Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Foxy 'Rollercoaster' heroine plays piano on Fox

Pianist Nancy Fox, tap dancer in wheelchair show Fox viewers how music cheers elderly

Nancy Fox
Fox News Channel 2 has spotlighted Nancy Fox, heroine of the new VitalityPress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer."

The heart-warming segment was televised Christmas Day at 5 p.m., then repeated at 6.

If you missed it, you can catch it on the KTVU Channel 2 website.

Just click here, then click on the video (and wait a second or three for it to load).


Nancy was paired with Maree Gilmore, whom she first encountered a few months ago during a piano gig at the rehab facility where Maree lives.

When the 83-year-old (who's confined for the most part to a wheelchair) spontaneously started tap dancing to Nancy's rhythms, presto, an instant friendship was magically born.

The duo then taped, on Nancy's 75th birthday, an inspiring three-minute video with the theme "Disibilities Don't Limit." That effort is available on YouTube.

A short time later, Sharon Navratil, a producer for the San Francisco Bay Area's Fox affiliate, KTVU, saw a reference to the video in a life-affirming letter Nancy had written to the Marin Independent Journal.

She was so moved she soon brought a camerawoman-editor, Anne Onate, to Kindred Nursing and Traditional Care center in Greenbrae to film the pair for the Fox audience.

Maree Gilmore
Nancy's brilliantly been stroking the eighty-eights there and at countless other senior facilities for years, despite being hard of hearing.

The two-person crew carefully spent almost two hours taping the duo for a segment that lasts only minutes.

Nancy, who's now in her 20th year of being cancer-free, likes to quote from her letter to sum up her feelings about the video and the newscast: "I hope our duet will inspire people with disabilities to continue doing what they love."

She also enjoys repeating what she said in "Rollercoaster," the book I, Woody Weingarten, authored: "I can be happy and healthy…As a card-carrying member of the Cancer Club, a card-carrying member of the human race, I want joy in the years [ahead]."

Nancy's friends emailed and called to offer congratulations — from as far away as Hawaii, where a happy couple streamed the telecast as it was happening — after the newscasts aired.

Those appreciations returned to my foxy Fox wife some of the cheer and joy she's brought others — cheer and joy that could be witnessed in her segment with Maree on Fox.

The whole enchilada could be called a study in inspiration, perfect for the holiday season, or, for that matter, any time.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tribute is paid 'Rollercoaster' caregiver-author

Quality of Life Commission cites decade of pro-green work by author of 'Rollercoaster'

Praise, as the needlepoint goes, has always warmed "the cockles of my heart."

That's true even though I don't have a clue where the cockles (actually clams, if you really want to know) live within my blood-pumping muscle.

What in tarnation am I talking about?

Well, the minutes of the San Anselmo Quality of Life Commission's November meeting, which were approved Dec. 15, include a tribute to me for 10 years of service on the panel.

You probably know that I'm Woody Weingarten, author of the new VitalityPress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer."

You may not know I was on the commission for a decade, and chair for six years.

Chantal Maher
The minutes, as compiled by Chantal Maher, the panel's secretary, note first that I "spearheaded the implementation of the town's prestigious Green and Silver awards program, presenting over 70 'unsung hero' awards to deserving residents…along with a newspaper article written for each."

In addition, they indicate, I helped put in place San Anselmo's "garden exchange program and organic farm stand, helped obtain approval for free parking of all electric plug-in vehicles…and endorsed the use of both public and alternative transportation to encourage people to drive less whenever possible."

The minutes say I also "helped coordinate the 'Connecting the Green Dots' free speakers series at Town Hall, which has so far included [the topics,] 'Supporting our town's climate action plan' and 'Moving towards zero waste.'"

I am, they go on, "a strong supporter of Marin Clean Energy's 100% renewable Deep Green energy option, and [support] the boycotting of plastic bottles and Styrofoam containers."

The tribute further states that I "encouraged residents to consider the BYOB (bring-your-own-bag) concept long before it became necessary, and supported [the] town's recent ban on plastic bags."

I shop locally, the minutes maintain, and especially back "local businesses that have taken the necessary steps to earn their 'Green Business Certification."

It might have been easy for me to accept the tribute without difficulty except that the following sentences made me tear up:

"There are so many more ways Woody has contributed to the greening efforts of our town than can be stated here. We are sad to see him go but grateful to have had the privilege of serving with such an amazing man, whose experience, leadership, guidance and perspectives will undoubtedly be missed. We thank him for all he has done for the commission and our town and wish him success with his future endeavors."

I've always appreciated appreciation — in both directions. I believe that, as James Brown sang so many, many times, it "feels goooood."

So the appreciation expressed in the Quality of Life Commission minutes is certainly gratifying, and indicates that I apparently accomplished what I'd set out to do — "give back" to the community in which I've now lived 28 years.

Many folks know I resigned my commissioner's post during the November meeting so I could focus my energy on promoting "Rollercoaster."

The main thrust of the marketing campaign for the book is expected to kick off in January 2015. Here's hoping it'll be as successful as what I'll probably look back on as "my greenest years."

Friday, December 12, 2014

Book on male caregiving wins readers' praise

Reviewers give 'Rollercoaster' five stars, say it's 'frank,' 'eloquent' and a 'must read'

Readers are giving "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer" — the new VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, wrote about being a male caregiver — five-star ratings, and calling it a "must read."

On Amazon, for example, certified retirement life coach Gloria Dunn labels it "a love story written…charmingly with both wit and compassion. If you only read one book about a couple going through the cancer process together, this is a must read."

"Black Blender" writes that it's a "terrific book on a neglected subject."

And Georgia McDaniel, one of my wife's "chemo-sitters" and a current breast cancer patient herself, writes that she "appreciated the insertion of various statistics or results from studies to punctuate a particular point."

Leah Garchik
Leah Garchik, a daily columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, notes that I've "written a memoir, an instructional guide, a journal of emotions…Anyone who has suffered through watching a loved one face possible mortality will find succor here."

Callie Raab, herself an author, writes she found the book "surprisingly frank, eloquent, moving, and enlightening…and a powerful reason for others in a similar situation to hope."

And on the Goodreads website, Fran French, a medical professional, concurs: "I laughed, cried and felt totally immersed in the words and feelings Woody Weingarten expressed. A must read."

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Marin Man to Man gives vulnerable guys a boost

Support group for male breast cancer caregivers still going strong after two decades

Marin Man to Man is a weekly support group I've been running for almost 20 years.

It's for men whose partners have or had breast cancer or some other life-threatening disease.

I, Woody Weingarten, have found the group can keep guys feeling healthy — or give them a crucial boost when the walls of their lives seem to be caving in.

A section of my new VintagePress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," touches on what the group does and can do.

It notes, for instance, that:

Support group meets over breakfast.
Frankie Frost/Marin IJ photo.

We can complement Internet info, factoids and data, often differentiating between truth and fiction.

We can de-code what physicians and other healers say — and don’t say.

We can increase understanding offered by relatives, friends and co-workers because we frequently empathize when they can’t.

We can — without embarrassment — be warm and friendly, direct and anecdotal, and add an intimacy factor because we’re human beings and not a book, journal, chat-room or blog.

We can increase a newbie’s stockpile of contacts and where-do-you-find-its because we’ve been there.

Best of all, we can be ultra-illuminating because we can share what’s worked for us and what hasn’t.

For two decades Marin Man to Man has attracted fellows habitually willing to be candid about themselves and their partners,