“I think every doctor who deals with gastrointestinal patients should experience two things: a barium enema and a colonoscopy,” joked author Dennis Maione at the introduction of his storytelling evening on the topic of his new book about the “dreaded c-word.” The event was generously hosted by The Neighbourhood Bookstore & Cafe on Westminster in Winnipeg.
Maione is a two-time cancer survivor, husband and father of three who has transferred his life-changing experiences with the disease into an honest, sardonic and self-deprecating book called, “What I Learned From Cancer.”
Frankly, if Dennis and his wife Debra had listened only to their first doctor’s opinion, upon finding he had cancer as a newlywed at the tender age of 27, he would be wearing a colostomy bag at his side, and would probably not be the father of three children: Emma, who is their first child to marry, Alexander and Noah.
He explains in the book that doctors are sometimes fallible human beings, just like the rest of us. We get second opinions on things we buy every day – why not on opinions about our own body’s health?
Maione tells his story in a straightforward manner in the first part of his narrative, and goes on to supply a plethora of handbook-worthy things he’s learned, including a mock “dialogue with a doctor.”
He raised the initial funds to produce the book through Kickstarter, and has recently returned from a tour across Western Canada, stopping in dozens of bookstores to set up his signature rollup sign, signing pen and pile of books for sale.
Typically, you will see him wearing his fedora hat and a huge grin – practically bursting with stories to tell you.
Not all of his experiences with medical professionals were negative of course, and he goes on to praise the doctors and nurses who treat their patients with human understanding.
He recounts a story about one of his doctors who performed the second radical surgery, who stopped in the hospital hallway to speak with him, placing his hand on his shoulder and saying, “It’s going to be okay.” (see short video)
“I am not my disease, and I will not be treated as though I am,” he declares.
Dennis Maione loves to share and interact about his story with groups of all sizes and genuinely wants to help others prepare for, deal with and care for loved ones who are touched by cancer. His website is called Prompters to Life, offering books, keynote addresses and seminars of “inspiration and hope.”
I found Dennis Maione’s compelling journey, told with a twist of humour and a healthy dose of practical advice, was hard to put down once started.
“What I Learned From Cancer” can be found locally at Chapters, McNally Robinson, The Neighbourhood Bookstore & Cafe, CMU Bookstore, U of M Bookstore (Brodie), Blaine’s Bookstore (McIvor Mall), Saffie’s General Store (Albert Beach), Hull’s Family Bookstore (Steinbach) and from Maione’s website, Prompters to Life and Facebook.