Missouri woman's book honest look at cancer fight

BERNIE, Mo. (AP) — When Becky Dennington was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, some things were simply too scary to say out loud.

Writing, she said, offered a form of therapy.

First it was through a blog that kept friends and family up to date. Now her writings are in book that details the ups and downs of her fight, from her diagnosis through the trials of chemotherapy and radiation.

The 36-year-old married mother of two, who owns a nail business in Bernie, said that despite the cancer scare, she's happier now than she's ever been.

"It's not because of what happened. The book is a dream come true. But I see what I have, and I am so grateful for every minute. I just don't sweat the small stuff like I did before," said Dennington, who lives in Bernie.

The book was released late last year through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, the Poplar Bluff Daily American Republic reported (http://bit.ly/neW1pb).

A friend submitted her writings without her knowledge to Lazy Day Publishing, which approached her in December 2010 about turning the blog into a book. She finished her first draft in August, exactly a year after surgery to remove the lump in her breast.

"The chemo will not be the death of me," she wrote in the fall of 2010, shortly after her diagnosis. "But in a sense, I feel like that first drop of chemo is going to mark the end of this Beck. This blonde-haired, healthy, goofy, giddy Beck."

She recalled the tears when her husband helped shave what was left of her thick blond hair. Also among the hardest times was in February 2011, when Dennington spent six weeks in St. Louis getting radiation treatment five days a week while her husband and children remained in Bernie except for weekend visits.

"My heart breaks every time I watch that red truck drive away, Kelley's hand signing 'I Love You,' my children's hands hanging out their windows waving goodbye as I stand stubbornly on the sidewalk until they mix into the traffic and I can no longer see them," Dennington wrote after one visit.

In another entry, she wrote: "Cancer, you can't hide from me. If you're there, I will find you and, in Jesus' name, you WILL be removed from this body."

At times she felt like she was failing, though her sense of humor remained. When she had 15 chemotherapy treatments left, she cheered about having one treatment done. "Maybe I can't hold my head up, but the bright side is getting to take as many Big Fat Guilt-Free Medicated OR Nonmedicated naps as I want!" she wrote.

Dennington said the writing was easy because it was so honest.

"This was something I was going through and I wanted to remember everything, the ups and the downs," she said.

Dennington completed radiation treatments last April and has been deemed cancer free. She will continue getting shots every three months for the next five years to shut down her body's ability to produce estrogen, since the cancer was estrogen-fed. She will also need follow-up mammograms and tests to ensure the disease has not returned.

She hopes she has written a "how-to" book for those facing similar cancer fights.

"I think that's the biggest blessing," she said.

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