Tragedy gives author strength
Death of his partner from breast cancer helped Alan Simons through his own cancer battle
Forest Hill author Alan Simons’ first book is a memoir about his relationship with a woman who was terminally ill will breast cancer.
But Simons says the book, 18 Months: A Love Story Interrupted, is not about death, but instead is a love story about life, told from a man’s perspective.
“It’s a story that shows the trials and tribulations, be it humour, sadness, frustration or anger,” he said.
In 1995, he began a relationship with a woman who was terminally ill. Simons said she was upfront and asked him early on if he wanted to be with a woman who had breast cancer and had one breast removed. He said he wouldn’t leave her.
The relationship lasted 18 months before she died in 1996.
Later that year he went to live in Amsterdam where he was diagnosed with cancer. He said he entered chemotherapy with a positive attitude because of his experiences with his partner.
“It gave me spirit and immense amount of strength that I don’t think I had,” he said.
He recovered and came back to Toronto in 2006. He decided to share the story of his relationship.
Simons produced a manuscript and after several revisions, he was able to find publisher for his memoir. Ten percent of the book’s proceeds to PYNK, a program at Sunnybrook for Women with breast cancer.
The book was published in February and Simons has been giving readings from his memoir and talks about his experience. He said he enjoys ending with a question period but says people seldom ask questions, instead they stand up to share their experiences.
Simons now runs an international news blog and is in the process of writing a novel and a children’s book, lessons in which are inspired by his experiences.
From his first book, he said he wants nothing more than to know that people read it. And if it makes them reflect on their life or lets them talk about their own experiences more, he said he would feel that he achieved something.
“All I’m trying to do is simply speak on behalf of those individuals who don’t have a voice or can’t express themselves,” Simons said.
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