Susan Bracken’s life challenge brought out her very best

Retirement in Barrie brought challenges Susan Bracken could never have anticipated. When Susan’s husband (a lifelong non-smoker) was diagnosed with lung cancer, the couple was shattered. She committed herself to his end-of-life journey and recounts two years of horrific suffering, pain, and helplessness. An end of life that nobody should experience. Her husband was 69 when he died.

Two months after his death, Susan herself was diagnosed with lung cancer. She embarked on an aggressive treatment program, fear-filled that her end of life journey would be as horrible as her husband’s. She decided that she would rather die than experience her husband’s journey. She began looking for an assisted death, found the support group, Dying With Dignity and got a lot of support.

“Knowing I could control my death gave me strength,” she says. “Even though my lung cancer had spread and they said I had a 5% chance of surviving, I did. I’m cancer free and healthy today.”

Now fast forward to my column on David Edwards of David’s Books (Column 524, Sept 17, 2009). Susan read the column and contacted David. A professional editor of technical material, reference and non fiction books, she decided to write a novel with her cancer experience as its core. “I was at it 8 to 9 hours a day and it all came pouring out. I made the digital files and did everything.” Book done, she began to look for a publisher.

The self-publishing industry is a minefield of contracts and rules, and David Edwards was the light in Sue Bracken’s tunnel of work. He got her ISBN number and her bar code, he is able to direct her to a print-on-demand company, he was her first cheering section as the book moved from manuscript to print.

A Courageous Battle is Susan’s novel. Now that it’s available through Amazon (and hopefully Chapters) she is hoping to use any revenue to help the Dying With Dignity program. A Courageous Battle can also be downloaded as an ebook (

Using internet research skills, Susan is busy marketing her book. She’s tackling the public speaking circuit and has identified CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons), and Zoomer Magazine as well as trade show booths and conference. She’s got a book signing in September at Chapters and has been invited to speak in October at the international Dying With Dignity Conference.

She’s contacting libraries, national groups, book stores. She describes her book as a novel that deals heavily with a woman’s desire to die and the conflict that it causes between her daughter and her doctor. Susan says that one of her reviewers said she’d harnessed the romance novel genre to confront the reader with disease and demise and decision… pro-activity rather than re-activity.

Today, Susan feels more alive than ever. She was 61 when diagnosed with lung cancer. Today, as she faces 70, it’s not such a disaster. She’s embracing good health and the power that comes with decision. And, she’s got a whole new reason to keep going.

Thanks, David, for getting Susan the preliminary help she needed.

Thanks, Susan, for taking this disaster and finding the opportunity it presented.