Friday, March 1, 2019

On Becoming a Warrior by Joanne Guidoccio #fearless #mystery #cancersurvivor


There are all kinds of fearless, and Joanne is an amazing kind of fearless. Anyone who stands up to cancer is a warrior.

When Lynda Carter assumed the role of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in the 1970s television series, I made a point of watching each program. Eyes glued to the screen, I waited with anticipation for the inevitable displays of Amazonian power. I especially liked watching Diana fling the magic lasso and use her golden belt and bracelets to deflect bullets.

She was the ultimate warrior, one that I hoped someday to emulate.

Alas, I was the ultimate non-athlete who shied away from athletic challenges and activities. In my workplace and interpersonal relationships, I preferred to adopt a non-confrontational stance that served me well (or appeared to serve me well) for almost five decades.

All that changed on a beautiful Friday morning in mid-May, five months short of my fiftieth birthday.

I can recall almost every detail of that day, even what I was wearing: black capris with a striped, pink blouse that I had purchased the previous week. Within minutes of arriving at a medical building in downtown Guelph, I was greeted by a female surgeon who invited me into her office.

She tried to reassure me as she gave her diagnosis—Stage IIIB breast cancer—but her beautiful smile couldn’t quite reach Arctic blue eyes glistening with tears She mentioned margins and the inability to clear them, skirting around those unspeakable words: The tumor was inoperable.

She then spoke of having chemotherapy first to shrink the tumor, followed by a radical mastectomy and radiation.

Fate—disguised as a cancer diagnosis—had plunked an enormous mountain in front of me. I had no choice but to climb. While I did go through a brief period of anger and bitterness, I didn’t get stuck there. The speed at which everyone and everything moved didn’t allow me to wallow in self-pity or spend too much time lamenting past choices.

I read all the recommended literature, listened carefully to my healthcare team, showed up for all the treatments, and focused primarily on my well-being. It was the first time in my life that I was fully present for each day. As for the future, I don’t recall giving it much thought over the ten months of treatments.

At a luncheon I attended partway through radiation, I overheard one of my colleagues referring to me as a warrior. Bald and scarred, I was taken aback by the moniker but recovered quickly enough to thank him. While I wasn’t wearing a skin-tight superhero costume or flinging a magic lasso, I was surviving and somewhat thriving during the most challenging season of my life.

Postscript: In November of 2019, I will be celebrating 15 years of cancer-free living. 

About the Gilda Greco Mystery Series

A cross between Miss Marple, Jessica Fletcher, and Cher (Moonstruck), protagonist Gilda Greco brings a unique perspective to the amateur female sleuth.

The teacher-turned-lottery winner returns to her hometown, only to find herself embroiled in a series of murder investigations. Before you start imaging thrillers with high stakes and police chases, pause and take a yoga breath. The three novels in the series—A Season for Killing Blondes, Too Many Women in the Room, A Different Kind of Reunion—are cozy mysteries, written in the Agatha Christie tradition. All the crimes take place “off stage” with very few graphic details provided.

While the pace may be more relaxed than that of thrillers and police procedurals, there are no steaming cups of herbal teas, overstuffed chairs, or purring cats in these contemporary cozies. Prepare yourself for interfering relatives who don’t always respect boundaries, adult mean girls, deserving and undeserving men, multiple suspects, and lots of Italian food.

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A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne Guidoccio writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario. 

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio 


  1. How well I remember a similar journey. You captured it all beautifully. Yes not all Warriors wield golden lassos. Congratulations!

    1. Thanks Charlotte! Those golden lassos serve as a powerful motivator for all of us.

  2. Hi, Joanne! Cancer is just awful. Handsome has had a tough two years from treatment for cancer. Who knew? All of you who have undergone treatment are indeed warriors. ox

  3. Hi Vicki, It's a tough road, one made bearable by the family and friends who support us. Keeping you and Handsome in my prayers.

  4. I’m another survivor going through the journey now. Though lucky enough to be Stage 1. Other warriors before me set the tone for triumph. Thank you.