I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, a beautiful place to grow up and I hold many memories close to my heart.
When I was home on book tour in 2003, I began to hear sad news of my high school friends, who were no longer with us and it was too soon; they were too young.
The long list was due to diagnoses of cancers, neurological diseases, and brain tumors.
When I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2012, I was in complete denial. I was never sick or hospitalized. I wanted to know what to expect, so I dove into research, which I love and do for all of my books even the novels, but by the 20th phone call, I couldn't listen, anymore. It was all so sad...
I believe every single one of us handle hardships differently, so I had to focus on the positive and stop listening to the what might be...however, two women made a huge impact me.
First, a woman called who was a caretaker of someone who was learning how to walk and talk again after brain surgery that did not go well said: "You have to do something. Join the Brain Tumor Society; walk with them raise money and awareness. Do something!"
I did not know "we" had an organization or even a walk...We just had their 12th annual walk in my city, Portland, Oregon in August...
I thanked her for her time and information and hung up. I was so overwhelmed by what I was facing that I could not make any promises...
Six months later, I had surgery and then faced 12 weeks of recovery.
I was one of the lucky ones. I woke up in intensive care almost 5 hours later after brain surgery; talking — a lot — much to the chagrin of my family, who thought they get a break from my ideas and energy. I wanted to know when I could check out like it was a hotel. I did a storyboard for Without WOMEN while waiting the week in Denver for my check up. To drive home to my ski town, back and forth four times over my beloved snowy Rockies at 10,000 feet, was not a good idea for my healing head.
With the support of my family and my long-time BFFs, who flew in to watch over me while I healed, I did heal. They also got a vacation they did not expect. I will let them tell you about that. Thank you to Greg Long, Brit Long, Amy Murphy, Wayne Long, Liz Norword, Mike Hayashi, Art Souverein, Elke Rodas, Michele Fattibene Frye, and Mary Cox — you all are lifesavers.
The second call is the one that put me on this path to make a movie. A woman from Central Pennsylvania called and told me she was dying from brain cancer. Her doctor said to get her affairs in order and say goodbye to her husband and children.
I am crying again as I remember and write this and I never cry, but she told me:
"Please tell the world what happened to us in March 1979. My teacher told us run home. I had a sweatshirt on, so I pulled up the hoodie and ran. It didn't matter, anyhow. We all got sick."
I mailed her a pretty scarf since she told me she was bald now because of all of the chemo. I am making this film for her and her family and all of the others affected.
We keep losing people too soon and too young, especially the children and babies. I had no idea this epidemic of cancer with children existed in my home state. Babies should not die of cancer. Thanks to my right hand and incredible producer in Pennsylvania, Stacey Griffiths, who told me about the statewide efforts of college students, who dance all weekend non-stop for those who can't, they raise money for cancer research: https://thon.org/
Since I began my research in 2015, I've amassed enough information and archival news plus interviews from people, who were there in 1979 during the Three Mile Island nuclear accident to write a book, a feature film, and a documentary movie.
I am writing this blog because
I want you to be healthy
I want you to be happy
I want you to be safe.
And I think you should know what I know now.
In 1979, I don't know anything about radioactive isotopes.
Now I do and you will, too.
My mission is to increase the awareness of the long-term effects of radiation and the necessity to go green now.
My team of 90 + volunteers on the East and West coasts has been standing by me and I thank them for their tenacity and patience. I will thank all of them in another blog because I am at 880 words now and want you to keep reading to the end...you are following a writer of 85,000-word books...
Thank you to Christine Layman and Joe Rodriguez for setting up the Three Mile Island Survivors group on Facebook. With more than 3,200 members since November 2016, they created a safe forum to let people know they are not alone.
Please join us. Together, we are stronger and together we will be heard.
I thank you for also being there to help me get the word out to our friends and neighbors and family and the world. Please subscribe and invite your friends and family too. See the word BLOG on the far right side of our website. www.MELTDOWNthefilm.com
I'll also be posting on Facebook and Twitter when I write a new column.
Grazie! Danke! Gracias! Merci! Domo Arigatogozaimashita! Thank you!
P.S. Yes, here I am in front of the camera. (Sorry, I haven 't made it to any of our Central high school reunions, but I am still short and a brunette. The tall brunette is actor Amber Wilbur who I hope will be available to portray my mother. She did an excellent job at the Table Read of the script.) I must tell you though; I have a renewed respect for actors now. It is tough to walk and talk -- even thought I wrote this script! Most of you who I work with in film know that I prefer to be behind it, directing and producing, but I will do whatever it takes to get the word out to the world about radiation and how to go green now. Please join me in any way you can! I know they say it takes a village...this film will take a state or two or three! PA, CO and OR!