During 2017's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, She Writes Press published Antoinette Truglio Martin’s touching memoir, Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. It is a 2017 USA Best Book Awards Finalist in Non-Fiction: Narrative and a 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Finalist: Non-Fiction Women's Issues.
In 2007, Antoinette believed her call back doctor appointment was routine, maybe a scare, nothing worse. Her shock at receiving a Stage I breast cancer diagnosis was instantly compounded by her own deep fears. As a self-described wimp—afraid of needles and uncomfortable with sedation—how was she going to get through this?
Antoinette started her fight against cancer with words. She began by journaling and by writing emails to Her Everyone—the large close-knit family and circle of beloved friends wanting to offer their support, especially those who were fighting breast cancer alongside her. The emails not only helped to keep Her Everyone informed, they gave cancer less of a presence in Antoinette’s life, since she wasn’t repeatedly updating people or saying the word “cancer” over and over. The practice of writing calmed her and also gave her space to focus on living: on the house that wasn’t selling, an exciting new job, daughters in college, and summer beach plans. She signed every email with the reminder to “hug everyone you know.”
Those emails and journal entries are at the heart of this memoir, which gives the book an immediacy and raw power.
Hug Everyone You Know is a memoir about how Antoinette found the courage to navigate her first year of breast cancer treatment. It’s the story of how a community—colleagues, family, friends—rallied to support her. The book is moving, brave, informative, and occasionally funny—and it speaks to us all.
Print Length: 325 Pages
Publisher: She Writes Press
Hug Everyone You Know is now available to purchase on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound.
Book Giveaway Contest
To win a copy of the book Hug Everyone You Know by Antoinette Truglio Martin, please enter via Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Giveaway ends on October 14th at 12 AM EST. We will randomly pick a winner and email them the same day. Good luck!
Praise for Hug Everyone You Know
“…a well-written, concise telling of what it’s like to be hit with a cancer diagnosis and the human thoughts that accompany it, like ‘how do I tell the family?’ and ‘what do I tell them?.... In five words: she writes a good story…. Martin’s persona is optimistic; you just want to hang around her and it’s that attitude that got her through. Not surprisingly, gratefulness is part of her mantra. So are hugs.”—The Suffolk County News
“Filled with fresh air, light, and life, Hug Everyone You Know is an intimate conversation with an intelligent, funny survivor. The voice rings true, and the insights resonate well beyond the cancer moment. Highly recommended.”—Joni Rodgers, NYT bestselling author of Bald in the Land of Big Hair
“… a compelling memoir about the importance of community while navigating a life crisis such as cancer. As an oncology nurse and a cancer survivor myself, I found Martin's writing to be a refreshingly real depiction of life as a cancer patient. Her writing is a testimony to the endurance of the human spirit, the importance of love and community, and the need for hope every day of the journey.”—Lee Ambrose, StoryCircle Book Reviews
About the Author Antoinette Truglio Martin
Antoinette Truglio Martin is a life-long Long Islander, teacher, wife, mother, daughter, and friend. She is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer—a memoir chronicling her first year battling breast cancer as a wimpy patient. Personal experience essays and excerpts of her memoir were published in Bridges, Visible Ink, and The Southampton Review. Martin proudly received her MFA in creative writing and literature from Stony Brook/Southampton University in 2016. Antoinette had also written the children's picture book, Famous Seaweed Soup (Albert Whitman and Company), and was a regular columnist for local periodicals Parent Connections (In a Family Way) and Fire Island Tide (Beach Bumming). Her blog, Stories Served Around The Table, tells family tales and life's musings. She lives in her hometown of Sayville, New York with her husband, Matt, and is never far from her “Everyone” and the beaches she loves. Since being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2012, she strives to not let cancer to dictate her life.
---- Interview by Nicole Pyles
WOW: First of all, congratulations on your book Hug Everyone You Know. What inspired you to write this book?
Antoinette: While I was going through the treatments for the Stage I breast cancer I thought I would collect my journal musings and write a memoir. It would not be a sad dirge. Instead, I envisioned a whimsical account of the trials and tribulations of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I did take out my journal and notes about a year after the treatments. The familiar fears and panic attacks returned. There was nothing whimsical. I buried everything and consoled myself that I was the only one who needed to know the story.
Then Stage IV metastatic breast cancer hit. That’s the one that travels and plants itself to organs and bones. It is the killer. There is no cure, just management. When I was diagnosed with MBC, I was beyond scared and speechless. I felt that if I had to leave an early legacy, I wanted my daughters to know the story. As I compiled and began the writing process, I had come to realize that I was not as wimpy as I believed myself to be. The first diagnosis gave me the tools I needed to navigate this MBC. So, I wrote the book to remind me I am brave enough to deal with MBC. I also hoped that others might see merit in my process and garnish hope.
WOW: You are truly an inspiration. Reading how you shared your journey with your "everyone" really touched me. And I loved reading in your book how you reached out to people by email. How did emailing your "everyone" help you communicate better to your loved ones?
Antoinette: I am blessed with a vast circle of friends and family. I had my parents, sisters, cousins- my first best friends, aunts and uncles- second parents, close friends I had known since high school, colleagues with shared families. In each group, I could never be described as the chatty one. Talking about cancer, the protocols, the expectations was painful. I cringed at saying and hearing the words (for almost a month I called it the C-Word as if it were a bad word). I easily cried over the phone. No one wants to hear that! However, My Everyone wanted to know from me, how I really was doing, what was happening, and what to expect. I found that I could compose emails, chronicling, complaining and casting a story around the news. This was so much easier than stumbling with spoken words, listening to well-meaning advice, and sobbing. I took the words from my journal and wrote the emails to My Everyone. This allowed me to not have to hear the words, bear through the repetition and just be done. The bonus was the responses. When a loved one is going through a crisis, it is very hard for people to listen and figure out what to say on the spot. Giving My Everyone time to respond with a thoughtful phrase, sweet sentiment or silly emoji was all I needed and wanted.
"I could wear out my fears and hopes on the page, close the notebook, then get on with my day. Being part of the day was and is still key. Every day is a gift. I strive not to waste one."
WOW: That is so moving that you found a way to speak to your "everyone" in a way that helped you and helped them! How did journaling help you throughout your treatment?
Antoinette: I have always journaled. After all, I still want to be a writer when I grow up. Journaling has always given me a voice. I can practice the vocabulary and the sequence with the written word. I have come to learn that this is a well-known perk when journaling. But I am a poor self-help reader, so I thought I stumbled on the revelations by myself.
Journaling is my substitute therapist. It is more articulate than going to a therapist and always provides a path to solid solutions. While going through breast cancer treatments, I was able to rant, rage, question, and allow myself all of the outrageous thoughts and scenarios. I could wear out my fears and hopes on the page, close the notebook, then get on with my day. Being part of the day was and is still key. Every day is a gift. I strive not to waste one.
WOW: That is a fantastic reminder to us all about the power of journaling! You really drew me in your journey and I felt like I was right there with you along the way. How did you decide on the structure for your memoir?
Antoinette: To tell the truth, I am not a fan of memoir. I understand the value of it, but so many of the stories are so one-sided leaving more questions and skeptical conclusions. If I had to write the story as a memoir, I wanted to include authentic voices. The emails had to be the voices. This gave me the opportunity to develop characters more fully and move the story along. I had to cull through repetitive notes and responses. It is a different path for memoir, but I think it worked well and created a compelling story.
WOW: The path you took for this memoir was the right one - it's an incredible book! What tips can you share with writers working on a memoir?
Antoinette: Find a writing community. It could be a community of two but must be more than one (you). It cannot be someone who loves you and everything you do (your mom) nor those who find detailed faults (you know who those people are). Sharing a writer’s journey with a fellow writer can provide subjective feedback, hear where there needs more clarification, less narrative—all those little pieces that sharpen the story.
If you have an opportunity, go to a workshop or a conference. I always learn something new. It is also a great way to meet writers and others in the publishing business. Look in your local library or adult education classes. Check out on-line options (WOW has a wonderful list of online courses).
Read memoirs that feature the subject you plan to write about. Note the tone and pace. It may give you an idea as to how to structure your story.
WOW: Thank you for those tips! So, what are you working on now?
Antoinette: I am writing a regular blog, Stories Served Around The Table where family stories are retold and life’s musings are revealed. I love listening and retelling adventures and antics from family and friends while we share a meal. I am writing a historical fictionalized account of one of these stories my grandmother had repeated when she was a child growing up as a Sicilian immigrant in the Lower East Side tenements of New York City. The year is 1911. My audience is middle-grade readers. I feel that the one-hundred-year-old history of bigotry and oppression is repeating itself today. America has always promised a dream of a better life for people who had the bad luck to be born into poverty, political unrest, and violence. America was built on the backs of those who believed the dream, risked everything, and fit in by compromising their values. Children should know the history. I love the research. There are so many rabbit holes I have fallen into while investigating the time, living and work conditions, the education of girls, and family life. I may have to write a series!
"I have been told that cancer I have now is supposed to be forever. I will be in treatment until my dying day. I am not buying it. I truly believe a cure will be found in my lifetime."
WOW: That sounds like a rewarding project! Any lasting messages you want to share with WOW's readers?
Antoinette: I have been told that cancer I have now is supposed to be forever. I will be in treatment until my dying day. I am not buying it. I truly believe a cure will be found in my lifetime. Such incredible strides have been realized in just the past ten years. Research and science are so close. I may be walking around with a time bomb, but I have not been given a specific expiration date. The treatment has not been too invasive nor debilitating. I have been fortunate. More importantly, I am reaping the benefits of the sisters who have come before me, endured clinical trials, and lived and died through the unknown. It does not come cheap.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, which is all well and good for early detection and support services. Millions of dollars are raised to keep women in the pink. Unbelievably, metastatic breast cancer is given one day, October 13th, to shout out for funds dedicated to the cure. MBC is not pretty in pink. It robs more than hair. It is the cancer that seeks to destroy the body, invades families, and eventually kills. I would like to ask readers to be sure their donations go towards the research and science efforts in kicking MBC out of our life stories.
WOW: Thank you so much for your final thoughts! We wish you the best throughout the tour!
--- Blog Tour Dates
October 7th @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Join us as we celebrate the launch the blog tour for author Antoinette Truglio Martin's book Hug Everyone You Know. Read an interview with the author and win a copy of the book.
October 8th @ 12 Books
Visit Louise's blog today to read her thoughts about Antoinette Truglio Martin's book Hug Everyone You Know.
October 9th @ The Frugalista Mom
Stop by Rozelyn's blog where you can read her review of Antoinette Truglio Martin's book Hug Everyone You Know and enter to win a copy for yourself!
October 10th @ Choices
Visit Madeline's blog where you can read Antoinette Truglio Martin's guest post on how writing can calm your nerves.
October 13th @ Dunning Knicks Interviews
Make sure you visit Mzz Dunning's blog today where you can read a guest post written by Antoinette Truglio Martin about 5 reasons it's okay to not be okay. You can also enter to win an ebook copy of the book!
October 14th @ Bookshine and Readbows
Make sure you visit Steph's blog and read her interview with author Antoinette Truglio Martin. You don't want to miss it!
October 15th @ The Burgeoning Bookshelf
You'll want to stuff your bookshelf today when you visit Veronica Joy's blog and read her review of Antoinette Truglio Martin's book Hug Everyone You Know.
October 17th @ Reading Whale
Visit Caitlin's blog today where you can read Antoinette Truglio Martin's guest post that will give you 5 tips for starting your memoir.
October 18th @ The Burgeoning Bookshelf
Stop by Veronica's blog again where you can read Antoinette Truglio Martin's guest post about how to help people help you. Don't miss this important guest post!
October 19th @ Bookworm Blog
Stop by Anjanette's bookworm blog and read Antoinette Truglio Martin's guest post featuring 5 tips for writing your memoir. Don't miss it!
October 20th @ Rachael's Thoughts
Visit Rachel's thoughts today where you can read her review of Antoinette Truglio Martin's book Hug Everyone You Know.
October 21st @ Writing Through Life
Visit Amber's blog and read Antoinette Truglio Martin's guest post featuring 5 journaling tips when going through difficult trials. You can also read Amber's review of Antoinette Truglio Martin's book Hug Everyone You Know.
October 22nd @ Karen Brown Tyson's Blog
Get inspired today at Karen's blog where you can read Antoinette Truglio Martin's guest post about 5 lessons she learned writing about her cancer journey.
October 23rd @ Thoughts in Progress
Be sure to stop by Mason Canyon's blog where you can read an interview with the author Antoinette Truglio Martin.
October 24th @ Bookworm Blog
Visit Anjanette's bookworm blog again where you can view her video vlog review of Antoinette Truglio Martin's book Hug Everyone You Know.
October 25th @ World of My Imagination
Visit Nicole's blog today where you can read her review of Antoinette Truglio Martin's book Hug Everyone You Know.
October 26th @ Keeping it Real
Be sure to visit Lisa's blog today and read author Antoinette Truglio Martin's guest post that is talking about her ways to not let a difficult diagnosis run (or ruin) your life. Plus read Lisa's review of Antoinette Truglio Martin's book Hug Everyone You Know.
October 28th @ Strength 4 Spouses
Stop by Wendi's blog today and read her review of Antoinette Truglio Martin's book Hug Everyone You Know.
October 29th @ Bring On Lemons
Turn lemons into lemonade today by visiting Crystal's blog and read her review of the touching memoir Hug Everyone You Know.
November 1st @ Bookworm Blog
Stop by Anjanette's blog again and read her interview with author Antoinette Truglio Martin.
November 3rd @ Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde
Visit Lindsey's blog today and you can read her review of Antoinette Truglio Martin's book Hug Everyone You Know.
November 4th @ Strength 4 Spouses
Visit Wendi's blog again where you can read Antoinette Truglio Martin's guest post about keeping a positive mindset during a health crisis.
November 5th @ Life Like a Galaxy Girl
Be sure to visit Alanna's blog where you can read her review of Antoinette Truglio Martin's book Hug Everyone You Know.
November 6th @ 12 Books
Stop by Louise's blog again where you can Antoinette Truglio Martin's guest post featuring 5 books to keep you motivated during difficult times.
November 8th @ Author Anthony Avina Blog
Stop by Anthony's blog where you can read his review of Antoinette Truglio Martin's touching book Hug Everyone You Know.
***** BOOK GIVEAWAY *****
To win a copy of the book Hug Everyone You Know by Antoinette Truglio Martin, please enter via Rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends on October 14th at 12 AM EST. We will randomly pick a winner and email them the same day. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway