“Houston, we have lift off” were the words echoing through my mind when the Perks of Cancer Booth opened in Nashville on August 23rd, officially launching our book into the world! Literally within seconds we were swamped by fans, in a mob-like frenzy, charging at us for a chance to get an autographed copy. I cringed as I saw one elderly lady with a walker being pushed over by a couple of younger cancer survivors. Luckily, Susan shouted to security to help her up before she got trampled by the fans. It was like a scene from an English football match, I tell you. Gone mad, they were! As the last copy was sold, a hush fell over the crowd and then, with what looked like a re-enactment of the Cabbage Patch Kid Frenzy of the early nineties, a roar went up as they tried to snatch books from one another. My panic was rising and I was seriously considering bolting for the nearest exit, when……………. Shawn nudged me and I woke up.
But seriously folks, the launch was a great success, and both Susan and I are simply thrilled with all the great connections and new friends we made in Nashville. I am sure you will be hearing lots more about this adventure in future posts, but for now, I would love to share with you just a few highlights of the trip:
The Fashion Show: Much to my surprise, I was chosen to be one of 12 cancer survivor models at a fashion show on Friday night, modeling really cool and comfy Coldwater Creek clothes. It all started with a make-over, where a whole team worked on me for well over an hour, fussing with my hair and make-up to make me fit for the bright lights of the runway. They really made me feel like a super star! I sat with bated breath, as I watched my co-models being transformed before my very eyes from ordinary women to gorgeous cover girls. I just could not wait to see how I looked! So you can only imagine my horror when they swung me around to see myself in the mirror, and what I saw was a drag queen looking back at me. And I don’t mean one of those really sexy drag queens who throws you for a loop when you hear a man’s voice coming from a woman’s body. Nope. I was a butt ugly drag queen, with spiked hair and the eyebrows of Groucho Marks. If I had opened my mouth to speak, I am sure people would have pointed to me and shouted, “Oh my God, that drag queen sounds just like a real woman!” And mothers would pull away their petrified children whispering, “Don’t stare at him, it’s not polite!” (BTW no offence to drag queens….I wish I looked half as sexy as y’all.) However, when I explained that I did not want to look like an edgy-punk-rocker-model, I wanted to look like a middle-aged-cancer-survivor-model, they fixed me up right pretty. As a PERK, I got to keep one of the outfits I modeled. (Thanks Melanie and the folks from Coldwater Creek for the opportunity, it was awesome!)
Dana’s Song: My friend Dana Blackwood Cox is a phenomenal woman, who is not just surviving with cancer, she is sur-Thriving! Although she is living with metastatic breast cancer, she continues to inspire others through her music and her winning attitude. At the convention, she had the opportunity to sing her song “No Time for You” on stage and she rocked the friggin’ house! I am so proud to call her my friend. Dana hooked up with a big time songwriter in Nashville (FYI…he co-wrote the Dirty Dancing song “She’s Like The Wind” with THE Patrick Swayze. How cool is THAT?). So remember that name, folks: Dana Blackwood Cox, cause y’all just might be seeing her on stage at the Grand Ole Opry some day! A big Newfie thank you to the organizers, especially Karyn, Judy and Melanie who helped to make Dana’s dream come true. You ladies rock!
Grand Ole Opry: No trip to Nashville would be complete without a visit to the Grand Ole Opry, and what an experience that was! I just cannot put into words the feeling that came over me as I sat so close to the stage where every major country super star has made an appearance. We had pre-purchased our tickets to see Martina McBride, and I was expecting a “Martina McBride concert.” However what we got was not a concert, but the full Opry experience: a star lined show with performances by legendary singers, like Ricky Skaggs (A Simple Life), John Conlee (Rose Colored Glasses) and Jeannie Seely (Ode to Billy Joe), just to name a few. A lot of them were Golden Oldies, I will admit (so old in fact that it prompted Shawn to say, “Jeeze, next they will be wheeling them out in coffins to perform!”). But there was nothing “old” about Martina McBride. Her music is so touching. There was not a dry eye in the place, least of all mine, when she sang, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”, which is an anthem for many women cancer survivors.
So there you have it y’all, lots of laughs and loads of great memories. I am actually writing this post while sitting on a Greyhound bus en route to Memphis where I will finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief and just have some fun after working so hard at my book launch. So stay tuned for the sequel to this post when I share with you my experiences in Memphis…..a post which I will likely title, “The Hangover”.