Choosing to Smile

Three Navigating Cancer members and long time friends have written an inspirational book called Choosing to Smile, a story about how to remain positive when faced with adversity. All three women have had cancer at different points in their lives, and wanted to share their experiences in an effort to inspire others who may be struggling with their own day to day challenges.

The book was written when one friend, Julie Houlker was going through treatment for breast cancer for a second time. Unfortunately, Julie is now in hospice, and one of her wishes is that their book become a best seller. We asked Michelle Rickaby, one of the co-authors, to share their story with our members. Below is a guest blog post from Michelle. Click the link to purchase a copy of the book.

Choosing to Smile

Is anyone able to go through life without facing some type of adversity? We don’t know anyone who hasn’t had some challenges in life. It’s kind of an inevitable part of living. But how do we face adversity when it happens? That varies too. There doesn’t seem to be an easy answer to that either. Some people follow what their family has done whether that means they are bitter and angry or whether they face it head on and do their best to remain positive. But no matter how they deal with adversity it is a fact that you will get more out of living if you can find something to be positive about.

Smiling makes us attractive, it changes our mood, it is contagious, relieves stress, boosts our immune system, lowers our blood pressure, lifts our face and makes us look younger. Are these enough reasons to smile?

choosing to smile book cover

Julie Houlker, Glenda Standeven, and I, Michelle Rickaby, are cancer survivors. We have all gone through many adversities and have met many people who struggle when things don’t go as they planned in life. In April 2009 we decided it was time to tell our stories and write a book. Our book is called “Choosing to Smile” and we had it in our hands on March 5th 2010. Yes, we all have had cancer and have had many challenges in life but even with our project of putting our book together we were amazed at the people who helped us and the generosity of our supporters. This book was necessary to help others with their day to day struggles and to inspire people to look for their best potential. How we deal with life also affects others around us.

Julie has been fighting to keep her cancer at bay but is now losing that fight. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995 and again in 2005. The second diagnosis was metastatic and she was given 18 months to live. But she has outlived that diagnosis and has also made the best out of the time she had. She traveled with her husband, paddled with a dragon boat team, spent quality time with her granddaughter, and has written a book with her three friends. Choosing to Smile was written while Julie was in treatments. Our meetings were scheduled around her treatments. She carried on and is still busy promoting our book.

At this point there are no more treatment options for Julie. She is now living her final days in Hospice. When Julie entered the hospital for the last time she wrote a bucket list. She has been able to accomplish some of the items on her list, like attending a Christmas play with her granddaughter and spending a night in her own home for Christmas. The biggest thing on her list is to be able to see Choosing to Smile on the best seller list. Julie would like to see as many people have the opportunity to read the book to be inspired to see the best in life, no matter what it throws them. Julie is still smiling and inspiring us all.

To read more about Julie’s bucket list visit our website and read Julie’s blog posts. Also join us on the Choosing to Smile Facebook group.



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