Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Author sets in-person bookstore appearance

'Rollercoaster' author plans 'meet-and-greet' in San Rafael Copperfield's — his first ever

I'm going to do my first-ever “meet-and-greet” book-signing this Saturday, Feb. 28, at Copperfield’s bookstore in San Rafael, California.

You'll find a cheery me, Woody Weingarten, at a table at 850 4th St. between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. chatting up my new VitalityPress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer."

“I’d appreciate it if everyone I know would drop by if only to say hello and offer support,” I told myself in a mock interview I conducted.

"And if some of you want to offer even more support by buying the book (and having me personally inscribe it), that would be a bonus."

“Rollercoaster” is aimed at caregivers. It’s a hybrid — a chronicle-memoir, a love story, and a guide to research, meds and where to find help.

The book tracks a caregiver’s bumpy yet uplifting journey from the depths of a wife’s diagnosis to the heights of our climbing the Great Wall of China. It illustrates that most couples can successfully deal with the disease itself, “slash, poison and burn” treatments, fear, and the repercussions of it all — and that there truly can be light at the end of the tunnel.

On this very weblog I've noted there are 35 million caregivers in the United States. My mostly tongue-in-cheek hope is that, over the course of time, I can sell at least one copy of “Rollercoaster” to each of them.

For anyone who might not yet know, I've been an award-winning professional newspaper editor and writer for 50 years, and have run a support group for male caregivers for two decades. I've also been the recipient of two “healing partner” awards. 

Come to Copperfield's in San Rafael and help me help others.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Nonprofit plugs breast cancer care book

Zero Breast Cancer organization supports 'Rollercoaster' book for male caregivers on website

Zero Breast Cancer, which collaborates with scientists on studies designed to identify the causes and recurrence of the disease, has given my book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a prominent push on its website.

Under the headline "Men caregivers need support, too," the article says that "when it comes to breast cancer, men — especially prime caregivers — are often a forgotten part of the equation." 

And it notes that I, Woody Weingarten, wrote the book to remedy that situation.

It quotes me as saying that "Rollercoaster," which your favorite bookstore can order in hardcover or paperback, "will benefit male caregivers because 'even if they mistakenly believe they require zero help and can fix anything, they need support.'" 

Simultaneously, the quote continues, "a woman reader can learn what a man goes through while she's locked in a life-threatening battle."

The article also cites the fact that I've been running Marin Man to Man, a drop-in breast cancer support group for guys, for 20 years — since shortly after my wife, "who’s doing well indeed, was diagnosed."

ZBC, a nonprofit based in San Rafael, California, was founded in 1995 as Marin Breast Cancer Watch. It became Zero Breast Cancer in 2006.

It's 16th annual Honor Thy Healer awards program and dinner is scheduled for Thursday, May 7, 2015, shortly before its Racing for Research fundraiser on Saturday, May 16. A third event, Dipsea Hike for Zero Breast Cancer, is slated for Sept. 26. 

You can register for any or all of the ZBC events, or obtain information about the organization, at or by calling (415) 507-1949.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

'Rollercoaster' full of resources, asserts blogger

Zealous writer: 'Rollercoaster' can make cancer diagnosis 'a little bit easier on us all' 

M.J. Joachim
M.J. Joachim is a "very passionate" author and writer from Mesa, Arizona.

A fellow blogger, Philip Verhese Ariel, explains that her passion, in part, has been aimed at "making the world a better place…by raising awareness."

One small step toward that goal, I'm absolutely thrilled to report, occurred when she gave my new VitalityPress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a glowing review.

Below, starting with the next paragraph, are excerpts from M.J.'s piece, which was published on Feb. 3, 2015. The full review, of course, is available on her website.

Breast cancer is one of those scary, taboo subjects nobody wants to talk about, despite the fact that millions of people are and have been affected by it. 

It’s personal. Cancer always seems to be so darned personal. 

For decades we’ve danced around the big C word. 

Until now! 

How I wish this book had been around when my father and uncles died of cancer so many years ago! How I wish this book had been around over the years when I had two benign breast biopsies - one at 28, another in my mid 30’s.

Weingarten is the caregiver of his wife Nancy and her breast cancer; years later, he is also the patient with cancer. 

Seems many of us get to deal with the big C more than once in our lives, and in various ways too. 

For all the research, money raised, government programs, medicines and treatments tried, things which Weingarten fully addresses in this book, we still don’t seem to find the answers we need. 

This book doesn’t offer any false hope. Weingarten describes in scrupulous detail the evolution of cancer meds and treatments since the 70’s. It’s an important section in the book, and if I ever do get cancer, you can bet I’ll never opt to take tamoxifen, partly because of what I learned in this book.

All the big C talk aside, Rollercoaster is a love story about a man and a woman dealing with her diagnosis, treatment and side effects (those little things no one really wants to talk about like loss of sex drive, anger and anxiety, relationship challenges, an entire myriad of fears ranging from how to deal with hair loss to night sweats and coping with nightmares, even eating to deal with stress)

Twenty years later Woody & Nancy are still happily married survivors of the big C that changed and redefined their lives forever. 

Marin-Man-to-Man is a drop-in, dues-free support group open to any male whose partner has or has had, breast cancer (or another life-threatening disease).” Much of this book makes reference to this excellent resource and support group for male caregivers living in the San Francisco Bay Area, a group Woody himself attends. 

Closing chapters are full of valuable resources and books for both caregivers and cancer sufferers alike. 

If you haven’t personally been touched by cancer yet, you’re lucky. I strongly recommend this book to everyone, because this book has the ability to make the dreaded big C diagnosis a little bit easier on us all.

Thanks so much for taking time to share your story, Woody. I trust and hope many people will be extremely fortunate to read Rollercoaster and benefit from you and your wife’s experience with breast cancer.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

'Rollercoaster' author provides own Fantasyland

Writer flaunts wish on Texan's blog: 35 million to buy and read 'Rollercoaster,' dispel worries

Welcome to Fantasyland, Woody Weingarten version, circa 2015.

During an interview just published online, I implied that if most of the 35 million caregivers in the United States bought my new VitalityPress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," I'd stop worrying "about getting out my message that there can be light and life at the end of the proverbial tunnel."
Maryann thinks photo shows my message.
Probably true.

But my late mother's DNA legacy, a throbbing worry gland, might not let me off the hook so easily.

The interview, which went online last Wednesday, Jan. 28, was carried out by Texas blogger, columnist, novelist and  playwright Maryann Miller. It marked my initial dip into somebody else's pool.

It was fun to do.

Here is the lion's share of the interview (for the whole enchilada, check out Maryann's blog, "It's Not All Gravy").  

Hi, Woody here. I’m thrilled to be interviewed/interrogated by Maryann, but I must admit I’m a little nervous. Although I’m a chronological geezer, I’m actually a virgin — at appearing on someone else’s blog, that is.

LOL, Woody, that’s the best introduction I’ve had from one of my guests. And now that you are no longer a virgin at this, I do hope you will find other blogs on which to do a guest post.

Q. Please tell our readers how you came to write your latest book.

I wrote “Rollercoaster” because I believed my experiences, research and expertise could help those going through a life-threatening disease or its aftermath. I think male caregivers, often the forgotten part of the breast cancer equation, are particularly in need of help. But women also can learn what their partners may be feeling. According to The New York Times, there currently are 35 million caregivers in the United States. If most of them bought “Rollercoaster,” I’d be able to stop worrying about getting out my message that there can be light and life at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Q. You have been through the ordeal of having a spouse with breast cancer twice. Did the fact that your first wife had it, make it harder when Nancy was diagnosed?

In a word, yes. It was incredibly sad, and frightening, when the mother of my children ultimately died from the disease. But the fear has faded over time, and Nancy, I’m happy to report, is alive and thriving 20 years later.

Q. There was a lot in the book about chemo-brain, and I know from my sister’s experience that the memory loss is a problem. Did Nancy find that her memory improved after being past chemo for some time?

Nancy’s memory did get better, but there still are blanks and blotches that apparently will never improve. And of course I’m convinced that, like many otherwise loving wives, she’ll never completely forget anything I ever did wrong. (Don’t take that sentence seriously. Now and then she even lets go of my sins.)

Q. What is the hardest thing about writing?

Writing. That’s meant to be a half-joke, and it’s mostly untrue. The hardest part is rewriting and rewriting and rewriting to “get it right.”

Amen to that!!

Q. What is the most unusual or interesting research you have done for your books?

The most interesting by far was discovering that almost any medical findings, no matter how definitive a report seemed, are likely to be contradicted by other research in the following weeks, months or years. The pendulum keeps swinging back and forth, confusing practitioners, patients and caregivers.

That was equally interesting to me as a reader, too, Woody, as was the chapter on medications.

Q. What is your fondest childhood memory?

Believe it or not, it’s a cumulative memory consisting of a series of accidents. I was hit by a moving car while playing ball in the street. I fell off a school wall into a tree limb that pierced my chest. I cut my knee when I recklessly stepped through the windshield of a tractor-trailer that was sitting, shattered, on the ground. The reason it’s my “fondest” memory is simple — I survived.

And we are so glad you did, Woody.

Q. If you could go through a wormhole, would you go into the future, the past, or stay right here? Why?

I’d stay right here. I’m mature enough to have learned more than a thing or two about “giving back” and enjoying life without being too old to make those things happen.

Great thought with which to end the interview, Woody. As you say in your book, looking mortality in the face does give you a new perspective on life. Thanks so much for being my guest today.

"Rollercoaster" a comprehensive memoir-chronicle and guide to up-to-the-minute scientific research, meds and where to get help. It shows how Nancy Fox and her husband Woody Weingarten coped with breast cancer, its treatments and its aftermath — and how you can as well. Almost 250,000 new breast cancer cases are diagnosed annually. Male caregivers (husbands, boyfriends, fathers, sons and brothers) typically become a forgotten part of the equation. Yet they, too, need support. “Rollercoaster” can help provide it. Weingarten, a prize-winning journalist for 50 years, has led a male partner’s support group for two decades. Though he became an expert reluctantly, he now unflinchingly shares what he’s learned.

You can connect with Woody at his weblog on Facebook and Twitter
and LinkedIn

LD Masterson: Very nice meeting Woody. I wish this book had been available when my dad was taking care of my mom.

Maryann Miller: 
Thanks for stopping by, LD. I, too, wish the book had been available when my sister went through her surgery and treatment.