Determined to Matter: A Family Facing Inoperable Brain Cancer

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9781938063206: Determined to Matter: A Family Facing Inoperable Brain Cancer

Shannon O'Hara, skating down the ice chasing after the puck, comes face to face with a larger-than-life opposing team player. Never one to back down from anything, barely five feet fall, Shannon tangles with the player and ends up with a penalty. As she sits in the penalty box—only thinking about getting out in two minutes—no one would ever imagine that this beautiful, vibrant, and competitive young spirit will be gone in 54 days. The devastating news that 12-year-old Shannon is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor is unfathomable, surreal, and unimaginable. This is the raw and emotional story of the O'Hara's as they prepare for the fight of their lives, and their ultimate loss.

Written and inspired by a blog that Dan and Jen O'Hara wrote to keep in touch with their family, friends, and supporters near and far, the story follows the yearlong battle from diagnosis to death and exemplifies how to live the "new normal" every day, no matter what it entails. Shannon's struggle reveals why family, faith, and hope are so important in our daily lives and how the support of a community plays such a vital role through the good times and especially the bad.

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About the Author:

Jen O'Hara is a Rochester, MN, native and graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, with a BA in Broadcast Journalism. She has worked as a high school educator teaching television production and as a tennis instructor to students of all ages, while also being at home raising her two daughters, Shannon and Erin. Jen has been married to husband Dan for 17 years. She is an avid Broadway musical fan as well as an enthusiast of all kinds of sports, especially golf and tennis. This is her first published work, and it is in memory of her daughter, Shannon.

Dan O'Hara is the husband of Jen O'Hara, father of Shannon & Erin O'Hara, and of course, master of Sunny the wonder dog. After earning a BS in Mass Communications from St. Cloud State University, Dan spent 13 years in local television as Sports Director at KTTC TV, Rochester, MN. Today he is a Sales Executive in the Transportation/Trucking industry. Dan's passions are his golf, his backyard and his Minnesota sports teams. Dan continues to wear his heart on his sleeve. Together, Dan and Jen wrote the original blog about their journey through these difficult times, and some blog excerpts in the book are credited to him.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction
Seasons of Love” is one of my favorite songs from the musical, Rent. The song is about how we measure the passage of time:

    In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
    In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
    One year. 525,600 minutes.
    How do you measure a year in life?

This is my family’s story one year in our life beginning with a life altering diagnosis for my daughter Shannon. My husband, Dan, and I wrote a blog during our journey, and much of that blog remains intact in this book. As we stated on the blog’s front page, we wrote from the heart, so parental discretion is advised...
Section of Epilogue
The days, weeks, and months from April 15, 2011, to now have taught us so much about ourselves and about others. We know a level of sadness and loss that we couldn’t imagine. But we also know about gratitude, grace, kindness, and acceptance. Shannon showed us the way.

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