Monday, February 24, 2020

Meet the Author: Stephanie F. Tumba Author of 100 DATES AND A WEDDING

Born and raised in Paris, France by Congolese parents, Stéphanie Tumba is a London-based international entrepreneur with interests in fashion, leisure, production, publishing, toys and hobbies and property.

Since Stéphanie Tumba’s been a kid, she always had an overflowing Imagination with a slight tendency to hyperactivity. Today, business lady by day and writer by night, she has always read and written songs, poems, or stories sometimes short, sometimes long, sometimes comical, occasionally sarcastic and sometimes dark & suicidal, depending on her mood, the music she has in her mind, the people she met and the amount of alcohol drunk on the day.

She strives to achieve a life that is balanced between her business interests, the projects and causes she is passionate about, and her friends and family.

Recently, we are thrilled to announce that she has released her first novel called 100 Dates and a Wedding and is now available on Amazon and other platforms.



100 Dates & a Wedding recounts Valérie’s love affair in London and shares the lessons she has learned. She tells about her worst experiences and the lessons she learned from them. His disappointments, his joys and his own ambiguities are shared without concession.

But the questions that every woman asks herself are the following: how to manage her love life after a divorce? Or how to handle a breakup after a long relationship? How to believe in love again after being disappointed? And between the rules of English love, the long-awaited text messages, the misunderstood messages, the expected loves, the over-interpreted words and the language barrier, Valérie experienced incomprehension and shock. cultural in all its splendor. And finally, somewhere between appointments, Hello / Goodbye and Shots Ass, Valerie finds love.

100 Dates & a Wedding is a romantic diary that will make you laugh heartily; it is full of raw emotions and a testament to the Garbage culture we live in today. But beware! 100 Dates & a Wedding does not criticize men, he spreads an inspiring message through Valérie’s dates: you have to kiss some frogs before finding Prince Charming!


Amazon U.S. →

Amazon France →

What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?

Well, it is important to mention that the book is inspired by my own experience of dating in London.

When I divorced, I was so compelled by the differences between the dating culture in France and UK that I decided to write a blog relating my experiences on a daily basis.

The blog was in French and I targeting French women willing to move in London. I was helping them discovering more about the dating culture in town.

After a while, sharing my experiences with people around the world, I realized that it was not about the British culture but more about generational changes and that women around the world could also benefit from my experiences. So, I decided to write a book.

Do you have a day job?  What do you do?

Yes, I do have a day job which is less creative than writing. I invest in startups and real estate.

What hours do you write best?

As far as I am concern, I am more productive in the morning. And, I usually start to write around 7 am.

How often do you write?

When, I have a project in mind, 1 to 2 hours every day including weekends.

Are you an avid reader?

I believe, I am. I read 3 to 4 books per month: romance or chick lit, a self-help book, a business book and if I have time something else.

What are you reading now?

The crush by Sandra Brown and Contagious by Jonah Berger.

What are you currently working on?

I have a few projects in the pipeline, the hottest ones are: 1/ the podcast “From Swipes to Spices” and 2/ writing for 2 international media (still confidential) about women lifestyle today and women in finance. So, this year, I have more writing projects than ever which both incorporate my daily job and my passion for writing.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Guest: Knock, knock. Don't be scared, it's me, your writing process by Eva Mackenzie

Eva Mackenzie is an author who enjoys twisty, emotionally engrossing tales. Her debut novel has been a work in progress for over a decade. Under the urging of a loved one, it’s finally finished.
She is a wife and mother living on the east coast. When she isn’t writing, she is spending time with her family, training for her next marathon or reading stacks of suspense novels. Some of her favorite authors are Minka Kent, Dean Koontz, Tami Hoag, and Lisa Jackson.
Her latest book is BURIED IN MY PAST.


Website  →

Goodreads  →

Facebook  →


She’s desperate to stop the panic attacks. But the truth won’t set her free…

Jamie Kendal sees life through the bottom of a bottle. After surviving assault and betrayal, she is forced back to her hometown to care for her mother. Not long after her return, she’s plagued by terrifying slivers of memories from the night her twin brother disappeared forever…

Unearthing new evidence, she’s shocked to learn she’d been found wandering in the woods that same night—covered in blood. More than one person from her past hid the haunting truth that’s bubbling to the surface. The deeper she digs into the horrors from her past, the more she fears almost anyone could be a killer, including Jamie herself.

Can Jamie expose what happened that night, or will she join her missing brother?

Buy Link:

Knock, knock. Don’t be scared, it’s me, your writing process.

By Eva Mackenzie

When I began writing, I did not understand what I was getting myself into. I just assumed that because I liked to tell stories it was enough. That passion would carry me through all the ups and downs of the process. Believe me, I’m not downplaying passion for writing. I’m saying you're going to need a lot to keep up with the rigors of storytelling. The process is long and arduous. It also takes skill, learned and practiced by telling the stories you have.

So, here is a list (not exhaustive) of what I do each time I have a new story.

First, it always begins with the seed of the story. The idea. This can be something as small as ‘why would this person do–this thing?’ Once the seed is planted, I use outlining to bring my story idea into a coherent line of ideas that will be my story plot and character arcs. You need both. I am a hard-core plotter and will write out detailed scene cards for each chapter. The more information the better. Sometimes what I think will happen doesn’t, but the last thing I want to be is a ship at sea with a million different ways to travel, but no clear direction. This happened with my first novel and it took over ten years to finish.

Once I have a working outline, I write the first draft. This is the proverbial sand pile that will later be built into a beautiful castle. But if I don’t outline, I might miss something that will make my story great, so I am all about throwing as much sand (ideas) into the box before I build it up. I cannot edit as I write for this very reason. I would be perpetually improving something that may get thrown out later.

Once I have the story, I like to put it away for a few days/weeks if my schedule allows it. Ideally a month, but with publication deadlines and having all the balls in the air at one time, this is not always possible.

Next I read the story. I try not to make any changes at this stage, of course I always break this rule. Especially because I am reading the first draft on my computer, making small changes is so easy to do. One day I will stop this, but not now.

After my read through, I do rewrites. This is big picture things that brings my story into the second draft phase.
If I use a developmental editor, it will be after the second draft is complete. I will send it off and get a lovely letter back, stating what worked and what didn’t. This is very helpful for me as I write plot driven novels with a treasure map template. So, I need to provide the map to the readers, at the same time not giving everything away. You don’t want your readers scratching their heads at the end saying that made no sense. Yikes.

Then, once I have all my rewrites done in accordance with my editors’ recommendations, I will reread it. I lost track of how many times that’s been, but there are a few more to go. Yes, you will read your own novel a lot!

Then I will polish with line/copy edits. Oh boy, it’s all starting to come together and I am not hunched over my books so no one can accidently reads it…
This is what I label as the third draft. This is my work as pretty as I can get it myself and it takes combing over a ton to get to this point.

Next, I reread, then off to my copy editor.

Once I get the angry red track-changes document, back, I get very excited. I will accept or reject these suggestions and again, reread. Once I am entirely happy with what I have, I send for my proofreads.

I get the proofs back and I reread it. Then I send to my formatter who sends me back a copy, and I reread for the last time… Wow.

This process can be tedious and sometimes I wanted to skim the rereads, but to get your book the best it might be, put the work in.

Thank you for hosting me and happy writing everyone. 

Monday, February 10, 2020

Failure to Protect by Pamela Samuels Young

Failure To Protect
Pamela Samuels Young

Mystery/Legal Thriller

When the classroom is no longer a safe space for her child, the outraged mother of a bullied nine-year-old is determined to seek justice for her daughter. An ambitious school principal, however, is far more concerned about protecting her career than getting to the truth. She flat out denies any knowledge of the bullying and prefers to sweep everything under the rug. But just how low will she go?

When the mother’s two hard-charging female attorneys enter the picture, they face more than an uphill battle. As the case enters the courtroom, the women fight hard to expose the truth. But will a massive coverup hinder their quest for justice?


Chapter 1
 "Please, Uncle Dre, let me stay home with you today. Can you homeschool me? Please!"
 Dre stroked his goatee and laughed. "Unfortunately, I'm not smart enough to homeschool you or anybody else."
 "I'm serious," Bailey pleaded, her face twisted in terror. "Please don't make me go!"
 As his Jeep inched along behind the long line of cars dropping off kids in front of Parker Elementary School, Dre peered over his shoulder at the cute little girl sitting in his back seat. Bailey's stress level was way too high. She'd had a few run-ins with a bully at her old school, but he assumed the transfer to Parker had fixed everything.
 "What's going on? Why don't you want to go to school?"
 Bailey hugged her book bag to her chest as if it were a life raft. "I just don't."
 "C'mon, talk to me. Is somebody bothering you here too?"
 After a long beat, Bailey slowly bobbed her head.
 Dre had purposely used the word bothering, not bullying. He was tired of hearing all the hoopla about bullies. Kids getting picked on was nothing new. It happened in his day and would keep happening until the end of time.
 Truth be told, today's kids were too damn soft. People turned backflips to protect them from the realities of life. Like everybody getting a freakin' trophy just for participating. That was the stupidest crap he'd ever heard. Sometimes life is hard. Kids need to know that sooner rather than later.
 "Please don't tell my mom," Bailey begged, her brown eyes glassy with tears. "She'll fuss at me for not standing up for myself."
 Dre reached back and gave Bailey's foot a playful squeeze. "No, she won't. But you do have to start standing up for yourself. If somebody's being mean to you, you have my permission to be mean right back."
 He wasn't condoning violence, but if another kid started some mess, the only way to show 'em you weren't no punk was to clap back twice as hard. Most bullies were wimps. Once you got in their face, they backed off. That's what he'd taught his son to do and, to his knowledge, Little Dre had never had a problem. He would teach Bailey to do the same.
 "You don't get it," Bailey huffed, her shoulders drooping. "That won't help."
 They were almost at the drop-off point, when Dre steered his Jeep out of the line of cars and made a hasty U-turn in the middle of the street.
 Bailey's upper body sprang forward. "We're going home?"
 "Nope." Dre pulled to a stop along the curb. "I'm walking you inside. I want you to show me who's messing with you."
 Bailey slumped back against the seat, her lips protruding into a pout. "That'll just make it worse."
 Turning off the engine, Dre hopped out and jogged around to open the back door. "Let's go."
 He took Bailey's hand as they stepped into the crosswalk. The closer they got to the school doors, the slower Bailey walked. By the time they reached the entrance, Dre felt like he was tugging a sixty-pound bag of potatoes.
 "Please, Uncle Dre," Bailey whispered, glancing all around. "Please don't make me go!" Her tiny hand clutched two of his fingers.
 Dre led Bailey off to the side, squatted until they were at eye level, and caressed her shoulders.
 "I don't know what's going on, but there's no reason for you to be this stressed out about going to school. If somebody's messing with you, I need to know about it. What's the kid's name?"
 Bailey hung her head as a tear slid down her right cheek. For a second, Dre thought she was about to come clean.
 "It doesn't matter," she mumbled, hoisting her book bag higher on her shoulder.
 "Yes, it—"
 Bailey jerked away from him and dashed inside the school.
 He was about to go after her when a woman stepped in front of him, blocking his path.
 "May I help you, sir?"
 The woman's chin jutted forward like an accusing finger pointing him out in a lineup. "And you are?"
 "I'm Bailey's"—he paused—"uh, I'm Bailey's godfather." He'd started to introduce himself as her uncle to make himself sound more legit but changed his mind.
 "Your name?" Her tone conveyed all the warmth of an icicle.
 "Andre Thomas."
 Dre pegged the woman to be in her early forties. Her thick, black hair fell a couple of inches below her ears in a blunt cut that matched her funky disposition. Her sleeveless, form-fitting, red dress hugged every inch of her curvy frame. Actually, she was kinda hot. Kerry Washington’s classy style with Cookie Lyon's bad attitude.
 "Bailey's mother didn't tell us someone else would be bringing her to school today."
 She looked him up and down like he was some pedophile on the prowl for a new victim.
 Dre couldn't seem to pull his eyes away. Despite an innate seductiveness, the woman still managed to carry herself with the spit-shine polish of a CEO. If professionalism had a smell, she would reek.
 "Erika had an early meeting in Irvine and asked me to drop her off."
 Dre ran a hand over his shaved head. Rarely did anybody—especially a female—make him feel this degree of uneasiness. "I'm sorry. I didn't get your name."
 "I'm the principal. Darcella Freeman."
 He should've guessed. A sister with a little power.
"I'll be dropping Bailey off and picking her up from time to time," Dre said, anxious for the chick to move out of his way so he could go after Bailey. "Erika got a big promotion. Her job's a lot more demanding now."
 "Is that right?"
 "Yep, that's right." What's up with this chick?
 "Please ask Bailey’s mother to email the office authorizing you to pick her up from school."
 Dre nodded. "Will do."
 He still wanted to go inside, but the woman stayed put like a queen guarding the gates of her castle.
 Without saying goodbye, Dre pivoted and headed back across the street. As he opened the door to his Jeep, he made a mental note to have a talk with Erika. She'd been thrilled about getting Bailey into Parker Elementary because of its stellar reputation. But the place might not be any better for Bailey than her old school.
 Dre also couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't quite right. And not just with Bailey.


Award-winning author and attorney Pamela Samuels Young writes mysteries that matter. Dubbed “John Grisham with a sister’s twist” by one reviewer, Pamela’s fast-paced novels often tackle important social issues.

Her most recent legal thriller, Failure to Protect, takes on the bullying epidemic and its devastating aftermath. Pamela won the prestigious NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction for her thriller Anybody’s Daughter, which provides a realistic look inside the world of child sex trafficking. Her courtroom drama Abuse of Discretion centers around a troubling teen sexting case. #Anybody’s Daughter and #Abuse of Discretion are young adult editions of the two books. A young adult version of Failure to Protect goes on sale in December 2019.

Pamela also writes dangerously sassy romantic suspense under the pen name Sassy Sinclair. Her first foray into the romance genre, Unlawful Desires (2017), was awarded Best Erotic Romance by Romance Slam Jam. Her second book, Unlawful Seduction (2018), was honored as a finalist in Romance Writers of America/Passionate Ink’s Passionate Plume contest in the Best Contemporary Erotica category.

The prolific writer is a frequent speaker on the topics of sex trafficking, bullying, online safety, fiction writing, self-empowerment, and pursuing your passion. To invite Pamela to your book club meeting or to read excerpts of her books, visit and .

website & Social links


10 Confessions: Crime Thriller Author Andrew Segal

Welcome to the blog tour for Andrew Segal, author of THE LYME REGIS MURDERS.  Andrew is here to give us his 10 confessions from an author's standpoint. While you're enjoying his 10 confessions, be sure to scroll down and find out how you can purchase his new book!

1.  When I first started dating my wife, Roberta on a whim, I told her that as a once good looking young man, I had earned great money as a gigolo, servicing rich middle aged women, and working from the five star Martinez Hotel in Cannes. I explained that my first client had bought me diamond studded cuff-links and a diamond tie-pin. Later, when I'd gained confidence and moved on, my next regular client gave me a monthly I am a Gigolo, written some time later.
income and bought me an Alpha Romeo Spider. Realising Roberta believed it all, judging by her horrified and fast paling demeanour,  I sought to retract, only to have her insist, no-one could possibly make up a story like that. It took me an hour to convince her it was all a joke. I'd almost ended the relationship before it had begun. It all served as fuel for a short story,

2.  On a business trip, some years ago, and away from home for a couple of nights, I got chatting to a young woman in the hotel bar. When she asked what I did for a living, as a joke, I told her I was a bank robber. Seeing her eyes open wide with incredulity, I started to elaborate. I explained that I'd secure employment in the bank I was proposing to rob, get to know their codes, procedures and general protocol from the inside so that when I came to carry out the robbery, whether from the inside (How did they get in?), or else by the more conventional 'guns at the ready,' approach. Oh dear! She believed it all. Neither she nor her husband were particularly impressed, judging by their expressions, when I bumped into them next morning at the hotel's breakfast buffet.

3.  Before the days of satnav, and on my way to a client, I found myself lost in a small village in the county of Essex, East of London. A harmless looking old boy, in a shabby coat, offered to direct me if I'd give him a lift, as he was going my way. So, ignoring the warning bells, not to give lifts to strangers, I let him climb into the car. He chatted away amiably telling me the area had changed a lot. Harmless enough, I thought. Then he said, "I've been away, you know.' That's UK slang for, 'been to prison.' I held my breath. Then he said, "I've been away for ten years." I now started feeling distinctly uncomfortable. Then, leaning towards me confidentially, he whispered, "I done it you know. I done it for the Krays." That would have been the notorious East London twins who ruled the area through torture and murder. Jack the Hat, McVitie had been slaughtered at the aptly named, Blind Beggar Pub in East London by the duo, and I was carrying one of their fixers in my car. That's right, a HITMAN. By now I was freezing with fear, until I told myself the man was hardly going to kill me on the spur of the moment. When I got to a spot I recognized the man obligingly got out of the car, waving ne on with a cheery, "Thanks mate. Drive safely." The incident gave me an idea for a short story, and I am a Contract Killer took shape. Not easy for a gentle soul like me to put myself in that position. One of my readers said the story made her cry. So anyway, not too savage. 

3.  As a boy of about three or four, on holiday with my parents on a beach in Belgium, an older lad asked me if I'd guard a deep hole he'd dug not far from where we were sitting. I agreed to look after it, and then as the lad went off to buy an ice-cream and to my parents amused bewilderment, I started frantically filling in the carefully dug hole. I forget the boy's reaction when he returned. Not too pleased, I'd have thought.

4.  At grammar school Tony Z was one of the brightest in class. He'd read books of literature, science, history, geography, at lightning speed, marking his place by turning over a corner of the page he'd reached. One day, while he wasn't looking, I took one of his marked books and turned over another twenty or so pages in the same way, then watched him trying to puzzle where he was up to. When he looked in my direction, questioningly, I just shrugged sympathetically.

5.  In my teens, and helping out in my father's tiny clothing shop, my then girlfriend came in. Dad was absolutely against that particular relationship, so when I spotted him coming up the road, realising I'd never get her out of the shop in time I hid her behind a changing room curtain in a corner of the store. Dad spent ten minutes chatting, looking over at the corner, mouthing, "Someone in there?" I mouthed back that they were probably shy and would come out to look at themselves in the mirror once dad had gone. Poor dad. I married the girl, and despite pop's opposition they ended up getting on well. We divorced eventually, but remain on excellent terms. Her mixed race background gave me some fuel for my character Tammy Pierre in my book, The Lyme Regis Murders.  

6.  I'm an accountant, specialising in insolvency, a profession that requires you to be both literate and numerate. However, at school I failed Ordinary Level mathematics twice, before passing after I left school, with distinction. 

7.  I failed Ordinary Level economics twice before passing, just touching the pass mark. I ended up getting a degree in the subject. 

8.  At my interview before a panel of three eminent professors for entrance to University, the prestigious London School of Economics, at one stage, in response to one of my more nervous responses, I was called, 'daft.' I must have got something right as I got accepted just the same. 

9.  A friend who was heavily into vodka, and who tended to boast about his capacity for it, was shocked when, at a party, I presented him with an almost full tumbler, whilst weilding a bottle of tonic and asking how much he wanted added in. What he didn't know at first was that the glass held only water. You should have seen the relief on his face when I told him.  

10.  I confess I like writing horror stories. I hope it doesn't say anything too terrible about me. I love my wife, my daughter, my step-granddaughter, am fond of my ex wife, adore our two Abyssinian cats. But still I like writing horror stories. 


A contract killer changed my life

The encounter inspired me to become a Crime Thriller writer.

He was a contract killer, and he was in my car!

I’d been lost, looking for West Thurrock in Essex, and asked a little old man in a shabby coat, on the opposite side of the road, the way. He offered to show me if I gave him a lift, and whilst I make it a rule never to give lifts to anyone I don’t know, I reasoned, he could hardly be a contract killer, could he. Could he? Of course not.

As we drove he casually informed me that he’d, ‘Done it for the Kray’s, mate.’ That would have been the notorious East London gangsters he was referring to, known to kill, or have killed, without conscience.

Once I’d dropped him off and recovered my composure, I realised I was looking at fodder for a short story. What then followed was a raft of short stories, including, ‘I am a Gigolo,’ something I told my wife when I first met her, and which almost ended our relationship before it had begun. That title is now the heading for a book of short stories.

Jokingly, over lunch, I told a fellow professional I’d once been a contract killer, and devised a story. He believed every word, and left me at some pains to disabuse him. That title, I am a Contract Killer, now heads a further collection of short stories.

Writer of scary short stories and full-length novels like The Lyme Regis Murders.
It’s been a fascinating journey… I hope you’ll want to share with me.


Weekly Blog:
AnchorFM Podcast:—Andrew-Segal–Part-1-e4homt/a-aibjav
Podcast Reading:

Can innocence ever be an incentive to murder?

A quiet seaside town is thrown into turmoil. Tammy Pierre, London based private investigator,
accompanied by her sometime lover, Israeli art dealer and martial-arts coach, Dov Jordan, has just been brought close to tears by police photographs shown to her by an hysterical Eleanor Goldcrest, at the home of three innocent toddlers whose brutally murdered bodies have been found on the beach at Lyme Regis.

Wealthy financier, Eric Goldcrest, alarmed that his partner of three years, together with the local police has him nailed as guilty of murdering the children, now retains Tammy to prove his innocence and find the real culprit. But has his involvement in all this been misinterpreted?

In this investigation, with no apparant motive or forensic evidence, Tammy’s skills will be tested to the limit. In a twist that muddies the waters, Eric Goldcrest, laments that he’s simply never made it clear to Tammy about his position in the family and his relationship with the children, all of which have been assumed by the investigation.



Friday, February 7, 2020


By Renee A. Exelbert, PhD

In Chemo Muscles: Lessons Learned from Being a Psycho-Oncologist and Cancer Patient, Exelbert reflects on her experience of confronting her cancer diagnosis, as the doctor becomes the patient.

Exelbert was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 after working as a psychologist in a pediatric cancer center in Long Island, NY. A wife and mother of two young children, she struggled with vulnerability and identity. As a medical professional, she had both challenging and elevating experiences with healthcare professionals. And ultimately, she became a certified personal trainer and bodybuilding figure competitor to regain a sense of control over her body.

With unflinching candor and detail, Exelbert shares her story by pairing it with psychological theory, well-researched coping techniques for patients and families, and guidance to aid healthcare professionals in treating people with greater dignity, understanding, and respect.

“By sharing the inner-most thoughts and emotions she experienced throughout her breast cancer journey, Dr. Exelbert provides validation that “life-altering” doesn’t necessarily condemn a cancer patient to a life that is “less than” it once was. Her dual perspectives as both a patient and a psychologist provide a unique opportunity to merge the raw emotional impact of the diagnosis with clinical training, thereby allowing her to process and understand the experience in a way that is both reassuring and empowering.”
— Jane E. Austin, Ph.D., Professor, William Paterson University

“This is less a book about cancer and the healing effects of exercise and diet as much as it is about the power of resilience; about confronting the unimaginable and what it takes to come out the other side. By allowing the reader into her personal journey, Dr. Exelbert invites us to explore the human dimensions of illness, seamlessly weaving between best psychological practices and the simple needs that we all have as members of the human family. For those of us working in the cancer community – or in any other community for that matter – this book is a must-read. It summons us to remember our humanity – to not hide behind cold clinical jargon and artificial barriers – and reminds us of the power we each possess to not only ease our own fears and pain, but those of our fellow travelers.”
— Arnie Preminger, CEO/Founder, Sunrise Association International summer and year-round programs for children with cancer and their siblings

“In this important and inspiring book, Dr. Exelbert shares her personal and emotional journey through cancer, with the vulnerability of a patient, the expertise of a psycho-oncologist, and with a generosity of heart that makes this book an essential guide for cancer patients, their families and clinicians alike. Lessons gleaned from personal suffering and transformation, combined with valuable knowledge from psychological and medical research, nutrition, and exercise, will undoubtedly leave the reader not only better informed, but empowered with hope and courage amidst the struggle with serious illness.”
— Anthony P. Bossis, Ph.D., Psycho-oncologist, New York University School of Medicine

Amazon →

 Barnes & Noble →


One Breast or Two?
I still had not decided if I was going to have the requisite single
mastectomy, or a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. There were some
studies that showed a miniscule chance of breast cancer spreading to
the other breast. My plastic surgeon had discussed that there would
also be a lack of symmetry between my breasts had I elected to have
the single mastectomy. He commented that they would be “sisters”
rather than “twins.” Two days prior to having surgery, I was sent for
a final scan of my breasts. My right breast was the one that had the
malignancies, however, there was some concern that the cancer might
be present in the left breast. The amount of terror I experienced about
the possibility of having more cancer was beyond measure. It turned
out to be nothing, merely dense breasts. However, my doctor notified
me that from this point forward, I would be checked much more
frequently in the existing breast. The prospect of experiencing more
scares due to dense or cystic breasts was something I could not handle.
I decided then and there that I would opt for the prophylactic bilateral
mastectomy. It was not an easy choice, as I could have kept one breast
and therefore preserved some sense of my existing identity, femininity,
and beauty. I had several people close to me as well as Dr. A, my old
boss from the pediatric cancer center, try to convince me that having the
bilateral mastectomy was a drastic and unnecessary measure. On
the other hand, I had been so freaked out by cancer and the possibility
of future trauma, that I felt it best to minimize any and all risks. When
I arrived for surgery, my surgeon, Dr. M, still had not been notified of
my final decision. She asked me in a perfunctory tone, “One breast or
two?” as this was her common vernacular, and illustrative of surgery
that she routinely performed. I couldn’t help but be struck by the metaphor
to coffee—would I like one lump of sugar or two? Additionally,
Dr. K and Dr. M had asked me if they would be removing a mole that
I had between my breasts, as surgery was the perfect time to get rid
of it. It was not attractive, but it had become a part of me. I told them
that I did not want to lose any more of me than I needed to, and that I
wanted to keep my mole. They both joked with me about how hideous
my mole was going to look with my brand-new boobs. They made me
laugh and brought levity to an agonizing experience. Nonetheless, I
am so glad that I kept my mole. We have been through a lot together.
I spent a few final minutes alone with Billy, who gently touched and
kissed my boobs. He then said “goodbye guys.” We cried and held each
other. His unconditional love and acceptance let me know that no
matter how this surgery altered my body, he would always love me and
find me beautiful. And with that, I was wheeled into surgery.
As the anesthesia was administered and I was lying down, terrified
for how this next chapter of my life was about to unfold, Dr. M held
my hand and supported me. It was such a small gesture, but meant the
world to me.

Renee A. Exelbert, Ph.D., CFT, is both a licensed psychologist and certified personal trainer. She is the Founding Director of The Metamorphosis Center for Psychological and Physical Change, where she integrates psychotherapy and exercise with a focus on the mind/body connection. She maintains a private practice in New York City, Manhasset and Nyack, New York for the treatment of children, adolescents, adults and families. Dr. Exelbert is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Applied Psychology at the New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development where she teaches Masters-level psychology courses. She previously served as Staff Psychologist at the Winthrop University Hospital Cancer Center for Kids, working with children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer.




Renee A. Exelbert is giving away an autographed copy of CHEMO MUSCLES!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one autographed paperback
  • This giveaway ends midnight February 28.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on March 1.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway