If you had told Gail Rognan three years ago that having cancer would make her a happier person, she would have been the first to laugh at the joke.
Today, her sense of humor is evident in the title of her first book, “I Lost Two Boobs and Gained Two Balls,” for which she will have a book signing 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21 at the Wind and Tide book shop in downtown Oak Harbor.
“The title kept me going,” said Rognan, who said the book describes her personal battle with breast cancer and her journey of spiritual, emotional and physical healing. “It captures me at my core – irreverent, a rebel. I saw the humor in it and I guess you can either see the humor in things or give up.”
Following her cancer diagnosis, Rognan underwent a double mastectomy. She used a combination of traditional medicine, such as the surgery, and alternative therapies, such as Reiki, in her recovery. Writing her book became a large part of her therapy.
“It helped so much to talk about it that I thought ‘what if I write it down and share it in a bigger way?’” she said. But sharing her story wasn’t something that came easily.
“I’m really a private person,” she said. “I knew I had to be honest and raw and not be afraid to make myself vulnerable – that’s where the “balls” came in. I decided ‘I don’t care, I’m gonna do it come what may, I can handle it.’”
Following her diagnosis and surgery, Rognan said she looked for a book that would help her through her ordeal. She couldn’t find one. Now she hopes her book can perhaps help others going through similar situations.
“I really think the book is a guide that can help people through any life challenge. Mine just happened to be cancer,” she said. “How you handle things makes a difference.
“I want people to know that whatever you’re told, you always have time to do research,” she said. “Don’t necessarily take things at face value – get the facts, check out the pros and cons before you make a decision. That’s hard to do when you’re afraid.”
Through her battle, Rognan said she learned that not only is she stronger than she thought, but much more.
“It reawakened the rebel in me, and I’ve learned to love that part of myself,” she said. “But it’s really become empowering. I’ve put myself out there and I’m growing, maturing because of it. I had let my fears control me and I let myself move away from my faith, which is number one.”
The book also brought out her creativity, said Rognan. There are several of what she calls her “soul poems” sprinkled throughout the chapters.
“It’s funny, they just kind of come from the inside out,” she said. “And I don’t even like poetry that much, it just has to come out.”
Today, Rognan takes things on a day by day basis. She said she has healed on a mental, spiritual and emotional level, and the rest of her physical healing is happening. She is still a work in progress.
“I put God first, surrender every day and believe the right thing will happen,” she said. “Life is too short to get sucked down by problems. I just deal with it and move on.”
In addition to writing – she has two more books in the works – Rognan also runs a pet-sitting business, is a certified Reiki practitioner, volunteers with hospice patients and speaks to groups on creating intentional retirement. She shares her home with her dog Brodie.
A second book signing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21 at the Best Western Harbor Plaza in Oak Harbor. Those interested in her book may contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her life is full.
“I’m thankful for cancer. It changed my life. I’m happier than I have ever been,” she said.
Her goal through her book is to try to reach at least one person going through a significant life challenge.
“I want people to know you can come out the other side and life is going to be amazing,” she said.