The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

March 14, 2013

Dying writer pens memoir for her family



She spends her days in a specially built “Chickadee” hut in the yard where she is just now reaching the pinnacle of her writing career, but well aware that time is very limited, her mother-in-law said.

The entire family of 40 spent the holidays together and Susan writes on her Facebook page that she thinks it will be the last holiday they spend together. She asked for rings for Christmas that she could pass on to her daughters.

Her husband, once a pharmaceutical sales representative, quit his job to care for her.

A book advance of $2.3 million, along with another couple million in movie rights have secured her family’s financial future, but “there was so much more Susan wanted to say. She wanted to make memories for her family because she knew she wouldn’t be around,” Mrs. Wendel said.

Wendel has said he is considering going back to school after Susan’s death to become a physician’s assistant and his wife has written “Good! That makes me happy!”

She also writes in the book that her husband told her upon learning of her diagnosis “the least I can do for you is everything.”

She took her teenage daughter, Marina, bridal shopping in New York City, because she knew she wouldn’t be around for the day her daughter walked down the aisle.

She writes in the book that she wanted “her to remember the day we shopped for dresses. I wanted to see her in a wedding gown. And for her to remember that I was happy and smiling.”

She also traveled to California recently became reunited with her birth mother, and to Cyprus, the home country of the birth father she never knew, Mrs. Wendel said.

Her message to her family is not to grieve, Mrs. Wendel said.

“She told John she expects him to marry again, to find love and find someone who will run triathlons with him,” Mrs. Wendel said.

The book and her story has been chronicled on NPR, Today, and numerous media outlets.

The author, and her husband, will be at book signings in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Saturday, where she will thumbprint copies to autograph books.

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