Ya Can't Let Cancer Ruin Your Day: The James Emails

Paperback | February 1, 2006

bySyd Birrell

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This is a book about a family who chose to make their dreams a reality every day, because they never knew if there would be another day for their young son James as he fought cancer. Some dreams were easy to fulfill (going to the farm, or dinner at the top of the CN Tower) and others were outrageous (Dad, I'd like to drive a freight train that's pulling a hundred cars!), but the result was life lived to the fullest – and an inspirational book called “Ya Can’t Let Cancer Ruin Your Day – The James Emails,” by Syd Birrell.

"I began writing emails to family and close friends to keep them up to date on James' condition," said Syd, "but soon I found myself drifting away from stark summaries of the medical challenges of the day, and instead began writing about our adventures in living. Our young daughter Rebecca said 'Just because you have cancer doesn’t mean you stop having good times.' So we put aside our grief and fear, and every day we looked for opportunities to live our dreams." Syd Birrell

"Reading these letters is an extraordinary experience. What can a parent say as he watches his child battle with a deadly disease? Syd's words take us into an intimate engagement with that challenge. Perhaps a more intimate engagement than most of us are prepared for. But what we discover here is not only the anguish and fear we might expect. The steady recognition of pain and vulnerability gives us the necessary background for the astonishing discoveries that these letters convey. The real point is how much else is discovered in this candid facing of a child's (and of our own) mortality.

We still have no cure for neuroblastoma. But in the courage and the honesty and the love and the generosity of others and the sense of community and the workings of faith that Syd discovers--and so movingly explores-- in theses letters, we discover that which enables and encourages us to live and work in hope and joy.Prof. David Glassco, Trent University

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From the Publisher

This is a book about a family who chose to make their dreams a reality every day, because they never knew if there would be another day for their young son James as he fought cancer. Some dreams were easy to fulfill (going to the farm, or dinner at the top of the CN Tower) and others were outrageous (Dad, I'd like to drive a freight tr...

The life of Syd Birrell is a coat of many colours. He was born in Sarnia, Ontario and educated in Canada and England, where he studied at the Royal College of Music. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and in his hometown of Peterborough, Ontario, Director of Music at Murray Street Baptist Church and organist at Lakefield ...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:348 pages, 8 × 5.25 × 0.75 inPublished:February 1, 2006Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0973808004

ISBN - 13:9780973808001

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Read from the Book

Foreword by Tom HanksOver the telephone, the voice of a little boy carries only his enthusiasm for the subject of the conversation – rocket ships, movies, railroad trains, and the other stuff that boys find fascinating. There is not talk of the doctor reports, the statistics, or the schedule of treatments – just the questions and opinions that blurt forth from the mouth and mind of a little boy like James Birrell.The photographs will give you hints of his struggle, some more evident than others. But even in the pictures you can spot the obvious signs of a happy kid in love with life as much as he is in love with his family – the sunbeam smile, the cocked engineer’s cap, and the look of satisfaction for a well made snowman. The whole family is there as well: Syd and Pam, Ben and Rebecca. And James.This book of the emails about James will tell you his story from all 360 degrees of perspective. And yes, some days and nights were so painful that you would not wish them on anyone. But there are other times – magical days and God-given nights of love, beauty, laughter and awe – that will make you wish that you were one of the Birrell family. You will get to know all the Birrells, as well as plenty of people in their community, all of whom have come to know that their lives have been made a bit more special because James has become a part of their hearts.And even better, these emails will allow you the pleasure of getting to know the little boy behind the cocked engineer’s cap. He’ll find a place in your heart as well. And like all great loves, James will be there forever. Tom Hanks