Sometimes, life throws us challenges that are beyond our control, but the way we react and adapt to them is within our control. That is the takeaway message in Dear Diary, Does This Cancer Make My Ass Look Fat, a heartfelt memoir by Kimberly Tronic. The collection of diary entries honestly portrays her biggest struggles, serving as a self-help book to surviving difficult times.
Everyone copes with challenges in their own ways. Rather than accepting her stage three ovarian cancer diagnosis with defeat, Kimberly chose to combat the darkness with laughter, costumes, colorful wigs, writing, and positivity. These tools ultimately helped her heal and realize that cancer brought many good things to her life. As Kimberly puts it, “You can’t be scared of chemo when you’re wearing a coconut bra and flower lei.”
Chemo made Kimberly paranoid about her physical appearance. She constantly joked about her bum looking big and that “bald is the new black.” The book was originally titled Bald Is The New Black, But Does This Cancer Make Ass Look Fat? – but with the diary format of the manuscript, it felt natural to add “Dear Diary.” Her inspiration for the book came from reading captivating memoirs and watching comedy specials. These moments set the tone for how Kimberly handled her journey – through the lens of humor.
While there were sporadic moments of loneliness and isolation during treatment, Kimberly felt loved and supported by her community. A simple check-in, whether a quick call, text, email, Facebook message or care package, made the biggest difference. Connecting with cancer survivors online also provided comfort. She managed to keep a positive mindset by doing things that made her feel good, like watching humorous shows, going for walks, and wearing silly costumes and bright wigs.
Kimberly allowed herself to lean into every emotion, making sure not to dwell for too long. “It’s totally okay to feel sad, angry, depressed, and resentful. Don’t judge yourself for feeling that way,” Kimberly says. “Let it out in whatever way you need to – cry, yell, vent, or in my case, throw the TV remote against the wall. Allow yourself time to sit in that space, then do anything you can to pull yourself up and out of it – call a friend, indulge in a little retail therapy, or in my case, replace the TV remote.” Cancer ended up vastly improving Kimberly’s life. She is no longer afraid to pursue goals and is clear about her purpose: to help others. Success looks like “sharing my story on a global scale and connecting with people facing their own struggles; [also] becoming a mentor and giving back to the cancer community.” Having her book made into a movie and casting Mila Kunis to play her would also classify as a success.
Knowing she’s done everything she can to be the best version of herself – and making an effort to be that person every single day – brings Kimberly the most happiness. “Being a cancer survivor is surreal; it’s like having a membership to a club that you never wanted to join. But it also fills me with pride and endless gratitude, because it made my life better in so many ways. I’m so thankful my story seems to resonate with people. Seeing my experiences help other people with their own battles, that truly inspires me!” After seeing a therapist, Kimberly now identifies unhealthy thoughts and values the simple but irreplaceable things in life: family, friends, community, humor, love, physical and mental health. She now operates from a place of hope and inspiration, rather from fear. Cancer took a lot from Kimberly, but it gave her so much more – life lessons and a whole new perspective. When she’s not writing, you’ll find Kimberly weightlifting, reading, scrolling through delicious recipes on Instagram that she’ll never bother cooking, vacuuming, meditating, consuming too much caffeine, and having belly laughs with friends.
Her next book, currently in the works, is a yet-to-be-titled recollection of her second journey through chemo and surgeries. This time around, Kimberly is equipped with the knowledge and experience from already enduring that journey. She’s a little older, a little wiser, and a little less bald. Dear Diary, Does This Cancer Make My Ass Look Fat? is available on paperback and Kindle.