BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ



ABOUT MICHAEL KING: In March of 2008, at the age of 35, Michael King was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer.
He fought that monster and by the grace of God won. Now he’s written A Thousand Sleepless Nights, a story about a woman fighting that same battle.
To continue his fight against colon cancer, Michael has partnered with the Colon Cancer Alliance (www.ccalliance.org) and has agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds of every book sold through the end of 2012 to their mission to eliminate colon cancer completely through education, awareness, and early screenings. 

Join him in this fight by purchasing a copy of A Thousand Sleepless Nights. And if you purchase a copy during the week of October 15-20 you’ll receive access to a page of free downloads including an exclusive short story, essays on living and suffering, and Michael’s own 84-page journal containing thoughts and writings during his battle with cancer.
For more information go to http://michaelkingbooks.wordpress.com/athousandsleeplessnights/.

Can you share a little bit about your story as a survivor? How old were you when you were diagnosed? Did you have symptoms?

My symptoms began in early 2008. First there was just a little blood where it shouldn't be. I didn't think anything of it, thought maybe it was hemorrhoids. But the bleeding worsened to the point that my bowel movements were mostly blood. A visit to the family doctor landed me an appointment for a colonoscopy. It was then they found the tumor. At 35 I was the picture of health. Never had a major illness, didn't smoke, drink, wasn't diabetic. Nothing.  That tumor caught everyone by surprise. 

A few days later the doctor called me at work and told me they received the results of the biopsy. “I’m very sorry, Michael,” he said. “You have colon cancer.” That night my wife and I argued. I thought she was too emotional, taking it too seriously; she thought I wasn't taking it seriously enough. Days later, after a visit to the surgeon, I got the total picture and plan. I felt like I’d been sucker-punched in the gut. Shortly after that I cried for the first time. I wasn't afraid to die but I didn't want to leave my daughters fatherless and my wife a widow.
After you were diagnosed, who did you reach out to for support?

Obviously my wife was my biggest support. I have a whole new appreciation of caregivers and what they deal with. My family was a big support too. My wife and I have been attending the same church since we were kids and our church family really came through for us in a big way. It’s not easy accepting help from others and at first we were hesitant to let others do too much. Then someone told me, “Michael, when you turn away an offer of help you’re not only robbing yourself of the blessing of receiving but you’re robbing the other person of the blessing of giving.” That hit me hard and it stuck. From then on we accepted any help that was offered. And we had people bringing us meals, cleaning our house, ironing our laundry, mowing our grass, washing our cars, and anything else you can think of. It was amazing to see how friends can rally around a hurting family and bring hope and encouragement.

How has writing helped you deal with your diagnosis?

Writing has a way of opening the doors to expression. Through storytelling I can explore the emotions I felt, the struggles I had, the reactions of others. I can be completely honest and transparent when I write. No walls. Through words on a page I can shine the light on the monster that cancer really is and how it affects someone on every level, not just physically, but emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, relationally. I can also portray the hope and life that can be found in the midst of such a storm.

And it’s had an opposite effect as well. Experiencing cancer has helped me write more authentically and honestly. It has enabled me to bring a whole new realism to the characters I create and the struggles they fight through.

In your book, Nena's husband and her children each reacted and dealt with her diagnosis of colon cancer in a unique way. In which ways did this parallel your own family's reaction with your diagnosis and treatment?

My wife and I had a hard time connecting sometimes. At first, I didn't take the diagnosis seriously. I thought it was no big deal, just a tumor they’d go in and remove and I’d be home free. Back to a normal life in a week or so. My wife instinctively knew better. It was cancer and cancer is always serious. It wasn't until the surgeon gave me the brutal truth about what lay ahead that I realized what we were up against.

Then, in the midst of all the chemo and side effects and emotional roller coaster ups and downs I didn't want to talk much about it and my wife wanted me to. She needed to talk about it, to get it out in the open.  I tucked it away inside and hid my anxiety and stress and fear. We had some “intense fellowship” over  that issue which is portrayed in pretty real-to-life detail in the story.

Are there any characters or story lines from the book that came from your own experience with colon cancer? (For instance, the infusion room and the characters Nina meets there?) The description of the room itself was quite vivid.

Yeah, that scene in the infusion room was taken right from my own experience. I found that room very
intimidating. All those recliners and every one of them filled. The first time I walked in there two things hit me so hard they almost knocked me over. One, how prevalent cancer is, so many people battling it. And two, that I wasn't alone in the fight.But I felt alone and that is also portrayed through Nena’s character in the book. For anyone going through cancer there is this ominous feeling of aloneness. People can say they’re going through it with you or they can say they’re there to help and support you, but no matter what they say you feel alone in the battle. Their words are just words.

Did you learn anything you didn't realize you felt/had been affected in a certain way until you wrote about such a personal subject?

Writing this story helped me sort through my own emotions and feelings. While you’re going through cancer everything is a fog, you have all these emotions and fears and feelings of hope and isolation and promise and confusion that you feel like you really can’t make sense out of any of it. But as some time passes the fog begins to lift and writing is my way of dealing with the aftermath, of sorting out what I felt and why and how I can now, after four years, deal with some of it. I still think about cancer every day; I still look over my shoulder and wait for that shadow to sneak up on me again. I don’t think you ever fully get over this disease. The scar it leaves on you is deep and never completely heals. But in looking forward we see the life we've been given and there find hope and joy and freedom from fear.

What do you hope to achieve in terms of awareness of colon cancer by this novel?

I want people to see colon cancer (and any form of cancer) for the monster that it is but to know that it doesn't have to defeat us. There is hope, there is strength and courage and love. And though the cancer may rob us of physical vitality, it holds no power over our spirit. I’m also hoping the book will raise awareness that colon cancer, if caught early enough, is a treatable disease. Early detection is key. 

What motivated you to want to give back through the CCA?

I want others to be able to avoid what I had to go through. It was an experience that taught me a lot about myself, about others, and about God, but one I wouldn't want to repeat. If I can help even one person avoid battling this disease it will have all been worth it. Also, so many people came to our aid in so many ways that I wanted to give back in some small way. We were blessed in so many ways and now it’s our turn to bless someone else.

And lastly, I’m hoping to give some hope to others going through colon cancer by telling my story and sharing the hope and peace I eventually found in the midst of cancer. It’s weird to say but in many ways I see cancer as a blessing, an opportunity I had that most people never get to experience. It’s a matter of perspective and an important truth to share.

Thanks for stopping by Mike and letting us know about your new book and about your personal journey with colon cancer. I'm excited about this new book and look forward to reading it.

All the best to you in your writing journey!

Sincerely,

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
www.bookfun.org

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