Complete

Cancer is completing my life, making it whole.  It’s a strange thing to say, isn’t it?  Most would say that cancer, the terminal kind, is truncating and destroying their lives.  For a long time, especially in the beginning of this cancer journey, I felt that way too, but no longer.  It all makes sense now.  Cancer and even congenital blindness make sense now.  The “Why?” question I’ve spent my entire life asking and which I never thought I would be able to decipher, at least not in this life, has a credible, tangible answer now.  All the suffering and all the joy, all the tears and all the laughter, from the moment of my birth to my very last breath, a life that has seen more than its fair share of excruciating pain as well as spectacular achievements, I understand it all now.  I have found the meaning and purpose I have desperately sought my entire life.  And that is an incredible, beautiful, glorious thing to be able to say.  No one, and certainly not I, could ask for more than that in one lifetime, as brief as it may be.

You see, I secured a huge book deal with the very prestigious publisher, Random House, in which this blog will, in the hands of the finest editors in the world, be transformed into the memoir I always dreamed of publishing.

Can I say that again to dispel the surrealism of what is in fact real?  I secured a huge book deal with the very prestigious publisher, Random House, in which this blog will, in the hands of the finest editors in the world, be transformed into the memoir I always dreamed of publishing, except maybe not the whole cancer part, but I will take it anyway.  It turned out that the cancer bit was a necessary part of my story.  This blog, everything I’ve written and now this book would not have been possible without all the pain and suffering and the insights and lessons that have resulted therefrom.  Here is a link to a Publisher’s Weekly article that includes a blurb about my-as-yet-untitled memoir at the recent Frankfurt Book Fair, if you want evidence.

It came unexpectedly, unbidden in the final months of my life, the many pieces magically and even miraculously falling into place, as if moved by divine forces, manipulated by the invisible hand of God, those forces of good of which I have written in the past that have always somehow protected me and made me powerful, even at my weakest, in the face of those forces that would do me harm.

This part of my story began two years ago, when after I read a series of articles about a colon cancer patient from Mississippi published in Esquire, I was compelled to leave a public comment on the final installment of the series, something I had never done and haven’t done since.  The series recounted the story of Stephanie Lee and the two writers who befriended her and gave her access to the cutting edge of medicine.  One of those writers, Mark Warren, ultimately became her medical proxy as she was dying, at her request.  I was so touched by the compassion of these men and told them in this comment that I thought they exemplified the best of humanity, something I had personally come to witness myself since my diagnosis two years prior and bearing witness to that kind of humanity had humbled me to the core.  My comment was not long nor do I think it was very profound, but, for some reason, Mark reached out to me and friended me on Facebook.  Of course, I didn’t recognize his name when I received the friend request because I hadn’t paid attention to the names of the authors of those articles.  I get tons of Facebook requests, which I generally just accept.  Mark then sent me a message and asked to meet for lunch.  He lives in New York City, so that was easy enough.

Thus began a friendship that would change my life, as friendships tend to do, but this one in ways I could have never imagined.  Mark was still grieving Stephanie’s loss and I believe that he needed to talk to me, that in me he found some kind of comfort, someone who understood the disease and what it is like to live under its shadows.  He is older than I am, avuncular, a very sensitive, thoughtful, forthright man who does not run from talking about the hard and uncomfortable things.  Immediately, I saw that we had something big in common – we both love stories, people’s stories.  We are fascinated by people and what moves them.  I thought it was so cool and enviable that he got to talk to all kinds of people as part of his job, see into their lives, learn from them.  In another life, I would have done what Mark did and does.  He was at the time the executive editor at Esquire, number three in line, right after the editor-in-chief and deputy editor-in-chief.  He had been at Esquire for nearly 30 years.

Throughout the next couple years, we would meet for breakfast and lunch from time to time.  I asked him whether he thought I could write a book, something separate from the blog.  He was always encouraging, telling me that I had a natural voice, something that many writers struggle their entire lives to find.  The praise, coming from him, meant a lot.  But I didn’t have it in me to write a book.  I didn’t have the time or energy to write a book on top of the blog.  Writing for the blog was easy and it was enough; the subjects of each post came effortlessly to me as I went through my life with cancer; the blog was my much needed avenue of release.  A book was too hard, although I wanted it.

Then, in July, after the scan results that kicked me off the most promising of clinical trials, as I went about seriously putting my affairs in order, I started thinking about my blog and what would happen to it after I was gone.  I asked Josh to find an editor after my death, pay him if necessary, and have him turn my blog into a book, and then try to get it published.  I was clear; no self-publishing.  It could be a small publisher, but I wanted a legitimate publishing house.  At least, that way, my girls would have a real book to hold in their hands, something they could easily turn to when they were missing me and wanting to hear my voice.  I had asked Mark before giving my instructions to Josh whether he thought there would be a market for such a book.  Mark said absolutely.  He also asked to come see me.

Over tea and pastries, we talked about the potential book in earnest.  He said he could be my editor.  A year ago, his world had been turned upside down when the editor-in-chief of Esquire of 19 years, David Granger, was unexpectedly fired by new management.  Along with him went much of the senior staff, including Mark.  Since then, Mark had been freelancing, working on a big book, but now that project was done and he had time.  While I recognized how opportune his firing from Esquire and the completion of a major project could be for me, I was hesitant.  I told him we were friends and I didn’t want to take advantage of that friendship and perhaps our friendship would make him not a good candidate for the job.  He said, he would read my blog from beginning to end and then give me his professional opinion as to whether he could or should do it.  It was at this meeting that he first made mention of Andy Ward, editor-in-chief at Random House.  Andy had at one point been at Esquire too but had long since moved on.  He and Mark were friends and still worked on projects together.  More importantly for me, Andy had been the editor of the bestselling When Breath Becomes Air, the memoir of Paul Kalanithi, a young and brilliant neurosurgeon who ultimately succumbed to lung cancer.  Mark said he would mention me to Andy.  Great, I said.  Everything seemed so up in the air and hypothetical then that I didn’t get very excited about any of it.

Of course, I knew about When Breath Becomes Air.  Paul Kalanithi had published two essays in a Stanford publication and the New York Times that had gone viral.  I had read both and had been blown away by the beauty of his writing.  It was intimidating.  I was afraid to read the whole book for fear that I wouldn’t be able to write after that.  But after talking to Mark, I thought it was time to read the book.  I had come to a point in my grieving process where I desperately needed guidance on how to accept my impending death, how to confront it with grace and dignity, how to find meaning out of my crazy life.  So I read.

His writing was as breathtaking as I remembered.  Within the pages of his words, instead of guidance, I found permission to die.  His intent no doubt was not to grant such permission, which is an extraordinarily personal thing, but that is what I found.  In some ways, we had things in common, in addition to a cancer diagnosis.  We knew the same people.  We ran in the same educational circles, although he was a couple years younger than I.  His parents were immigrants.  Beyond that though, here was this neurosurgeon, who hailed from Stanford, Oxford and Yale, a literary genius of the highest order, a man who saved lives with his skilled hands and who would have saved more lives with both his hands and his scientific research.  His was a life that was and would have been important and meaningful and far-reaching, much more so than mine is or could ever be.  But he died and more quickly than I after diagnosis.  He too fell victim to this disease.  And if it happened to him and he could accept his diagnosis and death with the pragmatism that comes with being a doctor and the grace that comes with being a deep thinker, then I could certainly do the same.  He died, as great as he was and would have been.  So, it was okay for me to die too.

But the guidance on how to die wasn’t really there.  I came to the end of the book and wanted to know what happened during the next and final eight months of his life.  His book was incomplete because he died and he didn’t have time to write more.  I guess that was the point.  Much of what he wrote was about the beginning of the cancer journey; all of those emotions and thoughts he described, I understood, but I wanted more from him.  And if I wanted more, I knew that other readers wanted more.  Ultimately, it was the epilogue, written by his wife, a wonderful writer in her own right, about her husband’s last days that I found most enlightening.  It was clear to me after reading When Breath Becomes Air that there just might be a place for my work in this world.

Shortly before Labor Day, Mark came back to visit me.  He had finished reading my blog from beginning to end, which was no small undertaking!  He told me first that Andy had offered him a job as the next executive editor at Random House, and he had accepted.  I was thrilled for him.  Then, he told me that he wanted to collaborate with me and edit my book and push it through at Random House.  He could not guarantee that Random House would want the book, in which case, he would work to get it published at another publishing house, which he was sure would happen.  I was ecstatic.  How could I say no to this?

After that, everything began moving very quickly.  The week after Labor Day, on a Tuesday, Mark brought his agent to meet me, with the hope that his agent would take me on as a client.  If I was going to have a book published, I needed a literary agent to represent my interests.   His agent was David Granger, the former editor-in-chief of Esquire of 19 years.  I started freaking out, knowing that this man, whose firing the year before had generated all kinds of buzz in the media and of whom numerous extensive articles have been written, was coming to my home.  He knows all manner of celebrities in the world; it comes hand-in-hand with being editor-in-chief of a big magazine for 19 years.  Anyhow, he came with Mark.  Mark, who had been to my apartment many times and who knows my no-shoe rule, prompted David to take off his shoes the moment he stepped inside.  I was mortified.  Here was this very important person taking off his shoes in my home!  And Chipper, the dog, was going nuts.

David, always dressed impeccably in his suits, was so unassuming that I would have never guessed he was a big shot if I didn’t know.  He described my writing as majestic and lyrical.  It was incredible to hear.  He then started asking me about what kind of financial package I had in mind.  I said, I had ever thought for one second about a financial package.  We talked about whether to conduct an auction or go directly to Random House.  In the interest of time, and because of Mark’s imminent role at Random House and its ties to When Breath Becomes Air and their relationship with Andy, it made sense to go straight to Random House to give them a preemptive offer.

That Friday, both men came back out to Brooklyn to meet Josh for the first time over lunch.  I had made it clear that after my death, Josh would be the final decision maker when it came to matters related to my book so it was important for them to meet him and for him to be involved in all the important discussions.  Now, there was a person other than me who could corroborate all the crazy happenings.  By the following Monday, in less than a week, David had spoken preliminarily with Andy, had put together the proposal and sent it to Andy.  The proposal, which was basically a letter from David to Andy about me with excerpts from my blog, was absolutely amazing; it made me cry.  David gave Andy a one-week exclusivity period, meaning that Random House had to respond within the week.  I was so anxious.  The following Monday, David told me that Random House was firming up their offer.  Over the next couple days, Andy and David negotiated a six-figure advance for North American rights to publish my book.  I don’t care about the amount of the advance because I need the money, but as David told me, one wants as big an advance as possible because it indicates the publishing house’s commitment to and belief in your work.  Even at the number Random House initially proposed, it was clear that their commitment and belief was very strong.  They think that I can follow in the footsteps of When Breath Becomes Air.  By the end of the week, we had come to an agreement on the final number and the deal was official.  It was absolutely unreal, crazy, unbelievable, amazing, incredible, euphoric; there are not enough adjectives to describe how it all felt.

Some people with whom I have shared the news respond, I supposed based on the strength of my writing, with, “I’m not surprised.”  But I am.  Things like this don’t happen to normal people.  It isn’t easy to get published.  The stars had to align, and that was completely out of my hands.  I have dreamed of being published for at least ten years, but it often involves pursuing many agents and then, if you’re lucky enough to get an agent, more time is spent finding a publisher after much rejection.  It doesn’t happen like this, where people and things are just falling into your lap.  And six-figure advances for a first-time, unknown writer, never!  International publishers have also started to make offers.  Last week, I accepted a six-figure offer from a U.K. publisher.  The rest of the world tends to follow the U.K., I’m told.  I’ve also accepted offers for publishers in Holland and Brazil.  We expect more offers to come in from other countries.  This kind of international interest at this early stage is also unusual, I’m told.  My story is also being pitched to movie and TV directors and executives, but that part is all very remote at this point.

That Friday afternoon, as I was receiving chemo and experiencing an allergic reaction that was sending my blood pressuring to 190/119 and the nursing staff into a frenzy as they shot me up with Benadryl and Demerol, Andy sent me the following email, entitled “Welcome to Random House”:

Dear Julie,

I just wanted to reach out to you and say (a) how honored we are to be publishing you, and (b) how blown away I was by the power, beauty, and honesty of what you have written. I don’t have words yet to describe how I felt while reading your letter to your kids. I tried to express it, and I can’t – at least, not adequately. I guess I can say is that I have been thinking about it ever since. My wife and kids have read it, too. You have the soul of a writer, and I can’t wait to meet you and get to know you. Publishing books like this, writing like this, is why I got into this business in the first place. One of the great pleasures of this job is publishing books we love – and, as it happens, some of those books actually *matter*. Not all of them, but some of them. Yours will be one of them. Thank you for trusting us with it, and I very much look forward to seeing you on Tuesday.

Andy

I have the soul of a writer.  My book will “matter”.  It was all for this.  I cried then for everything that has ever happened to me, including the violent chills that had just racked my body not an hour before, for this incredible life that has brought me to this place.  I shed tears of awe and incredulity and joy and gratitude and wonder and humility and relief and understanding.  Blessed understanding.

In Mark’s, Andy’s and David’s masterful editorial hands, this blog in the form of a book will become something different, something more powerful that will speak to not just cancer patients but anyone who has suffered and struggled in their lives.  The book will not be simply a compilation of my blog posts; it will be a memoir that tells my story that spans so many worlds, from cancer to blindness to Vietnam to immigration to motherhood, in whose pages I hope its readers will find solace and comfort and themselves.  The bulk of the work to be done will be Mark’s from here on out, for I have little left to write.  As Mark told me, “You’ve spent the last four years writing a book.  Congratulations.”  I trust Mark implicitly.  I know he will do right by me.  How lucky I am to have such an amazing editorial team.  I feel relief, knowing that were I to die tomorrow, my work will live on, that they will shepherd it into a beautiful final product that will live on long after I am gone.

And yes, this book will be published posthumously.  This is my intention and my desire.  Its true power lies in that posthumous publication.  I want Josh, with Mark’s help as necessary, to write the epilogue.  I want them to share with the world the experience of my death and how he, Josh, and the girls cope with my death in the short term.  I will entrust this blog also to Josh and Mark once I can no longer write.

That being said, I want to live as long as I can to see the editorial process, to come up with a title for the book, to even approve the book cover.  I want to do as much publicity ahead of time as possible before I become too ill.  There’s talk of me doing interviews, a TED talk, a New York Times op-ed, etc.  There is nothing concrete yet.  To that end, all treatments now are geared towards me being able to do what I need and want to for the book.  I’m undergoing radiation next week to deal with the painful tumor on my abdominal wall that continues to grow despite the chemo.  The last scan, to my shock, showed overall stability with a couple areas of growth.  My oncologist thinks I should continue, which I reluctantly agreed to do.  It was then that I got the allergic reaction.  I went to see an allergist last Friday, who deemed that while my reaction was unpleasant, it was not a histamine-induced reaction and therefore not life-threatening and that I should be able to just power through with more Demerol.  Great.  So, I have treatment later this week.  Whatever it takes to be around to work on the book, right?

Josh, who is so proud of me and so excited, is not one to stand in the spotlight.  So the book makes him a little uncomfortable.  He fears having to grieve publicly.  I understand.  He will want to do whatever it takes to publicize and market my book out of a sense of duty, but it is not a role he will come to naturally.  I’ve told him again and again that he doesn’t need to do anything he’s not comfortable doing.  I want to take as much as possible off his shoulders.  In our first meeting at Random House with the various important people who will be involved in the production and marketing of this book, those very important people conveyed the same message to Josh.  But if he chose to do, for example, an interview on the Today show, there would be a team of people to prep him for those types of media coverage.  (Again, can you believe this???)  Random House is amazingly supportive and enthusiastic about this book.

I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an immigrant, a cancer patient, a lawyer and now a writer, about to leave a legacy few ever manage to do.  I lived always with good intentions and a good heart, although I’m sure I have hurt people along the way.  I tried my best to live a full, rewarding life, to deal with the inevitable trials and tribulations with grace and to emerge with my sense of humor and love for life intact.  That’s all.  And this is where I am now.  Even though I’m dying at the age of 41 and leaving my precious children behind, I’m happy.  My life is complete, and in no small part, I have to thank cancer for that.  No one could ask for more.

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35 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Maia Walker
    Oct 16, 2017 @ 20:49:46

    So happy for you, so proud of you, my beloved Julie. Keep walking, keep walking… May you be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. Love you.

    Reply

  2. Jeffrey Jordan
    Oct 16, 2017 @ 20:55:47

    I’ve often commented, and then edited my comment, and then thought I really didn’t have a worthy comment or thought, and then deleted my comment before hitting post, so that each became the “thought that counts” minus the gift of words, because I couldn’t actually see my words as much of a gift. They were pretty banal, actually. Anyway, this comment might be equally banal, but I have to say CONGRATULATIONS! And so I do. It’s wonderful to hear of your book deal.

    Reply

  3. Cindy
    Oct 16, 2017 @ 21:04:03

    You enlighten all of us…. thank you… so sorry you are the chosen one…i survive and go on.. Your story goes on and on thank you… you make a difference… Again thank you

    Reply

  4. Anne
    Oct 16, 2017 @ 21:10:29

    What a joyous event! Not only will your daughters be able to hear your voice in your writing, the rest of the world will also have an opportunity to enrich their lives with your words. I have loved this blog and I know I will love the book. So very happy for you!

    Reply

  5. Chrissy Rice
    Oct 16, 2017 @ 21:11:28

    Tears of joy and tears of bittersweet endings. The beautiful circle of life trumps the suffering and pain of cancer.
    Love you Julie and that your universe has been joined to mine through your blogs, disease and now your book.
    Hugs
    Chrissy

    Reply

  6. Carrie Griffin Basas
    Oct 16, 2017 @ 21:15:28

    Congratulations!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply

  7. Mary King
    Oct 16, 2017 @ 21:21:22

    This is so well deserved. Honestly, every time I read your blog, I think Oprah needs to know about this girl to get a movie of Julie’s life underway. Having no connections, it is always just a passing thought. I am beyond thrilled for you and this accomplishment. Thanks you as always for your legacy of inspiring others reluctantly caught up in the world of cancer. God Bless you and your family.

    Reply

  8. Mary Jo Hazard, M.A., M.F.T.
    Oct 16, 2017 @ 21:22:09

    Denton and Angel told me about your unbelievable book deal with Random House. They also told me about your situation and your blog which I read immediately. I’m so impressed with your strength and courage, so many people suffering from cancer like you are will be comforted and supported by your book. What a wonderful gift you’re leaving the world. Thank you.

    Reply

  9. Laura Bennett
    Oct 16, 2017 @ 21:49:03

    Congratulations, Julie! Your willingness to share your thoughts and raw emotions has been and continues to be its own form of therapy for many readers.

    Reply

  10. William Simpson
    Oct 16, 2017 @ 22:09:35

    Oh, Julie.That is wonderful news about the book! I knew there was a book in there from the very first entry. I might even had said that to you way back then. And it’s big time, not a self published undertaking. So I’m very happy for you and still sad at the same time. A rush of emotions right now. Yours, Bill

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Reply

  11. Andrea Jamieson
    Oct 16, 2017 @ 22:13:29

    I am so happy for you! I think it is only people going through this crazy life we are living that can really understand feeling joy when most others can only see sorrow. You have always been posting with raw honesty and I am so happy for you and your family to be experiencing true joy and happiness right now. Congratulations just doesn’t seem like enough.

    Reply

  12. Janie Davis
    Oct 16, 2017 @ 22:15:02

    God bless you, Julie!
    I remember you telling me early on that writing was your true passion and what a gift you possess and have shared with so many of us.
    Your strength, courage and honesty is a true lesson in life. You are beautiful inside and out and am so grateful to call you my friend!
    Congratulations on your book deal, you are a true inspiration. Thank you for sharing your life, so eloquently written.
    You are loved, Julie Yip-Williams! 💞

    Reply

  13. Ingga Ong
    Oct 16, 2017 @ 22:19:45

    Congratulations Julie. I have read your blog from beginning to end. You articulated your self so well, and you describe the Chinese immigrant cultural experience so accurately. Thank you for sharing with us your soul with such honesty. God Bless you and your family, ingga

    Reply

  14. Eric
    Oct 16, 2017 @ 22:32:06

    Julie, awesome news to hear about the book deal. But even “awesomer” news to hear that your body is essentially holding serve against the cancer. If the book is only published posthumously, hopefully that won’t happen for another 15-20 years.. LOL.

    Congratulations and please keep trying to take care of yourself.

    Reply

  15. Katie
    Oct 16, 2017 @ 22:33:20

    Congratulations! I have been reading since the beginning – I read about your blog in the Williams Alumni Review. You were diagnosed a few months after my infant son was diagnosed with high risk neuroblastoma. I’m the caregiver rather than the patient and hearing your POV has been so powerful over the last four years. Congrats on the six-figure advances! What a legacy to leave to your daughters!

    Reply

  16. Holly Han
    Oct 17, 2017 @ 00:40:10

    So I left an incoherent happy response on FB, here’s a more coherent response. I couldn’t be happier and more proud. I’m hopeful that I will learn more about you in the book. I am thrilled that your story will be out there for millions to read – your precious story about coming to America, growing up, your studies, travels, meeting Josh, your children, finding out that you had cancer – and how you have touched so many people.

    I believe that you will be most happy to leave this to your children. I hope that I get to see you again soon. If not, I hope that my children get to meet yours. And if not, please make sure Josh knows that I will/want to help if I ever can.

    With much love and respect,
    Holly

    Reply

  17. The Astonishing FMan
    Oct 17, 2017 @ 01:28:58

    Okay, Julie, dunno if I mentioned this before. I’ve been intending to ask you about a small loan (just a few thou), so your timing seems perfect. And I also intend to claim every plausible milligram of credit I can colorably claim for your book.

    Kidding aside,

    Along with all your readers with whom you’ve generously shared your life these years, sharing now in your happiness, we feel we also share in your success because we read your writing faithfully, encouraged you, worried about you, cheered for you, and loved you. We’re grateful to be able to claim an honest pride in your great accomplishment.

    I’m giddy with joy for you, with you, and yet a bit jealous. Knowing you as I’ve come to know you, I hope your hearing that I am indeed a little jealous will cause you an euphoric twinge of guilty pleasure, which it would be wrong for me to deny you by pretending not to be at all afflicted with envy. I am jealous! But mostly just so, so happy for you.

    (BTW: Your life story would make an epic film! Hmm? What actor should portray Josh?]

    Reply

    • julielyyip
      Oct 17, 2017 @ 16:32:31

      If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last 4 years, it’s that happiness and jealousy can exist together (although I don’t think anyone would want to trade places with me).

      Reply

      • The Astonishing FMan
        Oct 19, 2017 @ 09:57:25

        Josh would not like that at all. I’d be a terrible S2dW. I’d nag him mercilessly, waste all his money on expensive shoes and handbags, feed the girls McDonalds, and let them watch TV all day. No one could ever replace you. Love ya!

  18. catia conti
    Oct 17, 2017 @ 07:01:42

    All my love to you! You are a really special person…on the way to be an angel!

    Reply

  19. Sue Theeck
    Oct 17, 2017 @ 07:49:49

    Julie….I am so happy for you 💗

    Reply

  20. Stephanie Nelson
    Oct 17, 2017 @ 08:14:58

    Happy for your book adventure. I can’t even imagine it! I thought to myself how lucky you are but then I immediately became sad. I’m sorry that your dream is coming true but you won’t be here and alive on Earth to see it. I wish you could see the expressions on your children’s faces as they read your book for the first time. I’m sorry you have to leave, and I’m sorry life can be so unfair.

    Reply

  21. Victoria Ostezan
    Oct 17, 2017 @ 09:22:03

    To use your words….
    “Things like this don’t happen to normal people.”
    Well my friend, there’s nothing normal about you! Embrace your extrodanairy!!! 💗
    Congratulations 🍾🎈🎉

    Reply

  22. ellen
    Oct 17, 2017 @ 10:25:04

    Congratulations! You do have an amazingly powerful voice and it is wonderful that you will be heard worldwide.

    Reply

  23. Mirna
    Oct 17, 2017 @ 12:45:22

    i am thrilled for you! you derserved it. i have read your blog from day one and each entry leaves behind such a mark. all the best for the “crazy” and busy months ahead.

    Reply

  24. Bobby Chen
    Oct 17, 2017 @ 12:54:31

    Julie: We have followed your battle with cancer for a long time through my sister Susan who is your HLS classmate. I also knew Paul Kalanithi at Stanford. Congratulations on your book contract and for the legacy you will be able to leave for your family and others to understand your experience. We pray that God would continue to grant peace to you and your family and comfort in the knowledge that another part of His plan for you has been revealed to you.

    Chrissy, Bobby, Chloe, Caleb, and Cameron Chen
    Waco, Texas

    Reply

  25. Patricia
    Oct 17, 2017 @ 21:33:07

    What a wonderful legacy! As always, you are amazing Julie! Peace and Love sent to you and your family.

    Reply

  26. Katie
    Oct 18, 2017 @ 16:40:02

    This is incredible. Your writing and your story are so powerful. No one is more deserving. Your blog has had a huge influence on me as a caregiver for my mom, and I think of you often. Sending all of my good vibes to you for strength. Congratulations!

    Reply

  27. Ruth
    Oct 18, 2017 @ 18:43:12

    I think I discovered your blog in the fall of 2013 while searching for information after my mom was diagnosed with a different kind of stage IV cancer and have been following it ever since. Thank you for sharing your story and your personal history and journey. Your strength, courage, humor, fear and many, many emotions always come through with such honesty. Congratulations on your book deal! It is wonderful to hear your happy/ecstatic/excited voice at this stage. What a legacy you are leaving your girls. When the time comes – please, let it be a LONG time from now – perhaps this will be a gift for Josh too as he goes through the mourning process. In the meantime, CONTINUE to live, love, and laugh as much as possible and enjoy your book adventure!

    Reply

  28. Michelle
    Oct 18, 2017 @ 22:59:31

    Julie, your joy is palpable and it’s so wonderful to read! We are overjoyed at your happiness in fulfilling your dream of being published. We have marveled at your words, your ability to write with passion, nuance and truth. We thank you for taking us on this journey with you. Please know you have given us a wonderful gift already. Your written words validated our feelings, thoughts, concerns and fears on this journey. Thank you for your voice. LOVE and PEACE to you and your family!

    Reply

  29. Tyler Burton
    Oct 21, 2017 @ 08:14:21

    Congratulations!!! It is so wonderful that your editor found YOU! Your story of strength and your entire family’s journey will empower millions. Thank you Julie, Josh and the girls for your generosity. With love, The Burton family.

    Reply

  30. Lilly
    Oct 25, 2017 @ 13:36:51

    Congratulations Julie! I am really glad to see that Random House’s role in this brings a sense of meaning, closure, and at the very end, JOY and HAPPINESS in this. It is truly a legacy you leave. I, too, felt some kinship with Paul and with you, for the reasons you mention. David told me about your publication, but I had gotten hints of it from other comments previously posted, and I am really excited for you. You write SO WELL. I started saying I was going to write a book when diagnosed, but I keep “putting it off” and don’t even do an ounce of justice to CaringBridge updates. This blog has been a literary work in the making since I started reading it, and I do believe the stars aligned to make this work. You deserve it, your girls deserve it, and your family will always be able to hand the book to people and say “this is Julie at the end, in a nutshell” and stand back and let YOU do the talking for yourself. Your daughters will know you better as you look down at them from heaven. I am so happy for you.

    Reply

  31. Diane E Tavegia
    Nov 07, 2017 @ 12:30:35

    Julie, I found your blog while trying to find an excuse for my CEA to jump 1.5 points in three weeks (Stage IV in 2009, liver met in 2012 and all was well until 27 days ago when CEA rose above normal). I have cried and rejoiced and cried some more while reading your blog.

    I loved your insistence that death be included in your story. No one has ever told us how to die! I’m 67 and guess I just always figured I’d drift off to sleep like my grandmother did at 98.

    Thank you, God bless you and may the rest of your life be as wonderful as the first. I hope your book isn’t published for many years and that those years are filled with joy and love.

    Reply

  32. Diane E Tavegia
    Nov 07, 2017 @ 12:31:44

    That should have said Stage III in 2009 and Stage IV in 2012.

    Reply

  33. Victoria Nooner Ozimek
    Nov 09, 2017 @ 12:36:49

    The list of accomplishments of those we graduated with from HLS are long, but it is those like you that make me the proudest to have crossed paths with, even if only in the briefest moments.

    Reply

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