FAIRFIELD — A Spanish class writing assignment was the impetus for Christina Baird penning her memoir, “How Far Will I Run.”
Dr. Kevin Ryan, a military physician and Georgetown University graduate, was inspired to write “When Tumor is the Rumor and Cancer is the Answer” when he couldn’t find a comprehensive guide on cancer.
Baird, a Vacaville resident who serves on the city’s Community Services Commission, writes about her tumultuous journey to adulthood. Abuse and neglect are some of her earliest memories. When she was a teen, her mother turned her over to authorities, saying she couldn’t handle her daughter.
At 16, she was an emancipated minor.
“I am a survivor,” Baird said. She triumphed because she chose to let go of the stories from her past, to rewrite the script, she said.
“My story got old and tired,” Baird said. “My story didn’t work anymore.”
In her 20s, Baird said she ran through life, working two and three jobs and partying with friends. Then, she got picked up for driving under the influence. That slowed her down.
Baird got married. That didn’t work. She filed for divorce and attended nondenominational spiritual training.
“I am still growing daily,” she said.
She spent three years writing the book, opting not to focus on just the negative parts.
The owner of two public relations and marketing companies, Baird believes in giving back. She is president of the Vacaville Optimist Club and volunteers with the Solano County Office of Education’s Career Technical Educational high school program.
Another of Baird’s passions is working with local chambers of commerce. This summer, she won the K.I. Jones Award from the Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce and has served as a chamber ambassador for more than three years.
She has ideas for two more books. First, she’s riding the wave of “How Far Will I Run.”
“This book is bigger than me. It has its own identity,” Baird said.
Ryan, of Fairfield, also spent about three years writing his book. Dr. Maurie Markman, the national director of medical oncology at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, wrote the foreword.
Cancer brings on a lot of anxiety, said Ryan, a former Daily Republic columnist. The book’s goal is to make patients active in their treatment, at home and in the exam room.
“Cancer patients and their families can lower anxiety by being informed and comfortable voicing concerns,” he said. “Autonomy in the examination room leads to better collaboration with the entire team of cancer practitioners and, ultimately, treatment.”
An oncologist, Ryan said those in his profession “box with God,” sometimes winning a round or two. Oncology nurses are “angels,” he said.
Ryan ends the book with stories about cancer patients he treated during his career. He calls them “the heroes,” saying he’s seen more of them than one can find in an Audie Murphy movie. Murphy was the most decorated veteran of World War II.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 13 million people worldwide learn they have cancer. Many of them will be bombarded with disinformation, Ryan said.
Discussing their diagnosis with their doctor is the best way to avoid that. Ryan encourages cancer patients to take a tape recorder and/or spokesperson along to doctor appointments.
“It’s so important the patient understand what’s being said,” Ryan said.
The physician needs to open up the patient and let them know there’s hope.
Both books can be found at www.amazon.com.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.