This book is for anyone who has ever needed to overcome fear. It is especially aimed at women of all ages, but men have also found encouragement in the story. My hope is that readers will be moved by the experiences encountered in these pages and will be inspired by the ultimate triumph reached by the story’s heroine, Katy McAndrews.
Fear can be debilitating and all-consuming.
I began writing Katy’s Ghost at a time when I was suddenly forced to face multiple uncertainties and fears, simultaneously. I had just completed my master’s degree in psychology and was beginning graduate studies toward a Ph.D. when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was thirty-four.
At the time of my diagnosis, life could not have been better. I was happily married to my college sweetheart, we were contemplating starting a family and I was looking forward to transitioning from teaching to a career in psychology. Up to that point, my courses in psychology had gently pushed me into examining my own psychological strengths and vulnerabilities, but had not yet forced me to face my past – a past where I witnessed first-hand the emotionally devastating effects of growing up with a severely schizophrenic uncle and a mentally unstable sister.
Up to that point, I was only beginning to understand how my childhood perceptions of mental illness had held sway over me. Fear can be all consuming and in my mind, having a child of my own meant the possibility of once again dealing with mental illness. Then came a new fear: breast cancer. Nothing like a cancer diagnosis to rivet the mind into examining one’s life.
While recovering from breast cancer I began writing a diary in hopes of coming to terms with my fears. Along with the fear of breast cancer, I realized that my refusal to face the past, the present, and the unknown future had been holding me back from making one of the most important decisions a woman will ever make – whether or not to become a mother. I greatly feared hereditary mental illness.
The process of recovering from and ultimately surviving breast cancer allowed me to explore and understand on a very deep level just how hard it is for a woman to face the many overwhelming uncertainties and challenges associated with parenting, not the least of which are one’s past and present family relationships and the paralyzing fear of the unknown.
Looking back, I wish I had dealt with these issues when I was younger. Instead, as many of us do when we are young, I filed the fears away deep in my subconscious, and did not allow them to resurface until much later. Then they confused and frightened me even more. While fears can be paralyzing, they can be overcome. I believe any woman who has ever faced her own demons, struggled with difficult family relationships, or dealt with the universal themes of love and forgiveness, will find inspiration, hope and an entertaining read in the pages of Katy’s Ghost.