Monday, December 14, 2015

Candy Coated Chunk of Granite Interview

"Who would have thunk?” was one of Cindy Colangelo's favorite lines and although she passed away nearly two years ago, that line still resonates with all who loved her. Cindy lost her courageous battle with breast cancer, but not before touching the hearts of thousands online through her CaringBridge journal. Using those posts for inspiration, Candy Coated Chunk of Granite, her biography, was written by Cindy's husband and sister as a tribute to her love, perseverance and positive attitude in the face of insurmountable odds. Cindy's inimitable wit and zest for life is reflected in this beautiful, humorous read that inspires and entertains in a very real and honest way.


I had a chance to find out more about her.

Where did you get the idea for the title?
  Cindy was known as a gregarious person, loved having events and parties, and generally made people feel comfortable and valued.  She had tremendous energy and would keep in contact with many in her wide social circle, whether it was a short note, a small gift, or an offer to help in some way.  This was the exterior people saw, the candy coating.  I’ve have also known her to have strong will, if she wanted something to happen she would put a surprising amount of effort into ensuring her desired result.  During her extended battle with Stage IV cancer, she refused to let cancer and chemo dictate her life.  She willed herself to stay positive, participate in the Komen 3-day walks to raise money for research, and to be a bright light in the lonely battle with this disease.  I had this visual of a sweet exterior with a core of rock.
What do you think made her story so inspiring for others?
  How does one respond when faced with the knowledge that their life will be cut short?  Cindy’s response to this situation was the basis for this book, and the positive feedback from so many that read her journal.  She demonstrated that there are options, there is always hope, there can always be a positive response to a negative situation.
How can people support the families of someone with cancer?
 The best support is love and patience. We have learned from our experience that everyone handles this type of situation differently. It is difficult to know the right thing to do, or the right thing to say.  In Cindy’s case, she was such a people person and loved contact and interaction. When that interaction ceased for a day or 2 day that was sign that she needed space to process or work through something. Other helpful means of support include basic needs: rides to appointments, church or school, supplying basic grocery items (food and consumables), or even having the house cleaned.  Especially as the treatments continue over a long period, it is helpful to have a distraction - an emotional break from the conflict.  Examples include dinners out, funny movies, and inspirational books.  
How do you respond when it feels like your faith and hope aren't rewarded with the desired result?
  Faith is trusting God’s plan, not ours. Faith is praying for the wisdom and vision to discern this.  Cindy chose to make the most of every day that she was given.  Through cancer, she actually had more of a positive impact on other people’s lives.  It was not in our plan for her to leave us early but the lessons and love that were shared were far greater than what we could have imagined.  She used this terrible situation to do as much as she could for others.  Sadly, many of us don’t give this too much consideration until we are faced with a life-changing event. 
  This life lesson also had a strong influence on Cindy’s son, Tony.  When Cindy passed away he didn’t express anger, but pride that through her faith his mother made a difference in so many lives.  Life is a gift, and Cindy was planning to ultimately be with God in Heaven.  That is what she believed, and that is what she wanted all of us to understand. She wasn’t afraid, she was strong and she was an example to so many.

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