Writing my Way Home for Christmas

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Jessica as an angel and Jonathan as a gold-crowned king in a California play 2004 

Help me write my way home to see my children in California.  I haven’t seen Jessica (21) and Jonathan (18) in the 3 years I’ve been teaching English overseas.  After I got divorced from their father (who got everything, including them), I couldn’t find a teaching job in America, so I went to Russia in October, 2010.  After 6 frozen months, I flew to Turkey where I lived and taught for 2.5 years.   I met my Turkish husband there.  After nearly getting arrested for writing about the Turkish freedom protests and posting a photo, I went (with my Turkish husband) to teach English in China just 2 months ago.

In all these ups and downs, I’ve been able to support myself.  But I haven’t bought a much-needed new computer (my old Apple laptop is 9 years old and very slow).  I haven’t taken a real vacation.  And I haven’t been able to afford a trip back to Los Angeles to see my children.

From Sunday, November 3 to Sunday, November 10, all 5 of my books are only $.99 (less than a dollar) for Kindle format.  You can pick from my true cancer survival story, travel adventures, science fiction, and fantasy.  Or you could splurge and pay $9.99 for a paperback.  My books encourage people to survive anything, and they make great Christmas presents.  Light can shine in the darkest places.

Please buy one of my books for a friend, think of me, and share my story.

Thank you.  See my books here.

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Jessica, me, and Jonathan in California in 2010 before I left to teach overseas

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Surviving Breast Cancer

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Lonna Lisa Williams sits inside the cave behind Duden Waterfall in Antalya, Turkey, 2012

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I thought I’d share my own cancer story:

I was nursing my baby when I found a lump in my breast. I told my doctor that I felt achy and tired all the time, and he said it was because I just had a baby and chased after a toddler all day. He thought my breast lump was a clogged milk duct and gave me a mammogram. Nothing strange showed up in the mammogram. But the lump didn’t go away, and I felt like I had the flu all of the time, with low-grade fevers and night sweats.

“Something is wrong,” I told my doctor when I returned, my two children with me. I knew that I was in charge of my body’s health, and I had done research on breast lumps and ways to test them.

“Give me a needle biopsy,” I requested. Jonathan started crying in my arms, and Jessica was running around the examining room.

“Just come back in 6 months,” the impatient doctor responded. “You are young, and it’s probably nothing.”

“No, do it now,” I demanded.

That action saved my life. Two days later my doctor told me I had cancer. Thus began my battle with a rare tumor that sometimes appears in women’s breasts: non-hodgkins lymphoma.

I had to stop nursing abruptly and have surgery. Luckily, I only had a lumpectomy (a lump removed from my breast). I faced four months of chemotherapy, shots, and blood work. I endured strange medical tests like CAT-scans and bone marrow biopsies. My hair fell out. I looked pale, not even eyebrows on my face to soften my vivid blue eyes. My family, friends, and church helped me by watching my children, bringing meals, and babysitting me after my chemotherapy treatments left me nauseated and weak.

I wanted to live for my children and believed that God could help me. I laughed when two boys tossed my blonde wig to each other or people stared when I forgot my wig. I joined a breast cancer support group and wrote two books about my ordeal.

Since those books were published, I have fought other battles like divorce, dependence on prescription medication, and a near-fatal car accident. I had to go overseas to teach English, leaving my children with my ex-husband. After Russia, I lived in Turkey , married a Turkish man, and took a new teaching post in China.  Now I’m trying to write my way back to California to see my children.

Last June, Jonathan graduated from high school. Jessica turned 21. I discovered that cancer was only one battle in my life, 17 years ago, and I’m grateful that the battles–and triumphs–continue.

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Read about my story in my book Crossing the Chemo Room.

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Lonna and her Turkish husband Omer at Duden Waterfall in Turkey

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Lonna with her children Jessica and Jonathan in California, 2010

Weekly Writing Challenge: Favorite Things

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My family had a lot of things once.  In the first half of the Twentieth Century, my grandfather amassed a small American fortune:  a white-pillared Colonial mansion with land, guest houses, and even a river running through.  Stone walls encircled his empire of walnut trees, lawns, and rose gardens—and at the front, a big iron gate.  He employed a cook, maids, and a secretary to help him write his books.  He could walk to the old Southern university where he taught sociology and my mother studied art.

My mother was a spoiled child, the youngest of four daughters.  She took acting lessons and dressed in Antebellum gowns with matching gloves and slippers.  I have an old photo of her, reclining against one white pillar by the beveled-glass-encircled entrance.  A floppy straw hat with veil and flower perched upon her head, her long blonde hair draped her lacy shoulders with puffy sleeves, sashed waist, and big ballooning skirt.  She smiled, as always in those old photos, tilting her face to its best angle, one hand held up to balance her hat.

Her hand was graceful, and a gold chain with bangles dangled from her wrist.

That picture was in black and white, but I know the bracelet was made of gold, for as a child I found it tucked into her jewelry box.  I used to sneak it out and watch it glisten in the sunlight while my mother slept.

A tennis racket, a lucky horseshoe, a telephone, a pair of high-heeled shoes, the cursive letter “L” with crystals, and a tiny pair of sunglasses were among the charms that dangled from the golden chain.

Someday this will be mine, I thought before I set the bracelet back.

That wish would never be.  The bracelet, like the old white manor house, my grandfather, my mother—all were lost.  For me, the American Dream worked backward.

But I have the photograph—a whole box of them—a record in faded ink on shiny paper.  I share them with my daughters, and we paste them into books.

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