BOOK REVIEW: HOPE BEGINS IN THE DARK, REVISED EDITION

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Hope Begins In The Dark: 40 Lymphoma Survivors Tell Their Exclusive Life Stories, By Jamie Reno (Edwards Brothers Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2012, 246 pages).

Book review by Dennis Moore

October 2, 2012  (San Diego) -- Cancer, in all its forms and manifestations is an insidious disease, that does not discriminate.  It comes in the form of breast cancer, leiomyosarcoma, primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), prostate cancer, Askin's Sarcoma, or lymphoma, among many more. PSC, a rare disease that scars the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the small intestine to aid digestion, is the form of cancer that took the life of former NFL star Walter Payton.

Jamie Reno, journalist, singer-songwriter, patient advocate and 15-year survivor of stage IV non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, has written an all-new edition of a book that I had earlier had the honor of reviewing; Hope Begins In The Dark: 40 Lymphoma Survivors Tell Their Exclusive Life Stories.

I have a personal interest and investment in this book by Reno, as I too am a cancer survivor, surviving a bout with leiomyosarcoma.  Reno's earlier book, published in 2008, chronicled and profiled lymphoma survivors, such as Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

As with his first edition of Hope Begins In The Dark, the author brings together a diverse group of lymphoma survivors to share their remarkable stories in this new and updated version. Reno points out that lymphoma is the most common blood cancer, with more than 65,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. Notable in his book is the story of Anthony Rizzo, former baseball player for the San Diego Padres, now playing for my hometown Chicago Cubs.

Rizzo is quoted in Reno's book as stating: "When we found out I had lymphoma, Larry Lucchino (CEO of the Red Sox and a lymphoma survivor himself who is also profiled in this book) sent me a letter in the mail expressing sympathy. Jon Lester helped me out, too. Jon is a pitcher for the Red Sox who is also a lymphoma survivor who won a World Series game after his treatment. Larry and Jon both prepped me on what to go through, what to expect, and how to handle everything. It helped to have people who worked in professional baseball to support me, people who had already been through it."

What is remarkable about this young man, is the fact that he contracted this dreaded disease at the age of 18, and at the time of the writing of this book, at the tender age of 21, he is still playing the sport that he loves. I looked in the newspaper sports section just today and saw that in the box score Rizzo hit his 12th home run among his 3 hits for the Chicago Cubs, while batting .298, which to all those following sports, is a good batting average in baseball.

Hope Begins In The Dark (click to see the cover)resonates with me, as more and more it seems that cancer is all around me. Just recently, a very dear friend of mine in Chicago, Rene Noriega, called me and told me he had prostate cancer. I actually got a call this morning from Rene, calling from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. I told him he is in my prayers. Another friend in Chicago, Marty, recently died of cancer. Another friend that lives in LA, Louie, who frequently drives down to visit me, is currently undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatment for his cancer.

Jonna Tamases, a gifted actress and writer profiled in Reno's book, and most known for her recurring role as Irene in the ABC sitcom "Less Than Perfect" until she decided to turn her cancer experience into a one-woman show, is a survivor of both Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as well as breast cancer. In Hope Begins In The Dark, Tamases talks of the various diagnostic procedures she endured; a staging laparotomy, a bone scan, 11 weeks of radiation treatment to her chest and neck, as well as 12 rounds of intense chemotherapy: MACOP-B (Methotrexate, Adriamycin, Cytoxan, Oncovin, Prednisone, Bleomycin). What she went through is not for the faint of heart, but she came out of it another one of Reno's documented survivors.

Tamases indicates in Reno's book that these days her mother is going through chemo for breast cancer.

In the foreward to this encouraging and inspirational book, Michael Werner of the Lynphoma Research Foundation, and himself a lymphoma survivor, states: "It is in the dark of night  where hope begins for the cancer patient." Thus, Hope Begins In The Dark!" Reno has written a companion-piece to this book, a book that represents the anguish that tens of thousands of children deal with when they learn their parent, grandparent or other loved one has cancer; Snowman On The Pitcher's Mound.

For me, the most inspirational story in this book by Reno is that of Sean Swarner, the first cancer survivor to climb Mount Everest. Swarner is a remarkable human being. The only  person in the world ever to have been diagnosed with both Hodgkin's disease and Askin's Sarcoma, at age 13 and 15, respectively, Sean was basically written off by doctors both times, but somehow survived. And at age 28, despite having one lung, he became the first cancer survivor in the world to climb Mt. Everest, the 29,035 foot monster. Sean is also the first cancer survivor to climb the highest summit in each of the world's seven continents.

He states in Reno's book: "Not long before my 16th birthday, I was told I had Askin's Sarcoma and not expected to be alive for more than two weeks. Semi-conscious and in a drug-induced coma for a year, I managed to see the bright side of life and knew it was too short to be anything but happy. Shortly after diagnosis, I started intense doses of chemotherapy for three months. When the three months were over, I was put into a heavy treatment of radiation focused on my right lung. Five out of seven days I drove 90 miles each way to receive high doses of radiation to my pulmonary passage. Back in a drug-induced coma, I managed to battle my way into survivorhood. I was once again a thriver and wanted to show people that nothing is impossible."

Perhaps inspired by Reno and his book, two young women from my hometown of Chicago, Dana Russell and Rashidah Moore, in their 20s, have formed an organization to bring awareness to and combat breast cancer; "K.O. Breast Cancer." What motivated Dana was losing her mother to breast cancer in 2000, and ten years later, losing a close friend to the same dreaded disease at 26. Their website www.kobreastcancer.org chronicles an upcoming event dedicated to cancer awareness and fighting this dreaded disease. These enterprising young women, Rashidah and Dana, have arranged for another "Knockout Breast Cancer" event in Chicago in October, 2015. See attached. It would be great to see Chicago Cubs Allstar first baseman Anthony Rizzo at this event, as he is a cancer survivor himself.

Recently, in the USA Today, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society announced their 2012 National Man & Woman of the Year Winners. If I would have had a vote, it would have gone to Jamie Reno for his 15-year battle with the disease, as well as his book(s) bringing awareness as to how one can survive Lymphoma. Reno is an inspiration to all.

For more information on this book, visit http://www.hopebeginsinthedark.com.

Dennis Moore is the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego. He is also the author of a book about Chicago politics; "The City That Works: Power, Politics and Corruption in Chicago." Mr. Moore can be contacted at contractsagency@gmail.com or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.

Comments

Great article, Dennis. It

Great article, Dennis. It reminds me of my own battle against cancer. I actually wrote "How to turn scars into stars", overcoming the mental side of breast cancer. I am a breast cancer survivor for more than 16 years. When you survive from a horrible disease as cancer, it's for a reason,you have purpose to live, have faith and allow positiveness in you. Elma Dionela, author of "How to turn scars into stars", overcoming the mental side of breast cancer

Anthony Rizzo and Jon Lester share something in common

Anthony Rizzo and Jon Lester share something in common, they are both Lymphoma survivors. They also are teammates on the best team in baseball, heading for the World Series. They both played integral roles last night here in Los Angeles, as Lester pitched and Rizzo hit, as they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8 to 4. And to think. the San Diego Padres let Anthony Rizzo get away from them. I am so happy and proud of Rizzo, as I too am a cancer survivor, and Chicago is my home town. Although mostly a Chicago White Sox fan, I too have jumped on the Cubs bandwagon. Go Cubs! 

Great article, Dennis. It

Great article, Dennis. It reminds me of my own battle against cancer. I actually wrote "How to turn scars into stars", overcoming the mental side of breast cancer. I am a breast cancer survivor for more than 16 years. When you survive from a horrible disease as cancer, it's for a reason,you have purpose to live, have faith and allow positiveness in you. Elma Dionela, author of "How to turn scars into stars", overcoming the mental side of breast cancer

Chicago Cubs give Anthony Rizzo $41 Million

The great news about Jamie Reno's cancer survivor, 23-year old Anthony Rizzo, is the fact that the Chicago Cubs just rewarded him with their faith in him by signing him to a 7-year $41 million contract. Rizzo has just over a year of major-leage service, starting with the San Diego Padres, and is making $498,000.00this season. Rizzo is currently among the NL leaders in home runs and RBIs. 

"Anthony Rizzo hits 2 home runs to tie for NL lead"

Every time that Anthony Rizzo does something noteworthy, I marvel at his resilience, as this cancer survivor continually defies the adds against him. Yesterday Rizzo hit two home runs for the Chicago Cubs to tie for the National League lead. My hope for him is to stay healthy and to finish the season leading the National League in home runs. What a story that would be.

"Anthony Rizzo hits 2 home runs to tie for NL lead"

Every time that Anthony Rizzo does something noteworthy, I marvel at his resilience, as this cancer survivor continually defies the adds against him. Yesterday Rizzo hit two home runs for the Chicago Cubs to tie for the National League lead. My hope for him is to stay healthy and to finish the season leading the National League in home runs. What a story that would be.

"Rizzo Becoming a Superstar"

Why the Chicago Cubs Anthony Rizzo is turning into one of the games' elite hitters. Mike Petriello of 'insider" speculates that Anthony Rizzo is entering the "Best first baseman in the game" conversation, which includes Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmitt. This makes his cancer survival that much more remarkable, and something we all can be proud of.

Congratulations to Jamie Reno!

Jamie Reno did not want to toot his own horn, so I will do it for him. The San Diego Press Club, which is the third largest press club in the nation behind the national club in Washington, DC and Denver's press club, recently awarded him 12 awards, 7 of which were in the magazine and website categories. He was told that it was the biggest night for an individual journalist in the award's 40-year history.

PAGANO'S LEUKEMIA IN REMISSION

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is winning his battle with leukemia. On Monday, Dr. Larry Cripe, Pagano's physician, said the illness that has sidelined the Indianapolis head coach for more than a month was "in complete remission." Cripe said a morning exam showed Pagano's white blood cell count and bone marrow tests were normal as he prepares to start a second round of chemotherapy. The doctor explained patients typically undergo three rounds of treatment to wipe out any potentially lingering cancer cells.

In Memory of Larry Scott - A Tribute to Larry

I woke up this morning and started playing a CD of Al Green's Greatest Hits, and it dawned on me that it was actually a tribute to my dear friend Larry Scott, as we both idolized Al Green and his music. As I listened to tunes such as Love and Happiness and Belle, I got emotional, and actually cried, for it reminded me of the recent passing of Larry, and how we once stood on a corner of Sheridan & Pine Grove in Chicago some 35 to 40 years ago, around 2:00AM in the morning drinking a can of beer and trying to sing like Al Green. We actually teased each other about who was more like Al Green. I have so many fond memories of Larry Scott, as we both were born and raised in Charleston, Missouri so many years ago. Me and my brothers, Jerome, Ronnie and Jimmy, would go over to Mr. Scott's, Larry's father, and get our hair cut, as so many others in Charleston would do. We also have a family connection, as Larry has children with my sister Regina. Larry was such a fun-living person, and I can still see that crooked smile of his, along with that crazy laugh. Yes, I miss him, as I am sure so many others also do. Standing on that corner of Sheridan & Pine Grove in Chicago, just walking distance from Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, will always be a treasured memory for me of Larry. Larry is the second dear friend that I have lost in the last month to that dreaded disease of cancer. I am so thankful and Blessed that the Lord saw fit to have me survive my battle with cancer so many years ago, and for me, I want to do all I can to embrace my neice Rashidah's cancer awareness initiative. Regina, my dear sister, as well as Tisha and Rashidah, I share your pain at the loss of Larry, but we can rest assured that he brought all of us so many good memories. I know he told me he had that suit for me, as he said so many times over the years when we talked about it, but I trust and pray that one day he and I will meet again in Heaven and I will claim that suit. May God Bless you Larry! 

Rest in Peace my dear friend Larry Scott

I got news this morning from my brother in Chicago, that my dear friend referenced in this book review, Larry Scott, passed away. May you rest in peace, and May God Bless you and your family. We shared many great memories over the years. Love you much, Dennis

K.O. Breast Cancer

Rashidah, I am so proud of your bringing about the awareness of early treatment of cancer, and particularly breast cancer. Your grandfather Larry is in my prayers everyday as he battles prostrate cancer, as I recall the memories of he and I standing in front of my apartment building on Sheridan & Pine Grove in Chicago many years ago, pretending that we were Al Green while attempting to sing his songs. I have so many memories of Larry Scott, and will continue to keep him in my prayers, as well as you and the rest of our extended family.

Thank You From K.O. BREAST CANCER!!!

First, I would like to give a special thanks to Dennis (My Uncle)

Perfect timing Dennis, considering it's Breast Cancer Month!  Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with us, It's not a easy thing to do. It seens as if we all will have to battle some form of cancer one way or another. You may know someone who will battle this horrible disease or face it yourself. My Grandfather is battling Prostate Cancer and it is unexplainable the feeling I get when I see my Grandfather. This evil Disease has taken over his body, it's like watching him fade away. We can't pen point what or why but we do know with early detection there is a better chance. That's the reason we started K.O. Breast Cancer to bring awareness! Sadly, there is still no known cure for cancer. So, our best strategy for fighting this killer disease is early detection. The faster we find it, the sooner we can conquer it. So how can we reach a wide audience and emphasize the importance of “sooner than later”? K.O. Breast Cancer plans to build awareness by hosting Photo Shoots through out the city of Chicago and soon will traveling from state to state. Thank You Dennis for shining a light on K.O. Breast Cancer!!!! Please Check Out Our Website for more details WWW.KOBREASTCANCER.ORG

                              

Anthony Rizzo and the Chicago Cubs

Cancer survivor Anthony Rizzo hit a home run and had two doubles and drove in two runs, as the Chicago Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7 to 3 yesterday in Pittsburgh. Rizzo is now batting .284 with 13 home runs on the season, playing 1st base for my hometown Chicago Cubs. I certainly hope that his cancer battles are behind him.

HOPE BEGINS IN THE DARK

After getting a message yesterday that my dear friend Louie, referenced in my review, had passed away from colon cancer, I called another dear friend in Chicago referenced in this review, Rene Noriega, and inquired of him about his condition. he indicated to me that the prostrate cancer that he had earlier indicated to me he had, evidently was mis-diagnosed, and that he does not have it. Thank God!

IN MEMORY OF LOUIE ROSS

I just got a voicemail message this morning indicating that my dear friend Louie Ross, referenced in my review, passed away from colon cancer. I have many fond memories of Louie, as we would drive together down to La Mision and Rosarito Beach in Mexico, swapping stories. Louie was well versed on many subjects, and had a wealth of information and insight. I recall just recently when he would drive down from Long Beach, and he would spend the night at my apartment in Tijuana, and we would go out to dinner at local Mexican restaurants. I also recall several years ago when he and his son, Ryan, would sit together out on the deck of the apartment complex that we lived at in Tijuana, celebrating Thanksgiving. I still have those photos of him and his son, as well as photos that Louie and I had taken together down in La Mision. I recall Louie telling me of the movie that he had a small role in (Little Boy) down near Rosarito Beach at the Fox Studios. He will truly be missed! May God Bless you Louie, Dennis

Louie

RIP, Louie Ross!

 

Hope begins in the dark

What an inspirattion these people are! Well written review, Dennis.  

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

As this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Jamie Reno's book is most timely! I am honored to have written the review of his very informative book.

Thanks Dennis

Thanks very much for the kind review of my book, Dennis. I really appreciate it. Writing this book has been a very positive and humbling experience. It has been distributed all over the world and has become the most popular book ever written about lymphoma survivors. I am proud of every survivor I write about in this book - and I am proud of every cancer survivor I meet, including you, Dennis. We are one big family. Here is the book's website www.hopebeginsinthedark.com, and here is my email if anyone wants to say hello jreno@san.rr.com. Thanks Dennis, and thanks East County Magazine! Jamie Reno

SAN DIEGO CANCER DRUG DEVELOPER SOLD

In another example of how highly San Diego's biotech expertise is valued, Johnson & Johnson is buying cancer drug developer Aragon Pharmaceuticals for up to $1 billion. The drug giant said Monday it will pay $650 million in cash upfront, along with additional milestone payments that could reach $350 million, according to a story by Bradley J. Fikes today in the San Diego U-T. Aradon is developing treatments for cancers that use testosterone and other hormones to fuel their growth. The privately held company's flagship drug, ARN-509, treats prostrate cancers resistant to surgery or medication that lowers testoterone. Johnson & Johnson says it wants to pair the drug with its existing prostrate cancer drug, Zytiga.

Congratulations for Jamie Reno!

Jamie Reno did not want to toot his own horn, so I will do it for him. Jamie recently won 12 San Diego Press Club awards, 7 of which were in the magazine and website categories. He was told that it was the biggest night for an individual journalist in the award's 40-year history.

Congratulations to Jamie Reno on his San Diego Press Club Awards

Jamie Reno did not want to toot his own horn, so I will do it for him. The San Diego Press Club, which is the third largest press club in the nation behind the national club in Washington DC, and Denver's press club, recently awarded him 12 awards, 7 of which were in the magazine and website categories. Jamie was told that it was the biggest night for an individual journalist in the award's 40-year history.

Hope Begins in the Dark

A well-written article, Dennis.  It seems that today everyone either knows someone who now has or had cancer, or, is going through it himself. I lost my 41 year old niece to cancer.  To be a fifteen year survivor, is amazing!  Linda Loegel, author of Twelve Steps to Becoming an Author.