Bottom Line/HEALTH:Silver linings, you know, it’s awfully hard, and you’re a very positively centered person. Not everybody is so happy. How does the normal person find silver linings, even in a cancer diagnosis?
Hollye Jacobs, R.N.:Let me tell you, I am a happy person now, but when I was in the bottomless pit of chemo despair—not so happy. So I looked for just that tiny sliver of hope to get me from moment to moment. Sometimes that was a cup of ginger tea that would help ease my nausea just a little bit…or it was a hummingbird that was outside my window when I was literally too sick to stand. The thing about silver linings is that they don’t take away anxiety or diarrhea or constipation or sadness. What they do is provide balance, perspective and hope to get through the most difficult of circumstances. It’s not in a Pollyanna, oh, everything will be fine if you just look for a silver lining way. It’s not that at all. What that bit of hope does is enables you to get sometimes just from moment to moment. And what I know about silver linings is that they are always there, even in the darkest of times. All you have to do is look for a silver lining, and I promise you, you’ll always find it.
Bottom Line That’s true, and again, throughout the book, you point out the silver linings. You point out the lifeline tips…and you have lists and pragmatic information. It is just beautiful. And if nothing else, the photography—beautiful.
Jacobs:Oh, thank you! The photography was done by my very dear friend, Elizabeth Messina, and the book started as an organic process. She said, “I’m a photographer and I’m your friend, and I don’t know what else to do for you, so I’m going to photograph you throughout this experience to give you the memory, if you ever want it.” She said, “If you never look at these photographs again, that’s OK, but I want to give you the gift of memory from this experience, should you ever want it.” So this was a very organic process, born truly out of a friendship that combined my voice, through my personal experience and my professional experience, and her vision through photography to give everyone a lifeline, and a guide and a companion to help all who are impacted by breast cancer. This is truly the book that I wish I had had when I was going through it, and the reason I’m sharing my story and my silver linings is to try to make it better for those who have to come after me, just as those who made my experience more bearable and more effective. This is how the silver lining came to me.