How Cancer Unleashed a Dog Book for Children That Features a Same-Sex Couple
By Geri Gale/ The Seattle Lesbian
I am a poet and have been told that people take my work out like they would a snifter of Grand Marnier and sip it because it’s so rich. But everything changed on December 6, 2012, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer – the same day Seattle issued its first same-sex marriage licenses.
I’ve been with my partner, Patty Kunitsugu (a.k.a. PK), for 36 years. When we first met in Seattle, being a lesbian on Capitol Hill was an underground existence, and living the lives of lesbians was a struggle that we navigated through together via the strength of our love and commitment to each other.
The synchronicity of life has a way of creating stories.
My children’s story, Alex: The Double-Rescue Dog, came to life during my 24 chemo treatments at Swedish Cancer Institute. For six months, every Friday, I sat in a chair looking out a window with a view of the city, while a nurse manually administered the chemo into my body via a catheter tube connected to a port attached to a large vein. It was an intimate experience, and when she was done, there was a period of silence. I was left alone, waiting for the liquids to flush out and hydrate my system and waiting for any negative reactions to the chemo.
People seldom talk about a condition called chemo brain, but it most definitely exists. For everyone it’s different. For me, it was a change in my writer’s voice. Poet and novelist Jack Remick tells me that all true artists follow their various veins. As the chemo shot through my veins, the esoteric, poetic voice had drifted away and an unadorned, softer writer’s voice emerged.
The story is based on true events that unfolded a few years ago when people began losing their jobs and abandoning their dogs on the streets. Alex was one of those dogs. Homeless, he sought refuge in a wobbly box by the river – until he was picked up and transported thousands of miles. Landing in the parking lot of a Chinese restaurant in Seattle – he was the last dog to be rescued – by his two moms.
I’ve always joked about lesbians and their overwhelming love for their dogs. While there are themes of love, hope and overcoming obstacles, it also comes from a place of humor. There are not a lot of books for children of same-sex partners, let alone including four-legged friends, and I’m happy to introduce this story to the world. It’s not only for children of same-sex partners, but also for dog lovers, those coping with cancer, and everyone in between.
As I underwent my cancer treatment, it became clear while PK and I rescued our scruffy, pink-eyed dog, Alex made his own rescue in return, with his unmitigated love and affection helping me find my way through such a difficult time.
Illustrator Pamela Farrington of Velvet Design Studio and I thank you for your support. In turn, we are delighted to donate a portion of the proceeds from this book to PAWS and the Swedish Cancer Institute.
Find the book here: Alex: The Double-Rescue Dog.
Geri Gale’s book, Patrice: a poemella, was awarded the 2015 Silver IPPY Award for GLBT Fiction. Pamela Farrington, owner of Velvet Design Studio, illustrated Alex: The Double-Rescue Dog. Geri and her partner PK were issued marriage license #357 on December 6, 2012.
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