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Pass Me Another Cupcake: The Story Of A Young Woman's Battle With Cancer

28-year-old Stephanie Gilman keeps a blog where she openly discusses her life with breast cancer

By: Daniel Koren/Stephanie Gilman
Published: June 26th, 2013 in News » World
28-year-old Stephanie Gilman

On her twitter (@steph_rebecca) 28-year-old Stephanie Gilman - growing up I knew her as Herzog - describes herself as an 'avid food eater, and the Office Jew @ MTV Canada.'

She also notes that she is 'currently dealing with a bit of cancer and blogging about it.'

A tremendous understatement, Steph was diagnosed with breast cancer last September, months after her marriage to her sweetheart, Jacob Gilman.

An overwhelmingly touchy subject, everybody has their own way of dealing with this kind of news. Some are rather private, some share only with close friends, some remain in denial.

And then there's Stephanie, who, in a bold and incredibly overpowering response, decided to share her story with anyone willing to lend an ear (or, rather, an eye).

A talented wordsmith, Steph began a blog a few months after her diagnosis - Pass Me Another Cupcake ('fighting cancer and eating cupcakes') - originally as a way to keep her friends and family up to date with her treatment. But her story - raw, well written, detailed, heartfelt, honest and indistinguishably human - would make headlines for her ability to reach out to us all.

It wasn't long before the Huffington Post contacted Steph detailing how empowering her story is, asking if they could share it with their viewers.

What makes Stephanie's writing, and her story, so immediate, and relatable, is her candor, her unmistakable sincerity in describing the day-to-day events of her life with cancer. Steph takes this experience that, unfortunately, either directly or indirectly, all of us at one point have, or will have, to deal with, and makes it ok to talk about it. There's no awkwardness, there's no tiptoeing around.

And though she doesn't even know who we are, Steph embraces us all through her writing.

We cry together, we laugh together, we live together.

Pass Me Another Cupcake is ripe with details of Stephanie's battle with breast cancer, as she takes us with her to hospital appointments, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy treatments.

Not to say it's only about cancer. She allows us to accompany her on her more fun-filled outings as well.

Now, Stephanie, according to her most recent post, has just completed 11 of her 25 radiation treatments. She's nothing if not thorough. But also optimistic, and generous, as she has granted us permission to repost one of her blog entires here on Shalom Life.

My dad, My hero (posted on June 15, 2013)


(Steph with her dad)

I have been meaning to write this post for awhile, but it seemed appropriate to wait until Father’s Day to write about my dad. And now that the weekend has arrived, I feel I must stick to my deadline, as any decent writer should.

My dad has been instrumental in helping me navigate through the crazy world of cancer. This is in large part due to the fact that he’s a great father, and I am lucky. But it’s a bit more complicated than just that.

When my dad was a teenager, he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma – a rare type of bone cancer. Even after receiving radiation, the prognosis was not great for 5-year survival. Quite a lot for a young boy and his family to have to deal with.

For those who have met my dad and can do some basic math, I’m sure you’ve figured out that he survived those five years, and then some. And lucky for me, despite the odds, he was able to produce three good-looking, intelligent, witty, and modest young children.

Growing up, I never understood too much about my dad’s cancer, or how it might have affected his life many years after. Although I’m sure it was always a constant presence in his mind, it wasn’t really for us. It was something we knew had been part of his childhood, and that he had conquered, and that was all I really needed to know. Cancer was part of our family’s history, not present. Something occasionally referred to in the odd anecdote.

But five years ago, that changed.

In 2008, my dad was diagnosed with breast cancer. Did you know males can get breast cancer too? Well, now you do.

So as you can see, this breast cancer beast found its way into my family before it decided to take up residence in my own body.

My dad underwent chemotherapy (the same grueling combo that I was so lucky to experience) and surgery. He got sick, he lost his hair. You know how the story goes.

This was a difficult time for my family. As you can imagine, I was scared and confused. I didn’t understand much about cancer at that time, or breast cancer specifically. I didn’t like knowing that my dad was hurting, and that I couldn’t do anything about it. And since parents like to protect their children, there was a lot that they did not share with us. Bits and pieces of information would be communicated, but not everything. My parents always put on a brave face. Everything was going to be okay. Because it had to be okay.

Related articles: Breast Cancer, Pass Me Another Cupcake, Huffington Post, Stephanie Gilman,
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