When longtime Salem residents Sandra Beard and her husband, Harry Beard, sold their house on Riverside Drive and moved to Florida in 2000, things didn’t go exactly as planned. Their planned business flopped, they were without health insurance, and Sandra learned she had breast cancer after she’d put off a visit to the doctor for almost a year.Her struggle with cancer was nothing new, but she hopes that her bright outlook and funny take on life might be able to help other women with breast cancer. She wrote a book about her experience called “Laugh When I Cry.”
“Maybe that by me having cancer, my purpose was supposed to be going around and making people laugh instead of crying because of cancer,” Sandra said. Her humor is really down to earth and details her whole experience with breast cancer.
Even when she talks about her old basement on Riverside Drive (they now live travel and live in their RV, staying on Catawba Mountain when in Salem), she remembers how she used to invite her friends over to swim when it really started raining hard, especially in the floods of 1985 and 1992.
Her tone, both in writing and speaking, when she talks about having cancer is just about the same. From a mother deemed a “chatty Kathy” by her children, and from a woman that’s been ”been through everything, you name it,” she’s experienced her fair share of troubles. A few include: a tornado, five hurricanes, being inside a bank during a robbery, and many, many more. Beard wants to share some of her blunt and boisterous humor in the hopes that it might reach out to someone struggling with their fight against cancer.
“If I didn’t laugh at life – not at cancer, because cancer is a cruel, it’s wicked and it’s horrible … I’d crawl in a corner and cry and die,” she said. “I want other women to realize that there is life after cancer.”
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
“Even though I had completed a few college courses, I had not taken ‘Hospital Signs 101.’ … It would have been better if they had labeled the floors. ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road’ as they did for Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I stopped for a moment and began to imagine all the hall ways painted in this manner. Yellow bricks for all patients needing urine lab work, red bricks for patients with blood lab work, and blue bricks for mammograms, the coldest place in the hospital … The nurse gave me one of those gowns that caused ‘butt pneumonia’ – the one with the opening in the back, to put on.”
Beard is also a frequent visitor to the site www.blogforacure.com. It’s pretty much what it says: a blogging site for cancer patients and cancer survivors to share their experiences.