AB: Yesterday, I posted a review of Jan Hasak’s book, Mourning has Broken, her account of the things she went through on the way to surviving breast cancer. She’s joining us and consented to answer a couple of personal questions regarding her life and her book, as if laying her life out in front of readers in her book weren’t enough. A reminder--one lucky person from commenters yesterday and today will win a copy of her book, Mourning Has Broken.
AB: So, Jan, tell us—how and why did you become a Christian?
AB: What made you decide to write a book about breast cancer?
JH: After I was treated for my second bout with breast cancer, including a year-long treatment with a biologic drug, I believed God was prompting me to write a book to comfort others in similar straits. I wanted to let people know how my faith played a critical role in my healing and recovery, not only from cancer, but from a swelling of my arm, called lymphedema, a potential side effect of cancer treatment. So, when I was close to retirement from my career job at Genentech, I started writing the book.
AB: After your book was published, were there some things you wish you'd put into the book?
JH: In the book I wish I had addressed the potential hazards of ingredients in cosmetics that touch our skin (such as parabens and phthalates). I also wish that I had mustered the courage to touch upon intimacy problems associated with cancer treatment. Many with questions about these subjects try in vain to find answers. That's where my blog, "Mourning Has Broken" (www.janhasak.com/blog), and my Facebook page "Jan Hasak" come in. These venues are designed to inform people of the latest studies on breast cancer and lymphedema and about others' blogs on sensitive subjects, and to give my own take on various relevant issues.
AB: Conversely, are there any things you wish you HADN'T put into the book?
JH: Mourning Has Broken did delve into some fairly technical details on the treatment options I underwent. Because so many types of breast cancer exist and my book mostly addresses my own, I wonder if it was appropriate to include it. Yet, the book would be 1000 pages if I had to describe the treatment for every type of breast cancer, and I am not a medical professional in any event. Still, I'm not sure I regret including those details, as they might help some patients who have the same cancer profile as I have.
AB: Did you ever feel that you were laying your insides out there for everyone to see?
JH: Yes, I did feel that I was opening up my life to public scrutiny. Yet I didn't experience remorse over it. People need to know that being diagnosed with breast cancer and lymphedema is not a cakewalk, even though many celebrities who get the disease seem to minimize its impact on their lives. If a book is intended to help others, the author needs to be transparent in the emotions experienced, even when the author is a Christian. Or maybe especially because the author is a Christian.
AB: Have you written any other books? And have you considered writing more?
JH: Yes, I have written The Pebble Path: Returning Home from a Forest of Shadows, which is a fairy-tale-like inspirational allegory of my cancer journey interlaced with poetry. My next foray into writing will likely be fiction, which will present a new challenge, since it is a totally new genre for me.
AB: Wow, thanks, Jan. You are a bundle of energy, and I wish you huge success with Mourning Has Broken, with The Pebble Path, and with all your future books. If they are as well-written as Mourning Has Broken, I predict a block-buster.
JH: Thanks for interviewing me, Anne. God bless.
AB: God bless you, too. Thanks for sharing your time with me today.
If you would like to ask Jan questions of your own, you can contact her through her website, www.janhasak.com, or send her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.