Home > Observations > Working with Words: Publishing Brenda’s “But If Not”

Working with Words: Publishing Brenda’s “But If Not”


fullsizeoutput_7f04What it was like to work on Brenda’s “But If Not” book – the journal of her 588 days living with cancer? That is a question a few brave friends have gently asked me over the past months. Here is my answer today..

It was hard handling her words, reading her inmost thoughts while facing the ultimate challenge – death. Hard also because I know how the story ends. Hard because I remember those days and they are precious memories for us – days I would never regret.

Other pages cause me to laugh out loud. Brenda is very funny at times while recounting her experiences with cancer and openly sharing the feelings she experienced. The sweet story about the Jack Russell terrier that followed us home on a walk, her struggling getting words mixed up, and the funny interactions with her boys and grand kids are hilarious at points. She never really lost her ability to make us smile and laugh.

I’m also moved by the friendships that are obvious throughout the book. Brenda has friends literally around the world. Not fleeting friends, or Facebook friends. I’m talking about friends who walk life with you, and most notably her Palm Springs Prayer Group. Readers will glean a great deal about how to be a real friend though Brenda’s story.

For me, recounting the first eleven days was difficult. I am so grateful for our family during those days of tests and more tests until the lung cancer diagnosis was given. We were a close family back then, and we are even closer today because of Brenda’s faith and leading us well in this incredible journey. The last section of the book called the epilogue was written by our adult children.  That particular section caused many tears on my part as I ‘listened’ to them share their individual perspectives on “Mom”. They sure love her.

When we received the first copy of the published book Jason asked me what it was like to hold it. I replied, “Good. It feels good.” We pray that readers will love the insightful, courageous faith filled words of “But If Not” and that these words will encourage others to live life with generous intentionality.

Categories: Observations
  1. Vicki Elsdon
    December 30, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    Hi Carson,

    Bob and I caught your interview. We were so saddened to hear of Brenda’s passing!!
    You are so correct to say that Brenda always put a smile on one’s face. For the years that you both were with Arrow and were our office “neighbours” upstairs I always loved bumping into to her in the parking lot or office and catching up on how things were and how the boys were doing. I always walked away with a smile on my face sometimes even giggling.

    As I read a great deal of the posts I cried for your family as I lost my mother on April 12, 2012 to the exact same cancer. I know the highs, lows and love that went on during your 588 days!!

    Brenda and my mother had the same love of family and friends. Even while my mother was suffering she was busy contacting friends who weren’t well or were suffering with illness’ to check on them and give them strength. We were able to fulfill her wish to stay at home and as hard as it was sometimes for my father he is so grateful that he was able to make her last wish come true.

    We both send our sincerest condolences to you, Carson and the whole family. When I first met your sons they were shorter than my 5′ height. I look at them now and it is hard to believe they are grown men with families. Those are precious memories for you I am sure.

    Vicki & Bob Elsdon

  2. Heather Longe
    December 20, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Hello Carson,
    I flipped the channel to 100 Huntley Street this morning and watched the last part of your interview there. I recognized you despite only have known you briefly during that short 9 months while at BLTS in Calgary. I was sorry to hear of Brenda’s passing but it seems God has different plans for her life and and how she lived it those last days than the enemy had. Many blessings will come through this tool, many more lives touched and everlasting hope for people who find themselves living this reality. God bless you and your family in your transparency and vulnerability through this endeavour. As a nurse I feel a special blessing every time I get to care for an individual and their family as they transition into permanent residency in the spiritual realm. I hope to read the words she penned in the near future. Love in Christ, our Hope, Heather (McLaren) Longe

  3. December 2, 2016 at 7:24 am

    Carson,
    You are a hero to me. Many times I have wanted to talk with you but don’t know what words to use. Thank you for you.

    Gene and Amanda Brooks
    SIM USA Appointees as
    Church Ministries Coordinator to
    Liberia, West Africa
    Phone: (252) 343-0107
    Skype: geneamandabrooks
    Join our Team: Pray – Give
    http://brooksinliberia.com
    http://simusa.org
    [SIM-logo]

  4. craig & linda trask
    November 30, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Hi, Carson:

    We received our copies of Brenda’s book yesterday! I’ll look forward to reading it (although it will be painful) and sharing the book with others.

    God bless you and your family,

    Linda and Craig

  5. Carol Reed
    November 30, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Carson, where can I buy this book.

  6. Al Hart
    November 30, 2016 at 10:13 am

    It was almost 30 years ago that I met Brenda in person though I had known of her for longer. I look forward to reading this journal with interest because of the immense impact she had on so many others who knew her far better than I. May it give me a perspective on cancer, joy and sorrow and how to walk with the Lord through the deepest valleys of life.

  7. Anne Lang
    November 30, 2016 at 8:48 am

    I loved your post, Carson. How hard it must have been, to read her words and thoughts over again. It would bring back so many memories. I know it does for me, wonderful memories which bring tears, and sometimes smiles. Love, Mom

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  8. Linda Milke
    November 30, 2016 at 7:56 am

    How I wish that I could have known her, Carson. Beautifully written by you. A friend has already ordered the book so that we can read it.

    Linda Milke

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