"This is a story of a warrior, a survivor, and an outstanding community member. Valerie Burns has written an unflinching book about her life as a cancer survivor. Her story is not only powerful, it is honest and incredibly important for anyone who faces the many challenges of healing." Nathaniel Gray, Santa Barbara Project:
"It was several years ago when I wrote my first personal essay about the one memory I have of my mother when I was a three-year-old seeing her in a casket. Little did I know that a few years later, in July 2013, I would be diagnosed with breast cancer myself. While in the midst of the harrowing journey that followed, and after my fifth of eight surgeries, I was accepted and received a scholarship to The Prague Summer Writing Program in 2016. When I began the writing venture in 2010, I received a full scholarship to the Santa Barbara Writing Conference, both of which inspired me to pursue writing with more devotion.
I continued to write and juggled many balls to stay alive, heal, and keep a roof over my head. A cancer survivor in my twenties when diagnosed with cervical cancer, I’d been on a holistic and healthy lifestyle path for more than thirty years. A breast cancer diagnosis was the last thing I expected, but life has a way of throwing us those curves. I lost business, moved seven times, and put myself on auto-pilot to make it through. I feel as if I’ve come full circle from my mother’s passing to my survival.
With a background in the movie business, I have always loved story. And, since I was a young girl growing up on an island off Miami, I have always found ways to escape into the ethereal world of the mermaid imagination. As a seeker of beauty, and with a background in fashion and interior design, I am a makeover specialist for home and wardrobe. I’m at my best when I’m creating something beautiful.
All of this has inspired me to turn my essays into a book, “Caution: Mermaid Crossing”. To create purpose and a new positive chapter on the other side of healing, it’s my intention to share my raw and truthful words with the hope that they may resonate with others on their own challenging path. Because I believe that even if it’s a few moments of grace that takes your breath away, like pausing to observe all the brilliant colors bestowed upon a hummingbird, finding exquisite beauty in nature, the arts, or deep connection is life’s greatest gifts."
Read Valerie’s full story in the Santa Barbara Project this Winter. She and hundreds of other community members are telling their story all in the hopes of uniting us. Tell your story. www.santabarbaraproject.com/submission