Power of positivity flows through breast cancer survivor’s book

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Diane Young Uniman
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"Bonjour, Breast Cancer - I'm Still Smiling!" by Diane Young Uniman
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Diane Young Uniman
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"Bonjour, Breast Cancer - I'm Still Smiling!" by Diane Young Uniman

Diane Young Uniman, aka Princess von Brainisfried, will hold book signing event at The Greene Turtle in North Brunswick

 

NORTH BRUNSWICK – Diane Young Uniman can relate her battle against breast cancer to the prospect of losing her dog.

In remission for about three years, the North Brunswick resident said she learned how to use humor and positivity during surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Those lessons are helping her as her 15-year-old French bulldog, Lalo, suffers from illness.

“You learn about the ‘now,'” Uniman said. “If you’re afraid of losing yourself, you’re afraid – but if you’re afraid of losing someone else, it’s even worse … because you’re afraid of the pain.”

She said she doesn’t want to “‘die’ while in the joy of being with her while she’s still alive,” and that she has to learn to “limp along” with her despite a lack of quality of life.

This lead Uniman to what she considers to be a revelation: peace is a default state, and you can experience the emotions of fear, sadness and anger without them negating peace.

“Just because you have fear or the emotion of pain, those emotions don’t necessarily undue the state of peace,” she said. “If you are basically in peace, you are safe.”

As this relates to her current situation, she said that instead of having fear of Lalo’s eventual passing, she will relegate it to sadness, but not turmoil, because she will let the emotions flow through her but not overtake her.

She said she is also careful of what she labels as “bad” and instead looks for learning in everything that has meaning.

All of these lessons, mantras and wisdom led Uniman to officially write “Bonjour, Breast Cancer – I’m Still Smiling!” to inspire and encourage others going through any struggle to be optimistic and hopeful.

Released on Sept. 20 after more than two years of writing and editing, she said the book “didn’t feel like it was about myself.” She said she drew on inspiration from family, friends, famous people, philosophers like Socrates, and Cherokee legends.

She said she needed to help people survive the way she did, and “I needed to write it down so I have them to help myself.”

“It grew from a collective wisdom that was too much to ignore,” she said.

As for her own coping strategies, Uniman said she had to find meaning in a difficult experience.

“I lived it firsthand. Once I started feeling things that were meaningful … I could show my friends they could get through a trauma without falling apart.”

Uniman said she had to overcome “where to put my mind” upon her diagnosis, mostly because she was “frightened because there was no guarantee I would live” despite all the treatment.

“It dawned on me that nobody’s got a guarantee,” she said. “I had no more than anybody else, because everybody only had today. The past is gone, and tomorrow isn’t here yet.”

She said the night before her mastectomy, she thought of her grandmother Lena, who would say, “We’ll do what we have to do.”

“What are you going to do with it? What’s your alternative? Your alternative is really bleak. Your alternative is darkness,” she said.

“If I let cancer steal my joy, then I would have died while I’m still alive,” she continued. “Don’t ‘die’ with the time you have left.”

Worried the cancer would steal her personality, Young instead realized the “triumph of the human spirit is the biggest ‘ha ha.’ … Understand that if you can use humor and you can allow humor into your life it will be an easier journey.”

She said this made her feel “blessed” and “powerful.”

“Give yourself permission to be happy,” she said. “Resilience is hanging in there long enough to know you’re hanging in there.”

To celebrate the release of “Bonjour, Breast Cancer,” Uniman held a book signing at the Eat Brunswick Library.

She also coordinated, as Princess Diane von Brainisfried, an event from 12:30-3 p.m. on Oct. 12 at The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille, 211 Main St., North Brunswick.

To promote breast cancer awareness, there will be photos with the North Brunswick Police Department’s pink patrol car, a visit by The Greene Turtle mascot, tiaras, and a special non-alcoholic beverage created in honor of the book signing.

The Greene Turtle will donate 20% of sales to breast cancer research with the associated flier.

“I feel like I’m sparking a human get together,” she said. “I love the idea of having community events.

“We don’t always have to rally when there’s a disaster. Let’s rally to have fun,” she said.

For more information on the book, visit amzn.to/2MFKCc7

For more information on the book and book signing, visit princessdianevonb.com

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.