On Twitter, I am @TCOrobin, and the author of The Cancer Olympics. Using actual blog posts and responses, the book tells how my community and I successfully lobbied the government for the best-practice chemotherapy for my kind of cancer, but unfortunately too late for me to receive it. It also describes my search for justice from the College of Physicians and Surgeons over the bungled medical care that resulted in my very delayed diagnosis of colorectal cancer. Reviewers on Amazon, Indigo, and Goodreads have called it “brilliant and powerful” ...”enthralling”...”a riveting riveting read”...a “David vs Goliath story.”
Dr. James Legan is @jimmie_vanagon, an Internist in private practice for 21 years. We connected on Twitter due to a mutual love of patient engagement initiatives and VW campervans. Jim had ordered my book, along with the writings of Marcus Aurelius and Arthur Schopenhauer. He tweeted me as soon as he lifted it out of the package:
@TCOrobin We just got back from a day out & The Cancer Olympics arrived! I will have to put Arty & Marcus on hold pattern Have a good wknd
As he read, he tweeted his reaction:
@TCOrobin Marcus Aurelius is on hold till I finish your book, only on page 60 and I cannot put it down!!!
And I replied:
@jimmie_vanagon Heh Heh Heh...Keep reading! More shocks await you!
What happened next? Over the next few days, as Jim read, he tweeted his reactions, questions, impressions, emotional responses, and humorous observations. All in real time, as the story unfolded to him.
@TCOrobin on pg 68 of THE CANCER OLYMPICS. IMHO everyone in the medical field, EHR design, policy maker or fellow soul must read -TY
@TCOrobin you sure shocked me with the trio of gals visiting the sex shop, I should have read the whole thing before giving my approval!!!
@jimmie_vanagon At that point in the story I felt it needed some comic relief!
@TCOrobin still riveted to #TheCancerOlympics pg 108
@jimmie_vanagon where are you in the story now?
@TCOrobin Our neighbors invited us over for Prickly pear cactus margaritas, so I begrudgingly paused at page at 175, Xeloda vs FOLFOX
@TCOrobin The Mafioso comparison--these are fantastic concepts you capture and convey so well. Concepts, feelings/thoughts combined but lived.
@jimmie_vanagon I used to think I knew what my patients’ lives were like, until I read a book by a patient. A subjective account, like TCO.
@TCOrobin I like this on pg 342 "What is it that evokes our reactions to the synchronicity of the universe to our grief & hope?" answer...
@jimmie_vanagon I wrote that the day a rainbow appeared over the funeral of a friend's child.
@TCOrobin pg 350, reminds me of one of my favorite songs "Hallelujah" by the Canadian Leonard Cohen but sung by Jeff Buckley
@TCOrobin Direct Message: That letter to Bernie brought tears---dammit I don’t cry
Jim also posed questions that gave me pause, causing me to reflect more deeply on my writing:
@TCOrobin Do you think the last 2 paragraphs of your book identify the two spirits of your dream?
@jimmie_vanagon What a cool insight! I wonder if that was subconsciously there as I wrote. Thanks for that - must ponder. #thoughtful
When he had finished the book, we remarked on how enjoyable it had been for us both, for him as a reader and me as a writer, to interact immediately as he read:
@TCOrobin I have never had the opportunity to "speak" with an author ever, let alone in real time while reading her book!
@jimmie_vanagon THANK YOU for this marvellous opportunity to share your reading experience of #The CancerOlympics in real time #delighted
@TCOrobin Seriously, this experience has been extremely unique, and thank you for taking time to play along. Great fun!!!!
We invented the word “Tweetread” to describe the our experience, joking that it would become a new social media experience. In the days that followed, Jim tweeted to his own followers about it:
I thank @TCOrobin for tweetreading along, as I read her fabulous book #TheCancerOlympics this weekend.
@TCOrobin One of my all time favorites and I have read a lot over the years. I think a must read for any one taking care of patients!!!
@TCOrobin My mother in law just wrested #TheCancerOlympics from my possession!!! Schopenhauer & Aurelius will have to do 4 now.
@jimmie_vanagon No #tweetreading with those two!
The Cancer Olympics is a memoir, and therefore may invite more response than a work of fiction. But I am certain many readers would welcome the chance to share the immediacy of their reactions with the writer whose thoughts they are absorbing, whatever the genre.
I encourage other authors and readers to engage in Tweetreading. It is a vivid, real, and human interaction, as fresh and fun as Twitter itself.
The Cancer Olympics can be ordered via Amazon, Indigo, and Barnes & Noble. However, cancer charity donations are maximized by buying online through The Friesenpress Bookstore.