January 23, 2012
Ride, Baby, Ride: Your Courage to Overcome
Ovarian Cancer and Life Adversities
Aviva Publishing New York (2012)
When Leilani Hurles found out she unexpectedly had ovarian cancer, she wasn't going to let that stop her from living. After years of working and raising a family, she was ready to live life to the fullest. Cancer became just another obstacle she was going to prove she could overcome, and as her many friends and family rallied to her support, she turned it into a fun way to connect with and inspire others.
Overwhelmed with people calling to find out how she was, Leilani decided she would send out a weekly email update to everyone to discuss her progress. Her emails were hilarious to her readers, and her courage to overcome cancer inspired not only those who knew her, but soon friends and family were forwarding her emails to people all over the country and her emails were being read at prayer groups and encouraging others battling with cancer.
And soon her legions of fans, who kept telling her she was the next Erma Bombeck, were encouraging her to publish a book. Fortunately, she had saved all those emails, so in "Ride, Baby, Ride!" she offers those emails for a wider range of readers to enjoy, along with some additional commentary and inspiration about her courageous recovery, as well as several humorous cartoons by Sylvia Breece that illustrate various moments in Leilani's colorful journey.
Nor is this Leilani's story alone--she is joined by an unforgettable cast of characters composed of her own real life family--including a live-in father in his nineties she's nicknamed Magoo, and her husband, Bill, whom she sometimes wants to string up with duct-tape, but whom she clearly loves a lot. And then there are the narcissistic birds and enough good looking doctors for a TV sitcom.
I can't tell you how many times I laughed while reading a book whose topic was anything but depressing. It's best to let Leilani speak for herself, so here are just two small tastes of the humor you will find in this book. As you will see, Leilani is anything but shy:
I have had emails on the joke that I pulled on Dr. Bevers in OR....before surgery, when we were all chit-chatting, I handed him an envelope with a note. It said..."Mike, since you had the idea that I should start charging admission to see my who-ha, I am putting you in charge of ticket sales. Please charge the janitor double." There were also tickets made up which said, "Admit one to showing of Leilani's who-ha. $1.00 each." I believe he told me that he collected $20.00. So add twenty more who-ha viewers to my registry.
So I am opening with a Magoo moment. Dad decides to take a shower. He always announces his intentions because I need to make sure he gets in and out safely. It's part of our system. However, coming to the front door buck-naked while we have guests on our back porch is not part of our system. He opens the door and says he needs some help. This could be anything from "I can't find a bar of soap" to "I fell and there is blood all over the bathroom." Well, it was neither. I followed (without his walker) naked Magoo to his bathroom, and when we got there, he said he couldn't get the sprayer back on the holder! I needed scuba gear. There were two inches of water on the bathroom floor. Everything was drenched...even Lilly (his dachshund) who was stationed behind the bathroom door looking for a snorkel. The toilet bowl looked like a Jacuzzi. The vanity was a small pond. All we needed to do was add fish. Okay...do I look like Stanley Steemer...looking for alpaca poop to scoop? Or do I just need to go get the wet vac? I have renamed his bathroom Lake Magoo. Never install a shower massage in a handicap-equipped shower stall for a ninety-seven year old. Hell, I don't know what was worse...Lake Magoo or naked Magoo. OMG!
Trust me; Leilani will have you laughing on practically every page. Nor is she hiding the pain behind the laughter--instead she openly details the painful and embarrassing moments, but her nature is to laugh at life regardless. I imagine few people have her sense of humor and courage when faced with such a situation, but I also imagine that many people will find a new perspective from which to deal with their own battles, whether they are cancer or other obstacles, while reading this book. If you know someone with cancer, this book will be the perfect gift since we know what they say about how laughter is the best medicine. I think "Ride, Baby, Ride!" will keep people smiling through some of the toughest moments in the battle for good health.
God bless Leilani Hurles for undertaking this battle and sharing her journey. Cancer will never know what hit it!
— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., and author of the award-winning “Narrow Lives”