“I want you to know that if my illness inspired you to write these stories … the cancer was worth it.”
These are the words Margaret Terry’s dying friend Deb spoke to her, after Terry had written her over 100 heartfelt and deeply personal letters, sharing through stories her heart’s most intimate secrets — indeed, her very life — and encouraging and sustaining Deb through the final months of her own.
But, what kind of stories could possibly make that type of diagnosis and journey worth it? Real, genuine stories of vulnerability, love, loss, forgiveness and redemption. Stories that Deb believed could help thousands of other hurting, struggling women. Stories that, as her health declined, she made Margaret promise she’d share with the world. And so she has. ‘Dear Deb: A Woman with Cancer, a Friend with Secrets and the Letters that Became Their Miracle’ (Thomas Nelson, October 2012), a collection of the stories Terry wrote to her dying friend — and that made their way around the world in 2010 — releases in October, coinciding with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“I never planned on writing a book. Deb asked for encouraging words and I thought it was something I could do for her. I began with short, hopeful notes like those plaques in stores that say ‘Believe,’ ‘Hope’ or ‘Love Never Fails’ … but, when her health began to decline so quickly, all of those words felt hollow. I never dreamed I’d end up telling her what I told her, but something in me changed when I thought about how frightened she must have been to be so sick,” Terry says. “Her reality made me want to send her letters about real things, things I’d never told anyone. Painful things, big mistakes, things filled with wonder. About my dad coming in and out of our lives and my mom’s mental illness. About summers with my sons at a small lake cabin in Wisconsin. About life. All I knew was that I had to write her something every day. And when she passed the letters on and they took flight, I felt I was playing a part in something bigger than myself … so I kept writing. Somehow, a part of me felt that as long as I kept writing, she would keep living.”
But, after a courageous battle, Deb would pass away in September 2010. Shortly thereafter, in keeping her promise, Terry began gathering the letters and the hundreds of comments she’d received from people from around the world — most of them from places she only knew from maps.
“So many people had been praying for Deb those six months, believing in her miracle, and I realized we were all connected because of her letters. People wrote me about their struggles with illness and loss as they connected with my stories. They shared their search for hope and some talked about their own miracles. Others yearned for one. It was that connection that made me see the healing that can happen in vulnerability … and that gave me the courage to fulfill the promise I’d made to Deb.”
For more information on the book, review copies, press materials or to interview the author, contact Jason Jones at [email protected] or via direct message on Twitter, @Book_Publicist.
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