Scary times, humor, life
Antoinette Truglio Martin’s journey opens with a trip to New York University Clinical “C” Center. Her right breast was being sonographed and she hoped the biopsy would show a benign lump.
So started her journey, a well-written, concise telling of what it’s like to be hit with a cancer diagnosis and the human thoughts that accompany it, like ‘how do I tell the family?’ and ‘what do I tell them?’ as well as the doctors she encountered and the era, as it was, she experienced. It is a memoir written with grace. And humor. She salutes “My Everyone,” the different voices and loving intentions that streamed out to her from her supporters.
Martin, who chronicles the first year of her diagnosis, which began Feb. 7, 2007, was cancer-free for five years. The progression to Stage 4, five years ago, compelled her to write the account for her three daughters. Her book, “Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer,” which launches Oct. 7, has already received a Reader’s Favorite Five Stars review.
Other thumbs ups include Library Journal: “A solid read for breast cancer patients.” And from Karen Schmitt, MA, BSN director, Manhattan Cancer Services Program New York Presbyterian/Columbia: “This is an honestly written account of the challenges that face women and families confronting a breast cancer diagnosis. It passionately illustrates the ability of women and their ‘Everyones’ to find strength.”
E-mails to her friends resulted in a buddy’s suggestion: start a journal.
Her mother was a breast cancer survivor and founder of Women’s Outreach Network, so there was first-hand wisdom within the family. There were realities: Martin fainted with any invasive procedure before she agreed to a port and had some doctors who could have been a bit more humane: “Don’t move since I like to get this done in one shot,” said one radiologist marking the right side of her breast where a needle was to be inserted in her nipple. She cracks up the reader with observances like this one. One vein hunter nurse said, “Hmm. Good thing they called me in. These veins are tiny.”
Martin’s reply: “Great. The only part of me that’s petite.”
In five words: she writes a good story.
“When I originally was going through this, I kept a journal and the e-mails,” Martin said. “I thought it would make a great book. But I realized how scared I was at the time and couldn’t make it readable.”
Martin, a Sayville resident, is a speech therapist and special education teacher in the Remsenburg-Speonk School District. She radiates a positive, upbeat attitude. “I’m fine,” she said. “I’m the poster child. The metastatic tumor was probably always there, but was too small to see at the time. The treatment I go through now, I’m lucky. It’s not debilitating and doesn’t involve infusion.”
Martin gets chemotherapy via an injection once a month. The process takes about an hour. “I truly believe it will be cured in my lifetime,” she said.
Martin has written “Famous Seaweed Soup,” and was a regular columunist for Parent Connection and the Fire Island Tide. She credited Southampton College’s MFA program with one of her most resounding wishes, to become an author.
“I had a little posse of women I could get feedback from there and also Memorial Sloane-Kettering had a program, Visible Ink, and my advisor said, ‘Just do it,’” she recalled. “He read everything I gave him and gave me feedback. Also, it was nice to get a man’s feedback.”
It took her three years to write and a year to get it published, via She Writes Press, an indie press.
There are some local landmarks mentioned, including the Cull House, a favorite restaurant she and her husband frequent. The book launch will be held there.
Martin’s persona is optimistic; you just want to hang around her and it’s that attitude that got her through. “It stems from those around me, the people I love and those who love me,” she said. “I grew up with a very traditional Catholic upbringing, not stern. We had supper every night with grace said and my mother cooked every night, and I tried to repeat that with my family. Our mission was and still is to have fun.”
Martin talks about fishing in the Great South Bay (she and her husband still have a boat) and having Sunday dinner with her grandmother and aunts. “We traveled to Brooklyn, or they traveled to us,” she said. That solid core, filled with celebrations, discussions of issues, good food and good role models, guided her.
Not surprisingly, gratefulness is part of her mantra.
So are hugs.
“Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer” is being launched at the Cull House, 75 Terry Street in Sayville on Oct. 7 from 2 to 5 p.m. Books will be available for purchase; the author Antoinette Truglio Martin will sign them.
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