Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

There Are Tomorrows

Jackie K. Cooper

When I was taking part in the Much Ado About Books Festival in Jacksonville, Florida, I had the chance to meet Geralyn Lucas. Geralyn is the author of the book Why I Wore Lipstick To My Mastectomy, which deals with her fight against breast cancer and how she has turned that into a positive thing.

My wife and Geralyn had some long conversations about her illness and how she has handled it. My wife is the principal of a school, and three of the mothers of her students have breast cancer. She talked with Geralyn about what she could do to be a positive force in the children's lives and also be supportive of the parents.

While I was listening to my wife and Geralyn talk, I flashed back to my own mother's death from cancer more than forty years ago. I had hoped by the time this many years had passed that there would be a cure, but it seems there are more cases of cancer than ever before. The difference is that cancer is no longer a death sentence.

When I was signing books on Saturday afternoon at the Book Fest, I sat next to author Jessica Speart. Jessica writes mysteries, and she and I had some great conversations while we visited with the public and hawked our books. Jessica mentioned she wanted to meet Geralyn because she too was a cancer survivor. Later that evening I managed to get the two of them together.

A short while later a woman came up to me and bought one of my books. She had me sign it for her son. She told me had been sick, and she thought the book might cheer him up. After I signed it, I told her I hoped her son would be alright. With tears in her eyes she told me he had cancer, then she hurriedly turned away.

While we were in Jacksonville, we were invited to a cocktail party at the home of an architect and his wife. All of the authors from the Book Festival were there plus some people in the community who had been invited. Terry and I sat down and talked with a lady who is a sports writer. Since that is our son's profession, we were more than interested in her chosen career.

During this conversation the lady mentioned that at one time she was given only a few months to live. The diagnosis proved wrong, and she is now healthy, but she said the prognosis of dying had given her a new lease on life. She now is fearless and has even tried sky diving (just like in the Tim McGraw song).

It seemed that cancer victims and cancer survivors were everywhere I turned. Brave people going on with their lives while living in the shadow of this disease. I was stunned by the impact of how many are still affected and how many are making a positive result out of such a negative occurrence.

Geralyn was right to wear makeup to her mastectomy. What she was saying was that cancer was not going to erase who she was or how she faced life. If anything, she was going forward into the future with herself intact.

Cancer is a hideous disease. I hate, detest, abhor it. But we are winning the war against it, and people who are cancer patients are no longer the victims they once were. When my mother was diagnosed, it was a death sentence. But no longer is that necessarily the case. There is hope; there is a future; there are tomorrows.

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Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. He is familiar to people living in the middle Georgia area as the "entertainment man" since his entertainment reviews run in newspapers and are shown on television there. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio. He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for various events.

Cooper has lived an exceptionally interesting life and portions of it were contained in his first book Journey of a Gentle Southern Man. The journey continued in Chances and Choices.

Jackie's first two books, Journey of a Gentle Southern Man and Chances and Choices, were reprinted and published by Mercer University Press in July 2004. His third book Halfway Home was published by Mercer University Press in October 2004.

Cooper is currently at work on his fourth book, The Book Binder, which will be published in the fall of 2006.

Visit his website, or email Jackie.

© Jackie K. Cooper

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012