A New Book on Living with Cancer
Camille Scheel has been writing about cancer since 2007 when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. She started using CaringBridge to keep family and friends up-to-date and continued writing about her cancer journey for the next two years. She resumed writing on her CaringBridge site in 2012 when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer with metastases to her bones. Eventually these writings culminated in Camille’s first book, now available – Camp Chemo: Postcards home from metastatic breast cancer.
Camille’s goal with Camp Chemo is to share her story and encourage others with cancer to tell their stories as well, through letters, blogs, or books. She says talking about the issues being faced by those with cancer increases the ability for social change to happen as it shines a light on the need for more focus and research.
Discussing each diagnosis and the differences in each, Camp Chemo was written in real time as Camille underwent treatments including several surgeries, radiation, and of course chemotherapy. “We had to take a class at the clinic before starting chemo and I jokingly referred to it as ‘Camp Chemo’ because I didn’t know anyone and didn’t know what to expect,” Camille said.
The book chronicles living with stage 3 and eventually with metastases. “Stage 3 was about trying to get through and believing when treatment is done, life will be changed, but still recognizable,” Camille said. With Stage 4, she realized how little she knew – thinking it was an immediate death sentence. She soon found out that there are various chemotherapy treatments that she will continue indefinitely. While some are more aggressive and result in difficult side effects, others are easier to manage. Camille shared that there was an evolution of acceptance, and now has a new understanding of how to move forward when circumstances are changing constantly.
Camille also talks about the community that surrounded her when she was diagnosed. There were people who were there to help, including an acquaintance who recommended Angel Foundation to her. Camille brought her daughter to the Winter Retreat, which introduced her to other kids who also had a parent with cancer.
“It helped expose [her] to words around cancer, talk about feelings and learn to ask for what they need.” Now both of Camille’s children have attended programs and events with Angel Foundation including our annual Kids Kamp. Camille says the free events help families who are already dealing with increased expenses and lost income from not being able to work, but also having something planned out for the family is a big help. “When going through this, everything is off kilter and [we] don’t always plan family activities – this makes it easier.”
Camille and her daughter will also be modeling and speaking at Angel & Divas coming up October 1 at A’BULAE in St. Paul. Copies of Camp Chemo: Postcards home from metastatic breast cancer will be for sale at the event with proceeds benefitting Angel Foundation. For more information about the book check out www.campchemo.com.