Rethinking A Storyline?
In 2011 when I penned Running To You, I really intended on including a serious storyline involving my lead character, Alexandra, that was completely out of the norm for medical issues commonly included in romance novels.
In character, Alexandra lost her mom to breast cancer at the age of 12. She grew up without a motherly figure in her life and with an absent father, who buried himself in his company. The staff practically raised her. After college, she went on to sell medical devices to surgeons performing surgeries in the Breast Cancer field.
The storyline that I scrapped included Alexandra having the test for the Breast Cancer Gene (known as BRCA I and BRCA II) because her mother had the disease and could’ve potentially passed the gene to her. Her test would’ve turned up positive, indicating her very high risk for developing breast cancer. It would’ve been discovered during her pregnancy and a turning point in her relationship with her boyfriend, Grayson, who just happened to be a surgeon, performing mostly breast cancer surgeries.
Why would this be important and who would care, you might ask?
In my real life, I sell products for the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, a disease that has probably affected someone you know. It is a subject that is near and dear to my heart, since I have devoted over 20 years in this arena. At the time the novel was written, I wanted to write a medical romance, but I also wanted to use the opportunity to touch the reader in another way, a way that was real and relatable, but different and possibly new to readers.
During beta reads of Running To You, the feedback provided to me indicated that the readers didn’t really understand the premise of having the BRCA tests performed and therefore, didn’t relate to it. So, I made the tough decision to scrap that part of the material and refocus the storyline a different direction.
Fast forward to May 16, 2013
Angelina Jolie announces that she recently underwent a preventative double mastectomy in Feb. 2013 because she tested positive to the BRCA genetic testing, confirming that she carried the Breast Cancer gene. It was discovered that her risk of developing Breast Cancer was greater than 85%. Removing her breast decreased her likelihood of developing the disease by over 80%. (In an effort not to plagiarize prior writings, please see her story at http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/14/showbiz/angelina-jolie-double-mastectomy .)
I’m very inspired by Angelina’s strength to be proactive in her health and more than likely, the most difficult decision she has ever made. I am even more in awe of her ability to undergo such public awareness and applaud her for her motivation and tenacity. I’m certain that her story will reach millions and influence many women to undergo the tests and feel confident about seeking further treatment, with the attitude “if Angelina can do it, I can do it.” I also applaud Brad Pitt for standing beside her and making a very public commitment to love her with or without breasts.
The recent events leave me revisiting my thoughts about my storyline. At the time, I didn’t believe readers would’ve understood what it meant for my character to undergo treatment of removing her breast prophylactically for carrying the breast cancer gene and how this would affect her in such a profound way or how it would fit into the couple’s relationship.
In the future, I won’t be so timid about stepping out of the norm with my storylines. After all, we don’t want to read the same things over and over. My passion for all-things-pink haven’t gone away. Who knows, maybe the storyline will appear in another form in another story along my writing journey.
Up until two weeks ago, this storyline of genetic testing wasn’t a normal everyday conversation. Now, it’s epic! Cheers to Angelina for coming forward and graciously educating women everywhere!
Author of Contemporary Romance
The Running Series:
Book 1: Running To You- now available in paperback and ebook at all major retailers.
Book2: Two Sides of a Heartbeat- expected Summer 2013
Book 3: Chasing Air- expected Fall 2013
Book 4: Forgiveness Creek- expected Holidays 2013
One lucky person commenting today today will receive an autographed copy of Running To You, released April 28th and a little bit of swag to go with it. All commenters will be entered to win the drawing for a Kindle Fire Giveaway at the end of June.
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