Dena Taylor | Interviewed about breast cancer, memoir. Kept the bunny to myself.
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Interviewed about breast cancer, memoir. Kept the bunny to myself.

Interviewed about breast cancer, memoir. Kept the bunny to myself.

This past January, Cheryl Jones, host of the Good Grief radio program on the VoiceAmerica Health and Wellness Channel, came across my blog via Twitter, and blew me away by asking if I’d be interested in being a guest on her show.

Good Grief explores the losses that define our lives. As described on its web page:

“Each week, we talk with people who have transformed themselves through the profound act of grieving. Why settle for surviving? Say yes to the many experiences that embody loss! Grief can teach you where your strengths are, and ignite your courage. It can heighten your awareness of what is important to you and help you let go of what is not.”

Why settle for surviving, indeed. Cheryl and I would have a conversation about my breast cancer experience, life post-treatment and my memoir, from which I’d have the opportunity to read a few excerpts.

I was flattered and grateful and said Yes right away. I’d deal with the nerves later. I was booked for April 2.

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Interestingly or agonizingly, I had just decided to make some revisions to my manuscript, which was otherwise in decent shape and resting inside my laptop while I worked on building my author platform.  Cheryl would need a draft of the current or revised version, along with a photo, bio and excerpts, by mid-March in order to prepare for the show.

“What better incentive to knock out those revisions?” I thought. “Four, five weeks is plenty of time! No problem. I so got this.”

It’s the thought that counts. Work and this and that and well, at least I made the mid-March deadline. The unrevised draft would have to do.

That left sorting out how to call in. A land line or ethernet connection for Skype would ensure the best sound, neither of which I had.

“It’s okay, though! I’ll just order an ethernet adapter from Apple, plug it in and voila! Hello interview!”

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try not to make it worse. Multiple failed attempts to connect and a trip to the Apple store pointed to a problem with the ISP or OMG or WTF vs. the adapter. I had to decide whether to get ensnared in the customer service system of my Internet service provider or find myself a land line.

“Both formidable challenges,” I thought. “Whichever won’t cause your TMJ to flare up is probably best.”GG show graphic

The next morning, April 2, I drove some 30 minutes to my friends’ lovely home in Aurora, Colorado, to borrow their home office land line. I got there early to read through the excerpts and drink a ton of water to combat a sudden case of throat-clearing.

A few minutes before I called in for the interview, I gazed out the office window and took a few deep breaths.

“You’re just having a conversation,” I told myself. “Pretend you’re meeting over coffee, no, martinis, and just enjoy the exchange.”

That’s when I spotted the bunny.  It had plopped down under one of the trees outside the window and started to clean its big fat self.

“Aww, Hi Bunny,” I whispered. “You sure are big…boned. Going to clean your privates while I talk about cancer? That’s nice.”

With my eye on the bunny, I called into the program and was patched through to Cheryl. Her welcoming voice and sense of humor put me at ease and within a few minutes we were having a surprisingly comfortable conversation about a difficult topic.

The bunny helped too. It didn’t give a shit about my interview, if my voice was a little shaky reading an excerpt or if I said “um” here and there. After it was done grooming, it just sat there, plump and chill, giving my eyes a place to rest. It was like a good luck charm, but a whole rabbit, not just the foot.

An hour later, I was thanking Cheryl for a wonderful experience, the bunny for hanging out with me backstage and my kind friends for letting me borrow their phone. The throat-clearing had vanished and the 30-ish minute drive back to Denver was a breeze.

If you’ve got 56 minutes, give it a listen. Check out the other episodes too. Cheryl has interviewed some amazing people with incredibly inspiring stories to tell.

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