‘Hug Everyone You Know’

Antoinette Truglio Martin (Photo by Titus Kana)

Antoinette Truglio Martin believed herself to be a healthy and sturdy woman—that is, until she received a stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis. Cancer is scary enough for the brave, but for a self-proclaimed wimp like Martin, it was downright terrifying. She had to swallow waves of nausea at the thought of her body being poisoned, and she frequently fainted during blood draws and infusions. To add to her terror, cancer suddenly seemed to be all around her. In the months following her diagnosis, a colleague succumbed to cancer and five of her friends were also diagnosed.

Though tempted, Martin knew she could not hide in bed for 10 months. She had a devoted husband, daughters and a tribe of friends and relations. Along with work responsibilities, there were graduations, anniversaries and roller derby bouts to attend, not to mention a house to sell and a summer of beach-bumming to enjoy. In order to harness support without scaring herself or anyone else, she journaled her experiences and began to email the people who loved her—the people she called My Everyone—keeping them informed and reminding all to “hug everyone you know” at every opportunity.

Reading the responses became her calming strategy. Ultimately, with the help of her community, Martin found the courage within herself to face cancer with perseverance and humor.

Martin is a speech therapist and special education teacher by training, but a writer at heart. She is the author of Famous Seaweed Soup and was a visiting author in schools for several years. She was formerly a regular columnist for Parent Connection (In A Family Way) and Fire Island Tide (Beach Bumming).

Personal experience essays and excerpts of her memoir have been published in Bridges (2014), Visible Ink (2015) and The Southampton Review (2016). Martin proudly received her MFA in creative writing and literature from Stony Brook Southampton University in 2016. As a stage 4 breast cancer patient, she does not allow cancer to dictate her life. She lives in her hometown of Sayville with her husband, Matt, and is never far from My Everyone and the beaches she loves.

Hug Everyone You Know will be available on Oct. 3.

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