As the saying goes, when life hands you lemons make lemonade. When a woman from southwest Minnesota was faced with fighting breast cancer, she and her daughter turned the bad situation into learning and giving opportunity. Nancy Naeve Brown has more on her story that she's now put down on paper.
Yvette VanDerBrink from Hardwick, Minnesota found out in December 2007 she had breast cancer. Her oncologist Dr. David Elson with Avera medical group oncology says Yvette had a small tumor but an aggressive cancer.
Avera Oncologist Dr. Elson says, "She is doing great. We've been following her ever since and there has been so evidence of relapse. With the triple negative tumors it's fast growing."
Yvette's journey back to wellness would include a year filled with extremely strong chemo therapy, followed by radiation and unfortunately complication after complication. The treatment practically knocked her off her feet but she wouldn't let her take it down. Like all cancer patients, the disease doesn't just affect the person fighting it.
Yvette says, "It's hard for mom and dad and grandma and grandpa to explain what's going on with them in a kid friendly language because the first thing they hear is "cancer" and that means you're going to die. It isn't."
To prove it this business owner, wife and mother of two decided to turn this trying time into something positive.
Yvette says, "When I was doing treatments they had different books. I went to the book stores but there were no kid books. The ones that were there were really depressing and didn't explain things well. I'm a "humor solves everything" for me kind of person. That's how I've always been. I was visiting my niece at my brother's house and she kept looking at my bald head and I said Madison do I look like a turtle? She said yes.
And the idea for a kid friendly cancer book was hatched. That night Yvette wrote "my mom looks like a turtle." It uses humor to help parents and caregivers talk with their children about cancer in a way they can understand. Her daughter Emily who was a freshman in high school at illustrated the book. Tate Publishing from Oklahoma picked it up.
Yvette reads from her book, "Sometimes my mom wears scarves, hats or even wigs on her head. One time the wind blew my mom's wig off her head and my dog Diesel caught it and we chased Diesel all over."
A true story that happened on their Minnesota farm that ended in death.....of the wig.
Yvette says, "I got it back and realized it wasn't the wig for me. It was nice but it didn't fit."
Something that is a perfect fit? Yvette is giving a portion of the proceeds from this book to the Avera McKennan Foundation to help other women who are going through breast cancer. What a great combo; a good egg, a good book and a really good cause.
Yvette will be signing books Monday, December 19th from 11 to 1:30 at the Prairie Center.
You can also find the books at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and online at www.mymomlookslifeaturtle.com. The book sells for $10. One dollar from every book sold is going to the Avera McKennan Foundation.