeking representation. If their submission requires meant sending a chapter or three, I sent those too. They would only respond with a request to read the whole book if they were interested. That’s what happened in this case. It’s funny how something like that takes a backseat to everything else. 🙂

  4. It sounds like to me that your mum’s a fighter. And those genes you’re rockin’ don’t just make you look good, they make you strong. You’ll get through. I’m sure your mum will live to see your novel in print. All my wind in your sails. x

    • I think she will, too, John. And thank you. I admit I thought, “The thing Mom hoped for all these years–would she get to see it?” And then I got mad again. And I cried some more. But we go on.

      • I think Y/A fantasy books, and younger will be even hotter this year, what with Slavedays being picked up from Wattpad. I think it’s going to do a Potter on the market. That can only be good for fantasy novelists. Pity I’m not one of them. (Ha ha). I’m sure your mum is pretty proud already.

  5. Our mother’s are amazing, aren’t they? Your mother is in my prayers each day, L. Marie. It’s sad to think that it takes a cancer diagnosis to realize what’s really important. We should all try to take that power away from this horrible disease.

    • Thank you, Jill. Mom appreciates that. I’ve told her that so many people are praying for her. And she feels that. Her voice sounds stronger. She’s probably reading this post. I told her I was going to post about what happened. 🙂

  6. That you are seeing a bit of glimmer in the distance is a good sign, L. Marie, though it doesn’t take away the fears and trepidations of a cancer diagnosis. I am sorry to hear of it and send good thoughts and prayers your way. Your mom WILL “do what it takes” to beat this bout while still being your mom. You see? She is already doing what it takes. Still, it is a fright to hear, especially with previous bouts. Stay strong.
    I remember well Betty Rollin’s book. It was a groundbreaker of its time in talking about cancer and of saying things that back at the time weren’t vocalized.
    Happy news on your manuscript – not sure what “full” is, but, guess it means they want more of ???Congrats on that.

    • Hi, Penny. And thank you. Yes, Mom has a PET scan this week. She’s not looking forward to surgery. But she’ll do what’s needed.

      I sent query letters out to agents along with whatever else they requested (either one or three chapters of the manuscript). But they would only ask to read all of it if interested. That’s what happened. So life has been a roller coaster. But I’m grateful to God. There’s something about harsh reality that fixes your eyesight squarely on what’s real.

  7. Thank you for this post, Linda. I always admire your ability to be real on your blog. Thank you for this reminder: “What matters is what I have now.” And the reminder to keep our eyes open for that glimmering light.

    • Thank you, Laura. That’s right. What we have now. It struck me all weekend. I spent so much of my youth looking for what I could get later. What life would be like later. What a waste!!!

  8. First you cry. So true. There’s a bronze statue at M. D. Anderson I think I’ve shared about before but I’ll share again because so much of this journey is about courage and faith. The statue sits right outside the main building on the hospital campus. It’s of a life-sized woman, standing, with one arm stretched above her, her hand open, as she releases a small bird. I believe the quote is by Victor Hugo:

    “Be like the bird, who, halting in its flight on limb too slight, feels it give way beneath him yet sings, knowing he has wings.”

    So happy about your full request!

    • Just reading your comment made me cry. You mentioned the statue to me. What a beautiful quote. It is the perfect place for that statue! And I know what that meant to you and how hard it was for you to be at that place. This post is for both of us.

  9. L Marie, so sorry to hear about your mom but sounds like she’s tough. Yes, news like that can really make us stop and consider what’s important. I try to live in the moment and fail miserably yet you’ve reminded me that is all I have, this moment. If I’m smart I’ll savor it. Good luck to your mom. And, congrats on the book interest. 🙂

  10. So very sorry to hear about your mother. I hope treatment goes well for her. At least the request for a full manuscript read gives you a little spark of light in what no doubt is a difficult time. Best of luck with the the query.

    • Thank you, Carrie. And thank you also for your recent post. It really struck a chord with me. I’ve heard remarks like this.

      We do what we can with our characters to make a compelling story. They have to go through the wringer. But it’s nice to have insight into their souls too.

      • For sure. It’s ironic that in order to write about shaming, I had to shame my character (through the bad guys). But that’s what will hopefully bring the subject to light.

      • Well, we sympathize with characters who go through hurtful events. And sadly this is something I hear a lot of teens talk about.

  11. I am saddened to hear that news .
    personally when this happened to family members I did not say anything but My caring presence comforted them ; wORDS IN EXCESS CAN BE DANGEROUS ;

  12. So sorry to hear this, L Marie. The positive thing is that cancer treatments are improving dramatically all the time. It sounds like your mother is quite a fighter and she has a loving family on her side. Best wishes to you both.

  13. Cancer SUCKS!
    Hope your mom kicks its ass to the curb.

    And congrats on the request for a full M/S. That is COOL!

    We only live happily ever after on a moment by moment basis.
    Joy helps us survive the sorrow.

  14. My thoughts and prayers for you and your mother. And so much like a mother to be the one who comforts. Please keep us posted on how she’s doing. And good luck with your full manuscript submission! I hope the agent sees the light.

  15. Sorry to hear about your Mom L Marie. My mother is in remission, knowing it will likely come back. It does bring perspective about sweating the small stuff doesn’t it. Take each day and let the light in 💛

  16. Linda, such a mix of wonderful and bad news. I know the feeling and my heart goes out to you right now. It’s great that your mom is a fighter because those are the type of people that seem to do so well under treatment. Like a lot of us, I’ve had multiple family members fight that monster and it’s never easy, always stressful. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    I’m still not losing sight of the great manuscript news though. You deserve it more than any writer I know!

    • Thank you, Phillip. I also have other relatives who endured a similar battle. It’s tough. But I know Mom appreciates the fact that so many people care.

      Thank you. No matter what happens, I still have the joy of someone wanting to read it. 🙂

  17. Congrats on the request for a full!

    And hugs for your mom’s news. She sounds like a fighter–as does her daughter. All good thoughts to you.

  18. “But that’s what parents do. Though they’re the ones with the problem, the parent genes kick in and they do what’s necessary to comfort their children.”
    And you know what? Parental comfort towards kiddos definitely helps in comforting the parent, too. (Been there,done that, multiple times over)
    You are such a good daughter, L. Marie. Crying, showing distress/concern is **not** a sign of weakness or lack of ‘helping’ your mom in this next bout with cancer.
    As mentioned before, prayers are being prayed.

    ps-and even in the midst of such a trial, it does not diminish the significance of your great writerly news…brava!

  19. I’m so sorry to hear about your mum, Linda. My thoughts are with both of you and your family during this difficult time. I really hope the treatment goes as well and as smoothly as possible.

    Congratulations on the manuscript news though! That’s fantastic news and very well deserved, and no doubt a little light amongst all the darkness. I’m keeping all my fingers crossed for you!

    • Thanks, Celine. My parents appreciate it.
      How are you doing with your writing? (I just read another comment you made, so I see what you’re doing. That’s awesome.)

  20. I’m so sorry to hear that your mom has cancer again. She sounds like a wonderful, brave person and the kind of mother we all hope to be. I’ll pray for her … and for you. I know how hard it was for me when my dad had cancer.

    Congratulations on the request for a full manuscript. That’s wonderful.

    • Thanks, Naomi. I’m very hopeful that treatment will help Mom beat this thing. I’m hoping for the good with this manuscript, but trying to be realistic as well. 🙂

  21. It looks the good news never lasts a long time .
    Life is a fight with ups and downs . I think of your mother . She starts a fight for life with courage . I wish and I pray she won .
    My thoughts are for you, friend.
    In friendship

  22. I’m sorry to hear that your good news was clouded with the news that your mum has cancer.

    First you cry …. and then life goes on! My thoughts and prayers are with your mum and your family. Hang in there!

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  25. Oh, I’m so sorry I missed this post! What an ordeal for your family. My prayers and thoughts are with you all. I am glad I saw your recent post first. I have to admit that. Cancer has rocked me and other members of my immediate family. But as others have noted, current treatments do seem to result in greater success and outcomes. And now I hope you can fully enjoy having been asked for a full 🙂

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