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WRITE: Interview with Yvonne Ortega

Note from Marti: Today I’m posting an interview with Yvonne Ortega, author of Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer (Revell, 2010), a recent review in the READ section of my blog. If breast cancer has touched your life in some way and/or if you have an interest in writing, keep reading. CONTEST: Want to win? Leave a comment before midnight Eastern tonight. I’ll draw one winner who will receive a free copy of Yvonne’s book. I’ll announce the winner early next week.  You share your very personal journey through cancer in this book. What made you decide to have your story published? I began to journal to pour out my emotions in a safe place. I asked God to use my bout with cancer for good in my life and the lives of others, for His honor and glory and for furthering His kingdom here on earth. I never dreamed a book would come from cancer. When I was in the hospital after my second chemotherapy treatment, I wrote a devotion on notebook paper. The nurse read it and wanted to have a copy for everyone on the oncology floor. She and the other patients told me I should write a book. So I kept up the journal and transformed it into a manuscript for publication. Another reason was to let people know it is OK to go through anger, fear and depression. God won’t love us less or disown us because of these emotions. He knows how we feel anyway. So we might as well talk to God about these emotions and allow Him to help us work through them. How did you handle feelings of powerlessness and fear during your journey and keep moving forward? At first I struggled with feelings of powerlessness. I thought I controlled my life and didn’t want to give that up. The funny part is I never did have that control. When I asked God for help in this area, he reminded me of Philippians 4:13: “I can do everything through him who strengthens me” (NIV).  From then on I relied on his strength, not mine, and God proved Himself faithful. After I received my diagnosis, fear almost swallowed me up. Two cousins had died of breast cancer, and I didn’t want to be next. I journaled and prayed about my fear and asked others to pray for me. God honored my honesty and answered our prayers. Fear seemed to dissolve once it was brought in the open and dealt with. You also talk about feeling the freedom to cry in the midst of your circumstances. How were you able to accept that as a part of your journey? The...

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Breast cancer. It’s the diagnosis nobody wants. It’s the diagnosis an estimated 1.3 million women worldwide receive each year. And it’s the diagnosis doctors gave Yvonne Ortega back in 2001. A popular speaker and certified counselor, Yvonne practiced the writer’s version of “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” When life gave her cancer, she wrote a book. In fact, many of the sixty devotionals contained within the pages of Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer were written during her treatment and recovery period. The book’s format makes it a perfect match for battle-weary soldiers facing their own cancer wars. Each devotional contains a “Hope Builder” (a single Scripture verse or brief passage), key verse (quoted in full for easy reference), and one- to two-page devotional that ends with a brief prayer. Since the book moves chronologically through the author’s personal cancer journey, readers will identify with many of the emotions, experiences, and challenges she faces along the way. Yvonne’s performed a great service in the brief yet meaningful format of each piece. Readers can read a little—and gain a lot. The book’s primary strength, however, lies in the transparency the author brings to her subject. Writers—especially those who write from the perspective of faith—often fall prey to the temptation to make ourselves appear godly, righteous, and holier-than-thou. Ms. Ortega’s honesty about her moments of despair and days of doubt both endear her to her readers and add credence to the biblical, practical wisdom she shares. Because of Jesus, there is hope for your journey through breast cancer. Because of Yvonne Ortega, there is an attractive, thoughtful, and personal way to find it. BONUS: Please do as I intend and share this book with a friend or family member who’s traversing the cancer experience. And watch for my interview with Yvonne, coming soon in the “Write” portion of this blog. Most of those who follow Read.Write.Pray know of the passion God’s given me for prayer. Do you know someone facing breast or another form of cancer? Share (first names only, please) in the comments so we can share prayers along with words. I’d appreciate prayers for my friend Sally—first on the...

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