Hello, hello my letter loving readers! After a brief hiatus we're back with a special edition of the Books About Letters series -- the first of 2023. Today we're talking about the story behind a charity near and dear to our hearts, direct from the co-founders themselves: "From Me to You: A Diagnosis + A Promise = An Unbreakable Friendship" by Brian Greenley & Alison Hitchcock.
Regular readers will know that in order to qualify as a "Book About Letters" the book in question must of course contain letters. Before I continue to extoll the virtues of this read let me put your mind at ease that "From Me to You" is most certainly a book about letters and a must-read one to boot. Read on for more!
When Brian Greenley was diagnosed with cancer, a woman he'd recently befriended on a yoga retreat named Alison Hitchcock blurted out that she would write him letters during his treatment. What followed were letters from Alison to Brian which documented life, loss, and the pursuit of a good laugh. In "From Me to You", the founders of the charity -- which helps to destigmatize cancer with the friendly approach of a letter to a friend or family member or complete stranger with their 'Donate a Letter' campaign -- have shared their personal letters and journal entries for an unprecedented peak at the origin story of a truly beautiful friendship.
Here are Brian and Alison chatting about the book on the Lorraine show in April 2023!
And how about three cheers for Alison who ran the London Marathon and raised over £3,000 to sponsor donated copies of the books to hospitals and cancer centers.
What to Say?
I could tell you all my favorite parts but I won't because I want you to read this story. That's not me being harsh, that's just how much I loved the back and forth between Brian and Alison. It's also not lost on me that a book about cancer that talks about its brutality so beautifully, is not a light read. In fact, I was only recommending the book to a complete stranger -- yes, I am really as egregiously an advocate for the letter in person as I am in print -- and when I mentioned the subject matter she blanched. Teary eyed she confessed that she never knew what to say to someone experiencing cancer, wasn't it just always so difficult to articulate?
And there was my angle in. "From Me to You" tells Brian's story in black and white. His journal entries will have you laughing and have you holding back tears. Several times throughout the book he talks about the relationships he lost when his diagnosis became 'too difficult' for others around him to talk about. If you like the poor woman I accosted in the que at the coffee shop while she waited for a latte, don't know how to talk to someone experiencing the challenges of a cancer diagnosis "From Me to You" the charity has several suggestions of how to start a letter to someone, all rooted in the belief that to start a conversation even if its difficult is better than the alternative.
"...this is what letter writing is doing..."
Okay, okay. You twisted my arm. I'll share a taste of Alison's letters with you because I think once you start, you're more than likely going to want to continue reading.
Get in Touch.
Do you have a book in mind about letters you think I should read and review for "Books About Letters"? Let me know! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.