About the Book

[As in other sections of this website, I’ll be adding content regularly to this page. Please re-visit periodically to stay abreast of the additional information in “About the Book.”  –Thank you, Tom Cooney Jr.]


CANCER: A 9 Year Struggle (The Journey, after a Diagnosis of 4th Stage Cancer) 

(308 pages: hardback, softcover, eBook; released by Infinity Publishing, 5/13/2013)

Essence (taken from the back cover)“Tom and Irene created the best road to travel through 9 years of 4th stage colon cancer treatments including 6 major surgeries, an extraordinary 175 chemotherapies, clinical trials, and many other procedures. With probable life expectancy at 2-5 years initially, Irene chose to undergo aggressive regimens providing optimal outcomes even though side effects would be worse than common protocols. Between treatments, they traveled extensively always urging the medical team to focus on quantity. Tom and Irene, themselves, would concentrate on providing quality. Tom Cooney Jr. takes you along with him as Irene braves the rugged path before her. Travel with Tom and Irene through 9 years of cancer. Accompany them through 6 major surgeries, 175 chemotherapies, and several clinical trials, then witness Irene’s final moments.”


Before I begin, please take a moment to read yet another Brian Brill poem dedicated to the story of Irene and me. He wrote it while reading the book and visiting this website after accepting my challenge to do so. Brian more than surpassed my expectations, as usual, when he crafted “In Angels’ Wings.” There are a few more of Brian’s poems on different pages within this website. Please browse and enjoy Brian’s wonderful verse inspired by his interpretation of passages, dialogue, and “between the lines,” as he turned the pages of Cancer: A 9 Year Struggle.

           In Angels’ Wings

“Good night Irene, good night Irene.”
“Irene, goodnight Irene.”
In slumber hopes you dream of me,
While sleeping so serene.

Fortuitous are my feelings dear,
To have had someone like you.
Though our years we had together,
Were like heaven but so few.

When in the early hours,
On that second summer morn,
You left me for another,
To God you were reborn.

Then in my mind two angels seen,
From heaven did descend.
Your soul they wrapped within their wings
As your time on Earth did end.

No never shall I see my love,
My eyes blinded now with tears.
Thank you dearest, sweet Irene,
For giving me those years.

And when my body I shall need no more,
Be one angel of the two,
To wrap my soul within your wings,
To spend eternity with you………….BB BRILL 9/4/2013


Introductory Comments:

It was the 1st of August, 2012, when I started writing the book, about 40 days after Irene, my loving wife, passed away from colon cancer on June 22, 2012. From an initial 4th stage colon cancer diagnosis (spread to her liver), it eventually encroached across her entire mid-section. The book chronicles from our first meeting in 1999, described in “Our” Introduction, through her death (and beyond), to a “Postscript” when Irene and I have “Conversations.”

You can also discover several more excerpts on this website contained within the “Inside the Book” tab above, or “Read Excerpt” tab (to the right) on this website.

Though I don’t recall much of those 40 days following her death, I do, however, remember everything that happened during the time I was writing. I was finally roused somewhat from my grief and sat down in front of the computer with Irene looking over my shoulder as co-author. It was an emotional undertaking but a therapeutic experience also. I’ll describe that difficult period in the section below, Anatomy of Writing, CANCER: A 9 Year Struggle. I’ll also take you through the editing, proofing, cover design, and finally, to the day when the book became available; I’ll even go beyond the publication date to the design and construction of this website. But to begin, here’s an overview of the Contents to orient you. I’ll pick up the conversation on the other side of it.

Table of Contents 

“Our” Introduction

  1. Chapter One
  2.      Getting to Know Irene—and Me
  3.      My Quirks
  4.      Gateway to her Personality: Irene’s Smile
  6. Chapter Two      
  7.      The Return Trip from Florida
  8.      Officer Irene: Pre-diagnosis
  9.      The 4th Stage Diagnosis: “Call Your Doctor”
  10.      The Battle Begins
  11.      Colon Surgery: Updating Family and Friends
  13. Chapter Three
  14.      Infusion Port Insertion
  15.      Ongoing Chemotherapy and Ongoing Side Effects
  16.      Work Related Schedules: Logistics
  17.      Inside the Fox Chase Infusion Room
  18.      Liver Surgery: Right Lobe Removed
  19.      Home for the Holidays
  20.      Life Goes On: We Hope
  21.      What does the Future Hold?
  23. Chapter Four
  24.      There’s more to Life than Chemo and Surgeries
  25.      Some Time to Travel: Let’s Enjoy
  26.      California Wine Country
  27.      A Short Trip to Vegas
  28.      The Sunshine State
  29.      Remission?
  30.      Bad News: Back to the Infusion Room
  31.      Loyalty and Support: the Men and Women in Blue
  33. Chapter Five
  34.      Wedding Bells
  35.      Wrapping-up 2005; Going into 2006
  36.      2006 New Year: New Problems
  37.      Traveling South
  38.      Here We Go Again: Lung Surgery
  39.      Relocation to Florida
  40.      Is Chemo Working?
  41.      Foot Loose and Fancy Free
  43. Chapter Six
  44.      The Liver Again: Left Lobe this Time
  45.      Immunotherapy: Potential Deliverance?
  46.      Yet Another Setback
  47.      California Wine Country—Again
  48.      Erin Go BraghCead Mille Failte!
  49.      The Struggle Continues
  50.      Another Disappointment
  51.      Huge Intercession
  53. Photographs
  54. Chapter Seven
  55.      Riding the Rails
  56.      Back to Reality
  57.      Irene’s Mom Moves to Bradenton
  58.      Medical History Summary through 2009
  59.      2010: Radio-embolization
  60.      Ireland, Germany and a Volcanic Eruption
  61.      Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN)
  63. Chapter Eight  
  64.      Hospital Admission—Again
  65.      Happy Interlude
  66.      TPN Continued
  67.      TPN Discontinued
  68.      Enteral Feeding Tube
  69. Chapter Nine
  70.      The Continuing Leakage Problem
  71.      Additional Worries: Insurance Search
  72.      Treatment Continued
  73.      A Different Path Ahead          
  75. Chapter Ten
  76.      Clinical Research Unit: First Attempt
  77.      Clinical Research Unit: Second Attempt
  78.      Irene’s Last Day to ever Drive
  79.      Reclusive and Reflecting
  80.      Irene’s Last Appointment at Moffitt CC
  82. Chapter Eleven
  83.      Arranging Hospice
  84.      Irene’s Final Moments
  85.      Necessities of Life—and, Death
  86.      Irene’s Funeral Mass
  87.      Don’s Eulogy
  88.      The Continuing Presence of Irene
  90. Post Script
  91.      Conversations
  92.      The Claddagh Rings and the Diamond
  93.      Promises Kept
  94.      Habits Acquired
  95.      The Calling


The Anatomy of Writing the Book, CANCER: A 9 Year Struggle

My initial thoughts, when I positioned myself in front of my Dell computer, were to simply write a tribute to Irene. I felt that Irene was so unique in so many ways, I had to, at least for myself, document those characteristics which made everyone who knew her to simply love her. From that therapeutic process, I started to believe she could teach so many sufferers and caregivers how to cope, fight the disease, and most of all, how to love. In my grief, I wanted everyone to know Irene and to be just like her, so in my writing and musing, I depict Irene as I knew her.  Then I would be able to smile and be happy again, and dwell among the living, if everyone I met was as pleasant and unselfish as Irene always was. Love is a much simpler emotion than most of us believe it to be, especially when it springs up in us naturally. That was Irene’s beauty: she loved in such an uncomplicated manner–so naked and unencumbered. That was what I learned from her: her love for me and my love for her, each was always so effortless.

I was 60 years old when I met Irene. She was 15 years junior to me, and by her example, taught me so much about my own ability to love, which had been dormant in me for so many years. Irene brought it from deep within me and made it soar up and onto the surface. That eruption was such a beautiful release in which we both were able to share during our too brief moment-in-time together.


[To be continued … ]