About the Book: Damocles' Wife

“The truthfulness of this book by Shelly Francis will help identify the many emotional, mental, and spiritual phases of walking with another soul on earth whose body has been struck by deep challenge. It’s the truth telling that readers in similar situations will resonate with.” —Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD

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Surviving Fully through the Journey of Cancer

If you've ever wondered how you might find the courage, hope, and faith to face the challenges of cancer and caregiving, you're not alone.

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Damocles’ Wife: The Inside Story of Cancer Caregiving & Long-Term Survival
in the Midst of Motherhood, Marriage & Making Life Matter

If you've ever wondered how you might find the courage, hope, and faith to face the challenges of cancer and caregiving, you're not alone. Damocles’ Wife reveals the inner journey of a cancer caregiver, a young wife and mother whose husband becomes a long-term survivor of brain cancer.

Follow their story, inside and out, through nine months of brain tumor treatment: neurosurgery, radiation, tumor doubles, second opinions, second surgery–this time awake–with photodynamic therapy, chemo, chemo, chemo, then high-dose chemotherapy with stem-cell rescue. Recovery…

Given a prognosis of two to five years, maybe ten, for his astrocytoma, Scott invoked his inner samurai to face aggressive traditional treatment, combined with integrative medicine like Healing Touch. Meanwhile, Shelly called on her inner resources, plus the rest of Scott’s caregiving crew, so that she could take care of him, herself, and their preschooler son, Wil, and still be standing no matter what.

This is the whole family's story of learning to cope not only with the practical aspects of cancer and caregiving but, most essentially, how to really survive—in your soul. Join their journey as they learn to take down the Sword of Damocles hanging over Scott’s head and finally embrace life with all of its changes.

The first caregiver memoir to address long-term cancer survival, Damocles’ Wife will resonate with families facing cancer of all kinds, families dealing with chronic illness, disability, and dementia, as well as families of returning soldiers now facing life with traumatic brain injury. The book is a timely and poignant "case study" because in April 2012, TEDMED named "The Caregiving Crisis" the #2 most important health and medical issue of the year.

What is the Sword of Damocles ( DAM-uh-kleez) ?

Read more about Damocles at WikipediaIn Damocles' Stories, the foreword written by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD (author of Women Who Run with the Wolves), readers will gain insight into the cultural legend of the Sword of Damocles (pronounced DAM-uh-kleez) from Greek history and her own "peasant" family's stories passed down through generations. The anecdote originates from the 4th century court of Dionysius II, as told by Cicero. A courtier, Damocles, so admired and pandered to the king that Dionysius invited Damocles to sit on his throne at a feast. But he arranged for a sharp sword to hang over Damocles' head by the single hair of a horse's tail, proving to Damocles the hard reality of "the fortunate man." (Illustration from the Damocles entry in Wikipedia, Richard Westall's Sword of Damocles, 1812.)

In 1981, researchers named Gerald P. Koocher, PhD, and John D. O'Malley, MD, authored a book called The Damocles' Syndrome in which they described the long-term, persistent fear that survivors of childhood cancer feel, ever wondering when their cancer might return and kill them.

In Damocles' Wife, Shelly Francis offers her own viewpoint of how cancer caregivers are perhaps even more aware of that Sword of Damocles' hanging over the head of their loved one and what the threat of cancer recurrence means for their own unknown future. Here is an excerpt from Damocles' Wife:

"Only Scott and I knew, as we feasted, that a sharp samurai sword hung in the air over our table, over Scott’s head, his Sword of Damocles. From where I sat, I could see it quite plainly. Is that the caregiver’s curse—to notice that sword on a thread more often, more clearly, than the patient himself? It was time to step out from under that sword."

About the Author

Shelly L. Francis, author of Damocles' WifeShelly L. Francis grew up in Colorado reading fairy tales and stories of strong women, and writing her own, and is glad her first book is one to help others engage their own strengths. She was a delegate to the Lance Armstrong Foundation LIVESTRONG® Summit in 2006, where she pledged to publish this memoir as her personal action plan to raise awareness and effect change around the needs of cancer survivors.

As Damocles’ Wife goes off to the printer in 2012, Wil is graduating high school and going off to college. Scott is traveling around the world, tumor free. And Shelly is packing her proverbial knapsack with fresh music, her camera and journal, art supplies, and dark chocolate, to set off on a new path, “carefree” in a normal sort of way.

“All of us are written upon by the challenges we faced, but with many more unwritten pages ahead,” says Shelly. “We are each living our next book in life—beyond just new chapters.”

You can reach Shelly with questions, comments, or to share your own caregiving and long-term cancer survival stories by sending email to shelly @ CaregiverHope.com.

Read Scott Vickroy's Brain Tumor Success Story