Subscribe to SLJ
Bowllan's Blog
Inside Bowllan's Blog

Writers Against Racism: My New And Unexpected Journey

The next 6-months will be an unknown journey for me (and my family) because on May 2nd  I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  As far as what stage it is, tests are still in the works.  But yesterday I informed my children of my current health condition and I also wanted to inform you, my readers.  Why? Well, of course it’s a personal choice but  it’s also important for me to continue to build awareness, share resources, and support the hundreds of thousands of  women (and men) with breast cancer. 

2010 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure (Me, daughter, son)

After I told my almost 14-year old son,  he said, “Mom, it’s nothing to be ashamed about.”  While my daughter said, “Mom, please let ME help you to pick out the wig.”  These were the reality checks I needed to hear and these are the real stories to read about. They’re not always found in books – although after this ordeal – that has some scary moments, I smell a book germinating.   

For the past five years, we (my school community) have walked in the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure, so raising awareness has been at the top of our list; especially since one out of every eight women has this disease, a disease that when caught early, is highly treatable.

My daughter and I at Susan G Komen Race for the Cure 2006

With the variety of testing that has taken place and more to come, I had to withdraw as being a moderator for the SLJ DAY OF DIALOG.  What a tough e-mail to write! But as always, the supportive folks at School Library Journal understood my dilemma and signed off “in support and solidarity.” 

My family at the 2009 Susan G Komen Race for the Cure

Diversity in YA Literature is my passion so I hope you will support the new moderator, Elizabeth Burns, on this extremely important panel discussion (with some cool authors, too).

Lastly, as far as my blog posts, in addition to W.A.R. updates/posts, I hope it’s okay to keep you updated on my progress over the next six months.  I find that writing has become healing therapy on the first ‘leg’ of this new journey.

E-mail me:
Follow me on Twitter: @abowllan
Find me on Facebook!


  1. About twenty years ago, I went through a cancer scare. Surgery was necessary, and through it, the doctors determined that the growth wasn’t malignant. My daughter was a month old when I had the surgery. The “possibly malignant’ diagnosis came when I was in the first trimester.

    After the surgery, when people saw the incision (it was thyroid), soooo many women tugged their neckline down to show me a similar scar. I wished that I’d had their stories during the months preceding. I think it would have helped me.

    So yeah, I do want to hear about how this unfolds for you, as much as you’re willing to share.

    Thinking of you,

    • Debbie, thank you for sharing your story with me. You are so right, that we need to share – these are the real stories that the next generation(s) can/will learn from. I will keep on writing. :)

  2. I’m lined up with you in support and thank you very much for sharing your story; therapeutic for you and helping to guide us your readers in learning not only the facts but how best to be the support we so desperately want to be to you and to others. Your RIF family and I are here for you, and while I will miss seeing you at Day of Dialogue, I’ll look forward to seeing you another time soon.

    Thinking of you and your children and your full family with great love and courage extended to you.

  3. B Herrera says:

    Keep a positive attitude and let your friends help. It makes a difference. My brother had leukemia and the doctors said it was so bad he COULD NOT survive. Nine years later he is still keeping busy. I got staph infection and given no hope of survival when I donated bone marrow for him. I am still recovering, but would do it again without hesitation. A year later my mother had cancer and lost a kidney. She’s still driving tractors and chasing cows at 78. Friends and neighbors took care of the everyday chores while we concentrated on getting everyone better. It has not been the life we planned, but it has been the life we were allowed to continue and we are all alive and grateful. These bumps in the road made us slow down and realize what is really important and changed out outlook on the realitvely small problems we usually stress out about. The doctors for each of us gave our family the credit for survival. They all said that they did not know how we survived, but that it had to have been our attitude (we call it stubbornness!). So, stay stubborn, and focus on getting better so you can enjoy your family. I’ll be thinking of you and praying for you to have the strength to find the joy in life when things get tough. My brother and I would call each other (we were in separate hospitals in different states) and laugh about what medicines we were on know and how serious the doctors and nurses looked when they came into our rooms. When I couldn’t walk I would laugh about how I had finally found a way to get people to wait on me. When he couldn’t keep food down, he would laugh about how he had found a diet that worked to take the pounds off. It kept us from crying and made us realize we could make it, no matter what anyone else thought. We know how lucky we are because we know many who did not make it. But, with today’s medicine, we know many more who did make it. I have faith in your ability to beat this and your ability to keep writing throughout.
    Bless you and your family.

    • Beverly, you have an amazing story. Thank you for sharing it with us. I read it to my mom and we both agree, you are truly special.

  4. My thoughts and prayers will be with you, Amy–and thank you for your courage in sharing your story; you’re not alone, and I hope all the love in your real and virtual worlds will uplift you as you make this difficult journey.

  5. sending you much love, Amy. and you know you just have to holler…

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  7. Hi Amy,
    I’m sorry to hear of this diagnosis. It may slow others down but it has seemed to give you even more momentum! Godspeed!

  8. My thoughts & prayers are with you and your family.

  9. amy, so sorry for the news.
    also sorry i won’t be able to meet you at SLJ Day of Dialog,
    we will all be thinking of you and sending good thoughts
    for certain. i am glad to see that you are surrounded by
    family and friends and love in such challenging times.
    i hope our paths cross again in the future at another awesome
    librarian book event.

  10. You are in my thoughts and prayers every day and that will continue. With much love, Samantha

  11. Rosamaria says:

    You are in our thoughts and prayers. I know that our community will gather around you and support you, and we’ll all walk together again at the Komen Walk in September. xo Rosamaria

  12. I LOVE YOU, AMY!! As I’ve told you before, meeting you & learning about your work has brought a ray of sunshine into my life. Very few people I’ve met online have affected me as much as you, with your kindness & brightness. I’m with you every step of the way, cheering you along this journey. I have no doubt you will beat this, and your light will shine even brighter than ever, especially for your family & friends. I LOVE YOU!

  13. Amy you’ve made a very important personal choice sharing with all of us your experience. I think the way you’re doing it, is so delicate and respectful that it may really help not just those who have cancer but also those who are close to them. When I was 17 and my mum had a cancer (now she is 80 and still a running horse) i didn’t have the chance to confront with anyone who had a parent or a relative or a friend with such desease. I felt very much alone, I didn’t know how to handle all alone that situation, and we were the only two of us. So to me, you’re doing right and support you fully.
    hugs and kisses xoxo

    • Thank you, Valentina! It’s important to me, as a journalist, to be transparent. Students learn about life in this way. Not to mention, the responses from others are also educational to everyone. Diversity comes in all ways. Breast cancer taught me that. Love you lots!