Q&A with Author Christine Egan, "The Healthy Girl's Guide to Breast Cancer"

Christine Egan is a healthy living advocate and author of "The Healthy Girl’s Guide to Breast Cancer." After 33 radiation treatments, she ran a half-marathon and after remission, she ran a full marathon to celebrate. Today she leads the #RedefiningHealthy movement, helping women feel healthy in their bodies now, not after losing 15 pounds, finishing cancer treatments, or quitting their 9-5. We had the pleasure of working with Christine in 2016, helping her to create an audiobook from her written masterpiece. We sat down to talk with her about the process, from writing to recording and all of the wonder and struggle in-between.

SWI (that's us): Let’s start with your story. Tell our readers a bit about your story and how you captured it in writing to publish your first book, ‘The Healthy Girl’s Guide to Breast Cancer,’ which you then turned into an audiobook with us.

CE (that's Christine): I’m a certified health coach and have lived in this healthy, crunchy, granola type world for 25+ years. For places like Asheville, NC, that’s normal but not here in Long Island, New York. Me and my husband, my high school sweetheart, homeschooled our kids, grew our own food and have really been focused in this healthy lifestyle for many years.Then one day totally out of left field I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I underwent a year’s worth of cancer treatments with the idea of how I could best make it work for me instead of doing step by step what works for the masses. I felt as though I was so different than your typical breast cancer patient. I was someone who ran and was eating their greens and even had a private practice helping other people eat healthier. So I kind-of did a mash-up of traditional cancer treatments and alternative cancer treatments and decided what was best for me in order to make the treatments work.

As I was undergoing cancer treatments, I began to share my story through a blog. I would run into town and people wouldn’t even know I was sick because I looked so healthy. So I decided to really keep track of everything and chart my process and progress in a blog with the idea that perhaps it would become a book. Every morning I would venture into the local coffee shop and write and every time I’m writing about a topic I struggled through, I would run into someone who shared a similar hard time. That outside reinforcement really helped me stay focused and write this book because people needed information and inspiration. I did it blindly. My intention was just to have ten copies to hand out to family and friends. Then I thought I’d just continue health coaching. I didn’t anticipate the response to the book and what it’s lead to.

SWI: How have you been able to plug into the health industry with your book? Was your community really helpful or were your blog and social media your largest outlets in helping to share your work?

CE: Everything just fell into place because we’re health conscious and have been active in our community. I also know how to pitch my story in different ways--so how it relates to a mom and how I told my kids that I had cancer or how the relationship between me and my husband changed when I found out I had cancer or the top three things I do every day to ensure I don’t get cancer or keep it from coming back. I tried to remember throughout the process that it’s not about me, it’s about the people who need to hear my story.

SWI: So the idea of creating an audible version of that seems even more personal of a format to share your story in, yes?

CE: When I originally started working with the Spoken Word team, we hadn’t decided if someone else was going to read the book or if I was going to. Kris had me record a section of my book then send it to him. And he said of course you’re going to read it. But there’s a whole story that goes along with reading the book. Because when I wrote the book I was SO tired of reading it that when it actually came out I never read it cover to cover. I read sections at a time before a lecture or if I was recreating something. By the time you get to the end point with the finished product, you have read it a million times, just not start to finish like someone who picks it up in the store will.

So it really did not occur to me until I sat down in front of that microphone what I was about to do. It had been two years since the book was released too. A lot had changed. I’ve come so far and to re-read the details that I gave was really, really difficult. I was reading and choking up and really crying during parts of retelling my story. It was emotional and it was hard. One of the guys was there with me doing the reading with me and we would finish up and he would say, “Wow, I hadn’t thought about that” or “Mmm, I’m really going to incorporate pieces of that into my life” so he was giving me this positive feedback that was so helpful during this process. I have a New York accent too so every time I would say something with a hard ‘R’, I would finish the sentence and he would say, “Okay, let’s re-do that,” with a laugh.

“It was a task that I knew I had to do though and it really reinforced how much I loved what I wrote and how important it is that I share my story.”

SWI: What were some of the most challenging and most rewarding aspects of it, even since you’ve had the finished copy?

CE: What’s nice about having that audio in addition to the printed book? I feel like I’ve covered all the bases now. For people that only do audiobooks, it’s there for you. Part of the other reason I wanted to do it was to breathe new life into the book.I did a whole launch for the audiobook itself. Re-reading the book was really important for me.

SWI: Do you listen to audiobooks, just out of curiosity?

CE: I have. I wouldn’t say I’m a big audiobook person. I listen to podcasts or when we’re going on a long ride, we’ll put an audiobook on in the car.

SWI: Do you have any recommendations for someone considering the process?

CE: I think if you’re serious, you have to do it. It’s like doing the Kindle version. It’s just a no-brainer. If you want to be serious about your book, you need hardcover, softcover, digital and audio. It’s just the world we live in and the options that make your story versatile.

I loved working with the Spoken Word team. We had a really good time together. I was there with my teenage daughter and she had the best time. She was off at yoga for like six hours of the day then downtown at the cafe and at the juice shop. We were at this bed and breakfast with these amazing guests and I was telling them what I was doing recording the audiobook and everyone was just so supportive. Asheville had been on our list for a while to get down there just to visit so it was just such a fun experience overall. We did a lot of self-care, really nourishing things. You didn’t even have to search things out, it was just there because that’s how Asheville is so that was a huge added benefit. It was just such a positive process for me.

Learn more about Christine Egan’s journey by visiting her website at: http://www.redefining-healthy.com